Two things this week can focus on nothing other than Trump’s travel ban. No, it’s not sexy. But I cannot think of anything else right now. So here we go.
The bad: Trump’s travel ban
Where do you even start with this? Trump banned people from some Muslim-majority countries (based on a logic I can only guess was ‘who don’t I like?’) from coming into the US. This included many people who had already been given visas. People who already lived there. Regardless of the effects (which were awful) or the reasoning (racism) this is a truly appalling assault on human rights. Good on the heroes who are standing up to him.
To those who’d say ‘well you didn’t protest X other human rights issue’, there are two points here:
- Yes I did. I do lots of things outside this blog. I may not have posted about it here because I try to stick to the broad categories in the right-hand column, so I guess this post might stand out a bit. But right now Trump is all I can hear and see, so this is partly an exercise in exorcising him from my brain. And…
- We (by which I generally mean British people) are more likely to get onto the streets to protest this than, say, human rights violations by Saudi Arabia for one simple reason: WE EXPECT BETTER. We expect better of America. It’s for the same reason you’re more likely to challenge your ‘woke’ friend for using problematic language than your elderly grandma who has grown up believing that it’s acceptable. You expect better of your friends. You just do.
What’s more, while there are many human rights violations going on in the rest of the world, all of which we should certainly object to, the USA is currently number 1 on our Prime Minister’s ‘suck up’ list. She’s kissing arse to notoriously duplicitous, shoddy businessman Trump to get us a post-Brexit trade deal. That’s bad enough, because we’ve effectively told the EU that if they give us a bad deal we’ll walk away, but at the same time told Trump he can do whatever he wants and we’ll still toady and simper in the hope that he’ll look favourably upon us. But it gets infinitely worse when Trump does things that are overtly, shockingly, appallingly racist. At that point insisting we still have him over for tea with the Queen starts to look exactly like complicity.
If Trump is the bully punching Muslim kids in the schoolyard, we’re the simpering acolyte who stands behind him, offering whispers of encouragement in the hope that he’ll offer us some of the pocket-money he steals when he’s done kicking his victim’s head in.
The ‘special relationship’ that everyone likes to bang on about is less about friendship than it is about cowardice and fear.
We’re bullies too.
We’re Piers fucking Morgan.
The good: Opposition to Trump’s travel ban
I cannot possibly produce an exhaustive list of all the opposition to Trump’s travel ban, but feel free to seek out dissenters wherever you live, and give them a helping hand in whatever way you can. In the UK, here are some of the key things you can do:
Sign the petition
It’s still there. 1.6 million signatures and counting. That’s more than the number of people who’d have been needed to swing the Brexit referendum, FYI.
Write to your MP
Here’s a site where you can easily find out who your MP is, and send them an email. Ask them to withdraw the invitation for a state visit. Ask them to challenge the government on its relationship with Trump. Make it known that MPs complicit in human rights abuses can – and will – be voted out.
Turn up to marches
This isn’t possible for everyone, but if it’s possible for you please do head along to a march in your area – the next one I know of is outside the US Embassy in London on Saturday. I can’t find any sites at the moment with a full list of protests across the country so if you know of one please do let me know and I’ll add to this.
Support media orgs that are calling out Trump
My favourite source for opinion is Media Diversified – a recent article by Maya Goodfellow is a fantastic overview of the ways in which the UK is complicit with Trump, and how May (as well as many on the left) have helped feed into a narrative that demonises not just immigrants but refugees too.
Recognise where we fail
It’s easy for us to shout about Trump so loudly that we drown out stories of our own appalling failings. There are some listed in the article above, and we have done plenty more that warrants scrutiny and outrage. The charity Detention Action supports people being detained in the UK, Refugee Women campaigns to end the detention of women asylum seekers in the UK. There are many more. Our treatment of people who come to us for asylum is (at best) patchy and (at its worst) downright abusive.
Report hate crimes
Seeing as this list is very UK-focused, I’m going to use it as an opportunity to point out that in the UK we don’t have the same free speech protections as people in the US do. Whatever your opinions on ‘free speech’, the fact remains: in the UK, inciting others to commit hate crimes is a criminal act. You can report it here.
You know Richard Spencer, the Nazi who got punched? In the UK he could have been prosecuted under this law. It’s a tool designed specifically to prevent people like him spreading ideas so toxic they put other people in danger.
Comment on this blog post to tell me that I’m overreacting and give me your long-winded theory on why everything will definitely be fine, or why Trump’s travel ban isn’t racist and reactionary
Oh no wait, sorry. That isn’t helpful at all.