Here in the UK, MPs are debating whether or not to ban Donald Trump from entering our nation. Aside from blatantly preoccupying itself with the affairs of a nation across the Atlantic, what irked me even more was the illiberal views of what should be a liberal parliament. Donald Trump is not my cup of tea. In fact, I think a better characterisation of him and his views would be an ocean of slime. The simple difference however, is that I wouldn’t ban him for preaching his intellectually devoid populism, I’d tolerate. I might not like what he says, but I would tolerate it, and that is what a truly liberal country should acknowledge.
However, it seems I am in the minority when it comes to opposing his possible ban. For a petition to be debated in parliament, it must reach at least 100,000 signatures. The petition to block Donald Trump from entering the UK has passed 575,000 signatures as of today.
The first concern which comes to mind is an obvious, yet unlikely one to materialise. What if Donald Trump wins the election? After all, it seems likely he’ll get become the Republican nominee at this point and while there will probably be a swing to the Democrats, a lot of people in America will stand by Trump, whether it be because of genuine faith in his ability to lead, or because he is the lesser of two evils. Either way, banning him runs the risk of souring relations with the USA which is simply unnecessary, especially considering the American election is still in its formative stages.
Furthermore if you think banning Trump is a victory of some kind, you’re wrong. What would be a real victory would be allowing him to come to UK and to let his ill-informed policy positions dismantle themselves. If the objective of a ban is to make sure that Trump does not have a platform to speak upon, that reasoning falls apart too. A ban would only give Trump more publicity, and his supporters more ammunition to claim that there is a conspiracy against them.
Does our parliament have anything better to do than to trifle in the affairs of other nations? The sad answer it seems, is no. While people in our country struggle to make ends meet, our parliament is more concerned with censoring the uncensorable, and criminalising what are actually become more widespread opinions. This is not the approach we should be taking.
If we are to strive for the end of such demagoguery, then rather than blocking out these voices (which is a superficial way of ‘solving’ the problem’) we should be critiquing what they believe in. I could take a pick from the large list of unbelievable things Donald Trump has done, but one event in particularly shook me:
Given the Islamophobia exhibited by a fair few Trump supporters, a Muslim woman by the name of Rose Hamid decided to do something very brave and attend a Trump rally, wearing a shirt saying “I come in peace”. Her reasoning was pretty straightforward, explaining that
Most Trump supporters have probably never met a Muslim so I figured that I’d give them the opportunity to meet one
The result? She was ejected from the rally amidst a chorus of boos from Trump supporters. It seems they were in no mood to accepting differing opinions; rather they felt it was appropriate to mindlessly self-indulge in their own bigotry. By banning Donald Trump, we are descending to the same underhanded ways of his supporters, and ultimately Trump himself. Obviously not in terms of substance, but in style it appears we are dangerously close to just denying what we don’t like to hear.
The phrases “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” seems particularly apt to reflect upon. By focusing our attention on Trump we ignore the issue of growing radicalism. It’s comparable to bandaging a broken leg. While in the short term it may quell some pain, in the long run it does virtually nothing.