THERESA MAY appears to imagine that, while she’s on her Middle East trip, she can afford to ignore online abuse thrown at her by her ex-bestie Donald Trump.
Her strongest remark is that the US president was “wrong” to share three videos designed to foster hatred against Muslims.
“The fact that we work together does not mean that we are afraid to say when we think that the United States have got it wrong and to be very clear with them,” she asserted.
The problem is that May regards telling Trump he’s wrong as the end of the matter, even when the US president responds that she should “focus on the destructive radical Islamic terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom” rather than on his championing of the ravings of the Britain First fascist group.
The Tory leader is transfixed by Trump’s status as US president and the convention of British prime ministers playing second fiddle to White House residents.
Labour shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry demands that Britain should “stand up to Trump,” which would be a novel development, although British subservience to Washington goes far beyond one single president.
Islamophobia has not emerged from a vacuum. This virulent phenomenon was spawned by a philosophy developed in tandem with wars of conquest waged by successive US presidents and backed by British prime ministers.
Nor is it specific to far-right groups such as Britain First, upon which May concentrated her fire.
Clipping Britain First round the ear may be gratifying, but the impact of this tiny group’s hate-spewing efforts are minuscule compared with those of one of the most powerful and unpredictable elected politicians in the world, who has forwarded their videos to his 43.7 million Twitter followers.
After Trump provided the oxygen of publicity to Britain First, why did BBC and Channel 4 TV programmes feel the need also to offer its deputy leader broadcast time to state her case?
Trump has previous form in his Islamophobic immigration policy, his slanderous comments directed against London Mayor Sadiq Khan and a stream of crass observations that confuse jihadist death cults with Muslims in general.
May has previously threatened to ban from Britain or prosecute anyone guilty of hate crimes. Trump cannot be exempt from that.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s attempt to avoid the logic of the Prime Minister’s words by drawing attention to joint US-British intelligence work to monitor and disrupt terrorist plots misses the point entirely.
Such co-operation would continue regardless. It need not be accompanied by a grovelling welcome to Britain whenever this Islamophobic oaf chooses to visit.
The Tory government too has to clean up its own act in light of the refusal of both May, when she was home secretary, and her predecessor as prime minister, David Cameron, to condemn the vile attempt by Tory London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith to ape Trump’s smearing of Khan.
The House of Commons debate was necessary to highlight widespread public revulsion, but it leaves a nagging fear that an atmosphere of moral superiority for Britain’s political class might prevail.
Much remains to be done in Britain too when, for instance, the Ofsted school inspectorate still includes guidance that Muslim schoolgirls of four or five should be questioned over wearing the hijab as this “could be interpreted as sexualisation” of children.
Now is not the time for mutual back-slapping but for serious organisation to confront the scourge of Islamophobia.