Fascism is no longer a ghost of the past but a chilling reality. Donald Trump is doing as he promised. And what fools we were to take him lightly.
People often wonder as to what the passive masses did during fascist reigns when far-right demagogues enacted their crackdowns upon the rights and freedoms of minorities. Today we are being given an insight into it ourselves. Donald Trump has launched a war not on terrorism, not upon the theology of Islam, but upon Muslims themselves.
That includes the various sects; liberal Muslims, non-practising Muslims, as well as the devout conservative ones. It’s a propaganda boost for terrorists as Iran warned and it does nothing to stop terrorism – especially when the countries banned did not produce a single terrorist for 9/11. Saudi Arabia, the hotbed of Sunni extremism, is given a free pass. The point of this is not to say that they should be banned, but that this Muslim Ban is going to implode.
Families separated, people stopped at airports, a mad scrambling confusion around the world as people try to understand what it means for them. America is building trenches and digging itself in but not for a war against terrorism but with its own values. Freedom is a beautiful thing but a terrible burden to hold onto when security is threatened and fear runs rampant.
The natural temptation is to succumb to the politics of reality and necessity, rather than trying to carve out solutions based on progressive and liberal foundations. The point is this: a ban on Muslims and revival of torture techniques speaks of a civilisation unsure of its principles.
For the terrorists, this is another victory. Just as they forced the USA into draconian measures after 9/11, so they have done so here again. Trump is their reward and their propaganda. How much easier it is now to paint the west as a Muslim-hating region when the leader of the free world essentially hates Muslims.
It underlines how little people understand about the sources of extremism: that its material welfare, social status insecurity and grievances often that drive it rather than actual theology. A Muslim ban affects all who exist under its identity: that includes liberal, secular, non-practising reformists such as myself as well the gay-hating, women-oppressing bigots that invariably exist within Islam.
And what of Theresa May’s lack of moral fibre? Some would argue that this is the hand she was dealt after Brexit. Britain needs trading certainty in the absence of the single market benefits that came with being in the EU. It means becoming closer to the USA, bringing into question exactly how this helps the image of a strong and independent Britain as envisioned by the Leave bloc.
Yet Theresa May, in her timid and passive approach, has betrayed British values, or the ones we think we have. I don’t personally subscribe to the image of the UK being tolerant and inclusive but I accept it’s a tradition we think exists. Tolerance and inclusivity are the British values we have never seriously celebrated, perhaps until now. And these are values that May has betrayed so terribly.
She has let down refugees, poorly remarking that it’s the USA’s business what they do with their refugee policy whilst insisting that Britain has played its part in alleviating the refugee crisis spilling across the world. We haven’t. Not even close.
And what message does this send out to the millions of British Muslims? A terrible one. The internationalist streak of the Labour Party inevitably positions us opposite the Tories on this and, in fairness, Corbyn has been far stronger than May has been on this issue. That isn’t saying much – and distance from power affords him the freedom to be an idealist here – but the tide is turning, slowly shifting.
Britain has been growing increasingly xenophobic towards Muslims but the actions of Trump and the capitulation of May have shocked many. A petition to stop Trump coming here has been circulated wildly. It speaks of discontent and anger. The Labour Party we must hold the Tories to account here.
Carving out a future scenario of better international relations without compromising our values and security is a hallmark of a potential government. The Tories have been shambolic in their Brexit handling and dealings with Trump. The goalposts have shifted for Labour and it’s up to this party now to provide a better defence of Muslims and our values.
And to everyone else, now is a reminder that silence over Islamophobia places you in the same bracket as the bigot. As we protest angrily against Trump’s horrifying measures, let us remember he is part of a wider far-right movement which has made its mark here against the Muslim community. It does not say much if we do not fight Islamophobia here.