Naked Politics Blogger
Donald Trump’s executive order, temporarily banning all people from seven specific Muslim majority countries and suspending all refugees from travelling to the United States, marks a horrific shift in American history. Racism in America is nothing new. It was present in America’s early days with slavery and carried on long past its abolition, culminating in the civil rights movement of the mid-1950s. Of course racism still exists in much of America, hence the existence of the Black Lives Matter movement. But racism of this type, targeting a specific religion emanating from the head of state is unseen before in the United States and is a drastic contradiction of what America stands for. It reflects similarities of Nazi Germany. That cannot be allowed to happen again.
However, we should not be surprised by what we are seeing. Trump called for a ‘total and complete shutdown’ of Muslims entering the United States. His anti-Muslim rhetoric was a cornerstone of his campaign. Trump won the election and he has a mandate to carry out the very things he promised to do should he win power. He is simply fulfilling these promises that so many Americans voted for.
But that does not mean he should not be condemned for what he is doing. When something is just plain wrong, whether voted for or not, there must be opposition and accountability. Opposition inside the US is needed and it is exactly what we are seeing, from citizens protesting to criticism from politicians of both parties. But on an issue such as this, with the knowledge of history that we have, more must to be done. The nations of the free world, those that practice democracy and have long defended freedom and liberty must come together to castigate Trump’s actions. Whether it wants to or not, the international community has a duty and responsibility to stand up for citizens around the world, of all religions and minorities, where their freedoms are under threat. In this instance it is needed now more than ever, to put a stop to Trump’s aims in their early days, as things could get a lot worse.
When the so-called leader of the free world not only fails to stand up for, but initiates an assault on basic freedoms around the world and there is no superpower with the hegemonic influence of America to take up the mantle, most people would look to the liberal democratic nations of Europe to take a lead in condemnation. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been at the forefront of opposition to Trump’s ban stating the war on terror “does not justify putting people of a specific background or faith under general suspicion”. Likewise French PM Hollande called for nations to be “firm” with America “when he refuses the arrival of refugees”. Back across the Atlantic, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau tweeted his opposition in a positive light, announcing to Muslims that “Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith.”
But with all this opposition there is one vacancy and it is very surprising it exists. Where is Britain’s response? Theresa May’s lack of vilification is an affront, not only to the people of Britain, but to our proud history as a bedrock of liberal democracy around the globe. Britain has always stood up for what is right. Yes, there have been mistakes at times, but we have done our part. Theresa May threatens to discredit Britain’s membership of that community of nations who stand up for freedom. It took pressure from MPs of all parties, her own included, and protests in London before Downing Street, late on Sunday, stated the Prime Minister simply “does not agree” with Trump’s actions. This followed her embarrassing answer in Turkey when asked about Trump’s ban, saying that “The United States is responsible for the United States’ policy on refugees, the United Kingdom is responsible for the United Kingdom’s policy on refugees”.
May’s failure to denounce this shameful policy is as bad as the policy itself. Prior to her trip to the US, she stated herself that the ‘special relationship’ between the UK and US enabled her to speak out when the other does something unacceptable. Is banning the travel of citizens and refugees to your country, based purely on religion, not unacceptable to the Prime Minister? Since the policy’s introduction in the evening of her meeting with Trump, May has failed to speak directly with the President and this can only raise questions as to her true views on the issue. Only with such intense pressure at home has she finally said something that remotely comes across as criticism. May’s view of the ‘special relationship’ should be seen as her attempt to re-establish power and influence for Britain via its relations with the world’s most powerful nation. In light of Brexit and her failure to handle its fallout, May appears to be placing far too much on the relationship with America. So much so that she would ignore an appalling act as the one Trump has carried out. It is obvious for all to see how uncomfortable she is in this position: on the one hand, wanting a relationship with the US to prosper for her to be seen as having made a success of Brexit, and on the other national condemnation in the UK threatens to ruin her premiership before it’s managed to accomplish a single thing.
Theresa May should be ashamed. As a nation with such a large Muslim population that has contributed so much to this country, I cannot proudly say that our leader, our Prime Minister, is standing up to a man who would introduce such a discriminatory act as this. She has an agenda to grasp onto power that Britain no longer possesses in world politics, by pandering to the needs of the United States of America no matter who sits in the Oval Office. People like Trump don’t come around often, but when they turn up in the White House with the authority to do as they please, they cannot be allowed to succeed. May must play her part, not only for Britain’s credibility, but for those around the world who need a strong opposition to Donald Trump’s racist mandate.