The stench of hypocrisy around the media reporting and the public perception of Trump’s travel ban, is becoming quite overpowering. I keep trying to rise above it, to tell myself it doesn’t matter, that it’ll die down, but still the arguments keep raging and still I keep getting drawn in.
Let me make this clear to those who believe I am weighing in on these discussions through a deep-seated love of Trump and a determination to defend him.
I am not a Trump supporter. I was amazed when he won the Republican nomination and even more surprised when he won the presidency.
Having said that, I was not a Hillary supporter either. Thankfully I am not an American citizen so did not have to try to make a difficult choice between these two appalling candidates.
On a personal level, I much prefer Obama to Trump. Obama is stylish, eloquent and humble; Trump is brash, uncouth and arrogant beyond belief.
But above all else, I am a staunch believer in democracy. Donald Trump was elected via a democratic process, and much though I sympathise with the argument that Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote, unfortunately that is not relevant. Trump won the electoral college and that is the vote that counts. He made various promises during his campaign, was elected based on those promises and now appears to be doing his damnedest to follow through on those promises. And his opponents will stop at nothing to prevent him from doing so.
So let’s start talking about a few of those promises, and where they came from.
Well firstly there’s the wall between the US and Mexico. A bit inconvenient that Hillary Clinton openly admitted a number of years ago that she had voted for a barrier to prevent illegal immigrants from entering from Mexico. But let’s just forget that, shall we, and keep pretending Trump came up with the idea. That way we can keep calling him a racist while arguing that Hillary is the very opposite.
Then there’s the travel ban. Donald Trump has placed a 4-month ban on any immigration by any citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen if they are arriving from one of those countries. To be absolutely clear, citizens of those countries, who hold US green cards, and who are arriving from another country (e.g. the UK) are still able to enter. As are citizens who hold dual nationality between one of those countries and a country outside the banned list, and who are arriving from a country outside of the list of banned countries (e.g. a citizen holding British / Iraqi citizenship, arriving from the UK or other European country, is able to enter).
Most of those who oppose the travel ban, do so on the argument that singling out those 7 countries in particular makes it appear racist and anti-Muslim, as those are Muslim-majority countries. They also point out that it’s disingenuous to claim that the 7 countries were singled out based on threat of terrorism, considering there have been no deaths from terrorism in the US since 2011, involving suspects from any of those countries. Moreover, the attackers in the September 2011 terrorist attack were from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which are not on the banned list.
Well, those are all good points but why were these people not making the same arguments when Barack Obama restricted access to the visa waiver programme in 2015 for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Somalia? Or when he extended the restrictions to citizens of Libya, Syria and Yemen in 2016? If it’s really the choice of countries that is at issue, surely Obama should be asked on what basis he determined that citizens of those 7 countries in particular, warranted extra scrutiny on immigration? Surely if it’s racist and Islamophobic of Trump to single out these 7 countries for a temporary ban, it was equally racist and Islamophobic of Obama to single them out for additional scrutiny? Or is it only the word “ban” that makes it racist and Islamophobic, “additional scrutiny” being a much more politically correct term for ensuring “undesirables” are unable to enter the United States?
And finally, we move on to the latest furore, over the Speaker of the Houses of Parliament, John Bercow, declaring that under no circumstances will he permit Trump to address Parliament, given his racist travel ban and horribly sexist attitudes. This from a man who wrote a book providing advice to men on how to pick up virgins, and stating that a woman will settle for “anything that breathes and has a credit card”. Admittedly he made those remarks 30 years ago, when he was much younger, but just as nobody is willing to excuse Donald Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” remarks on the basis that they were made 12 years ago and in private, so Mr Bercow cannot expect us to believe that the intervening years have changed his underlying attitudes to women – he simply has become more adept at hiding them.
I am completely in favour of those who wish to challenge Trump on policies that they feel are unfair, discriminatory or just plain wrong. But what we are seeing at the moment, is attempts to rewrite history, and to ignore political precedent set by Obama and earlier presidents, in an effort to paint Trump’s policies as uniquely discriminatory, and Trump himself as some kind of antichrist who is going to destroy the United States and potentially the entire western world.
The extent to which these types of arguments are serving to stir up hysteria, is ultimately exacerbating racial, political and social tensions. The continued demonisation of Trump supporters, and seeming determination to have Trump impeached at the earliest opportunity, to reject the choice made by the electorate, to point out every way in which Trump does not stack up to Obama and is therefore unfit for office, is quite frankly sickening to observe.
This, I believe, is far more damaging than anything the Trump administration could do, and this is why I will keep weighing in on any argument which seeks to exaggerate the impact of the Trump presidency. If Trump survives his first term, at this rate the next 4 years are going to be exhausting.