Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslims (whether they had Green Cards or not) from entering the USA from seven different countries was a vile and appalling policy initiative.
Thankfully a Federal Court challenge led to this being halted (which included halting all deportations out of the USA), meaning that in the short term at least, Trump has suffered a defeat.
This policy has been widely slammed across the globe, with political leaders, liberal commentators and members of the public, up in arms about Trump’s overly racist plans.
Jeremy Corbyn has gone as far as to say that Trump should be banned from the UK until he lifts his ban, which is the strongest response to the issue from any UK politician.
Theresa May on the other hand initially refused to comment but has since issued a statement after calls from MPs to take a harsher stance on the matter. This is despite the fact that the policy would prevent Iraqi born Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi from entering the US.
But even if she did take a strong stance it would be, at least in part, hypocritical. Whilst many are bemoaning this policy, they also played a role in creating an Islamophobic climate whereby a policy like this could have support and could be implemented by a President.
The Muslim ban didn’t come out of nowhere, it came against the back drop of the “war on terror” and of a gradual tolerance for Islamophobia in the Western world. We must also remember that, without the same public posturing, Barack Obama restricted visa-rights for the same seven countries.
Trump’s policies are extreme and awful, but they aren’t particularly new or unique, but have emerged out of pre-existing regressive policies and political norms. As Glenn Greenwald comments in the Intercept:
A government can get away with bombing, invading, and droning the same group of people for more than 15 years only by constantly demonizing and dehumanizing that group and maintaining high fear levels, which is exactly what the U.S. has done under two successive administrations. Both the Bush and Obama administrations ushered in all-new and quite extreme civil liberties erosions aimed primarily if not exclusively at Muslims.
This is central to understanding how we all allowed this policy to creep up on us. The foundations for it were laid for over 15 years in the name of the “war on terror” and a constant demonization of Muslims within the Western imagination.
Such a climate has allowed for the erosion of civil liberties for certain communities and the implementation of regressive policies such as Prevent in the UK. Prevent and the Muslim ban are different, but they do have clear connections.
It is contradictory for those who support Prevent, a policy that meant spying on and reporting Muslim children, to then bemoan Trump’s rhetoric and Muslim ban.
Many political figures across the globe were happy to indulge such policies as well as Islamophobic language to get into power and to appease constituents.
Even Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, who is now Mayor of London, played into these narratives within discussions around radicalization and ISIS, which shows how bad things have become.
Whilst other MPs advocated checking refugee’s teeth so see how old they were (to allegedly prevent terrorists sneaking in).
It is the rhetoric espoused by these MPs that led to a 326% in anti-Muslim abuse in one year. These MPs though did not really bat an eye-lid at this damning rise in hate, because they played a key role in normalizing it.
All of this happened against the backdrop of an increasingly hateful press that routinley equates Islam with terrorism.
In the end society, must start combatting what is now normalized Islamophobia, the sort of normalized Islamophobia that allows a President to get into power off the back of a proposed Muslim ban.
The public outcry from many who did not comment on these other policies must now be grounded in this broader context, or else it is nothing more than liberal lip service. Trump’s policies are outrageous, but so too are many of the policies we failed to scrutinize in the same way, such as Prevent.
It’s time for us all to fight back against people like Trump, Theresa May and all political figures who normalize hate to justify their political ends.