Nationalism does nothing but teach you how to hate people that you never met and take pride in accomplishments you had no part in – Doug Stanhope
There is a fine line between loving one’s country and hating one’s neighbour.
The Republican Party/GOP presidential primary is in full swing with the card full of strong right-wing candidates such as Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Jeb Bush. Yet there is one man who even Dick Cheney believes to be too extreme. Donald Trump.
The billionaire announced his intention to run for president on a patriotic stars and stripes campaign. “Make America Great Again!” he bellowed to huge cheers. Some of the public instantly loved him with his dismissive manner towards the mainstream politicians, he claimed with his wealth that he would put Americans first. What Donald Trump defines as an American at least.
There is a sense of rising xenophobia and Islamophobia in the West and it has become a common topic in the GOP debates as the candidates bolster their position by being the anti-Islamist president in the wake of ISIS attacks. Though there is a lack of distinction between fighting extremists and condoning a religion, especially since the United States was a country founded on religious freedom.
Recently, a British family flying to Disneyland was banned by the US. One of the fathers, Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, describes how their visas were revoked without any explanation from Border Control or the American Embassy. That day I posted the below tweet saying that the rise of Trumpism is affecting how Muslims are being treated in the West.
The backlash was crazy.
Tweeters were quick to come to Donald Trump’s defence and shifting the blame. First, I was reminded that in fact Barack Obama was president of the United States of America, not Donald Trump. When I said these events were down to Trumpism, it is not because Donald Trump is directly stopping these people from entering the United States but we need to realise that he operates on a powerful platform that is created upon media attention and money. What he says carries influence.
When not bashing the Democrats and indulging in everyday sexism, Donald Trump has been determined to blame all of America’s problems on foreigners. First, his focus was on China. China had been dominating the global market and undercutting American competitors. We had to be wary of this rivalling superpower and if he were president, he would have the business acumen to take them on.
Also, the onslaught of my tweet continued.
Next on Trump’s hit list was Mexico. What has Mexico done exactly? According to Mr Trump they are flooding America with drugs, crime and rapists. His solution would be to deport the six million undocumented Mexicans living in the country (including American born offspring) back over the border. Then a construction of a Great Wall of Mexico to keep them all out. Despite all his wealth he would then force Mexico to pay for it.
You would be thinking he was some deluded fool until his shocking statement when he said “we have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims.” Again, the economic and social failure were being placed on the shoulders of a minority group making up less than 1% of the country. He then called for a complete ban on all Muslims entering the United States.
The ban of people based on religious beliefs was met with thunderous applause. These views would be all deemed to be ridiculous by a rational person but the startling fact is that Trump’s popularity soared after this speech.
Xenophobia and racism is growing in other countries as well. In France they have the dynasty of Front National. Marine, the granddaughter of party’s first leader is now the fresh face of the party and is tipped to be a future president of the county. The popularity of the unembarrassed racist party was shown at the polls when they won the first set of elections in November. In Britain, there is UKIP. A party hell bent on curbing immigration and where many of its members or councillors have made unashamed, racist remarks.
The worst was yet to come for the tweet.
Applauding Islamophobia and using Katie Hopkins for ‘facts’ are both terrifying notions.
In the aftermath of terrorist attacks the public is afraid. Some of my friends admitted not wanting to go to London during the holiday season in case it would be a future target. When you live in fear, you want to blame it on anything, something with a face. Many people are blaming all Muslims for the terrorist attacks.
Recently, my friend Valerie (not her real name) who is of Pakistani origin, told me a story of when she was walking through the park in the middle of the day. A couple walked past her and the male stared at her and frowned, his face distorted by hate. “Terrorist,” he spat the word at her. Valerie was hurt and confused. Why was she being singled out for the Paris attack?
An othering effect is taking place where the world is being seen as US versus THEM. US being the whites of European descent and THEM being any person resembling the Middle Eastern or Asian ethnicity. The correlations between the treatment of Muslims of today and the Jewish people of the 1930s are becoming too common.
Does it matter if Donald Trump is not president? His position gives him the power to talk from a point of authority and those who are afraid will follow. Trump’s hate rhetoric spreads hate, division and fear.