I stood in front of the pile of old shoes at Yad Vashem for a long while.
Visiting Israel's national monument to the Holocaust, I felt paralyzed in front of those shoes, especially the tiny ones.
Later, I read about toddler Hinda Cohen. She was taken from her bed and deported to Auschwitz in a children's roundup on March 27, 1944. When Hinda was taken, her shoe was left behind. Upon finding it, her father etched the date on its sole. Her parents survived the war. They kept their daughter's shoe and birth certificate, along with a pair of mittens that her mother had sewn for her from scraps of material, until they died.
That is the legacy of registering religious minorities and making them carry special identification.
I've listened for the past several days to the rising rhetoric and hysteria about refugees and Muslims.
I listened while Donald Trump trolled our Constitution by saying the government may need to shut down some mosques if he becomes president, and that we may need to allow warrantless searches targeting Muslim Americans.
I listened while the "reasonable" candidate, the man whose father and brother have been presidents, joined in, suggesting that only Christian refugees be allowed to enter this country.
I read the letter, stunned, in which the Democratic mayor of Roanoke, Virginia cited the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II as a valid precedent for keeping out Syrian refugees today.
But when the leading GOP candidate for president suggests he's open to the idea of Muslim Americans carrying special identification or registering in a national database, all I could think about were those shoes.
As many readers know, I am Muslim, as is my family. I'm not a refugee, and I'm not scared of refugees. I'm not an immigrant, and I'm not scared of immigrants.
But I am scared of Trump's deliberate bigotry and hate-mongering. By recirculating vile proposals from history, he shocks us, then raises the bar on what it takes to shock us. Even when he walks back from these incendiary statements after leaders from both parties call him out, there is damage done.
Trump's campaign is normalizing ideas from the darkest chapters of our history.
It's a strange feeling to live in a state of anxiety in your own country. "Liberty and justice for all" are words I memorized as a child, and a critical part of my self-identity. Like many American kids, I learned my country's history in school, but didn't really process it until I was much older. I remember that crushing moment, and maybe you do, too -- when your beliefs were challenged and you were confronted with the extent of man's brutality toward man; the depths to which humanity has sunk and risen.
When you intimately study history, when you lose yourself in stories from the past, you recognize the alarms -- you notice when history is starting to repeat itself. You begin to play out scenarios you never imagined before.
After 9/11, I played out many of those what-ifs. I had conversations with my spouse about who would stay and who would go in the worst-case scenario of our country turning against us. I thought of a person -- a white, non-Muslim American person -- whom I would leave in charge of our assets if we had to flee.
Keep a sense of perspective, I told myself. Don't allow yourself to feel hunted. Fight the impulse that your children are at risk going to Sunday School at the local mosque. Try not to worry that your hijab-wearing mother could be an easy mark for unjust reprisals.
But I had to stay practical -- and still do. I am a well-educated writer with resources, connections and a platform. None of that insulates me from politicians who foment hysteria. My opinions and arguments are made in the public sphere. That's not a protective shield against suspicion.
In a time of war and fear, you make choices: Hide or speak out.
I choose to speak, and speak loudly.
Trump does not offend my feelings as a Muslim. Attacks on my faith slide off of me because my faith lives inside me, and no one can take away what lives inside of you.
He offends me as an American. His words are an attack on my country. Americans should be able to disagree on policy without vilifying and dehumanizing the Other.
When I went to Israel, I also visited the occupied territories of the West Bank. I have traveled all over the so-called "Muslim" world -- Egypt, Turkey, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Emirates. Each time, I felt a sense of relief when I landed back in the U.S. The same sense of relief all travelers feel upon coming back home.
So, would I carry a special ID if Trump or someone like him tried to make me?
To do so would be to dismiss all that my parents gave up to come to this country. To dishonor the sacrifices of those who have fought and died for my country's values and my freedom. To disgrace the memory of the 6 million Jews who were marked, then murdered. To forget Hinda Cohen.
I will not betray my country like that.
I will not wear a special identification that marks me as anything other than American.