Steelers player, a Muslim, says immigration ban 'from the playbook of hatred'
Pittsburgh offensive lineman Ryan Harris converted to Islam in his youth
When President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, the ramifications were far-reaching. Protests at airports across the United States soon followed, and a federal judge later issued an emergency stay temporarily halting the removal of those detained.
"Hate crimes have been escalating since the election," Harris, who played for the Broncos from 2007-2010 and again in 2015 and lives in Colorado during the offseason, told the Nicki Jhabva of the Denver Post on Sunday. "Even here in Denver, reported swastika graffiti has increased. These are things that we understood from the language that some of our elected officials use and have used. This is exactly from the playbook of hatred and divisiveness. But I believe, and others I spend my time with, believe in the love of another human being and continue to support others who are marginalized."
Harris, who converted to Islam at a young age, says his experience has been one of "of broad acceptance and respect." But he also knows that other Muslims, those with different-sounding names, have faced discrimination.
"But I've began to understand hatred in a different way, especially in the last year," Harris said. "I realized that people have hatreds that they grew up with, prejudices they grew up with, and then they find out that prejudice is really unfounded and they begin to hate themselves for it. And that comes out as even more anger and hate overall. But I think that's also part of the process of them coming to forgive themselves for their prejudices and just joining solidarity with people who are different from you."
Harris isn't alone. Pat Tillman's widow ripped the immigration ban, writing on Facebook that "this is not the country [Pat] dreamed of, not what he served for, and not what he died for."
Tillman, who played for the Arizona Cardinals from 1998-2001, joined the Army Rangers in 2002. In 2004, he died in Afghanistan at the age of 27.
Kerr, who coaches the Golden State Warriors, called the ban a "shocking and a horrible idea," and Popovich, the San Antonio Spurs coach, called the rollout of the ban "Keystone Kops-like ... and that's scary."
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