12 Days Remaining

Saturday 12th
posted by Morning Star in Features

Repressive Tory strategies like Prevent target innocent Muslims, who are assumed to be Isis-supporting fanatics, writes RABBIL SIKDAR

THE clown with the stupid hair is dangerous. For a while now it’s been easy to dismiss Donald Trump as a fool of little political intelligence and social awareness. Click on the Huffington Post videos and see him describing starting out with a loan of million dollars as not being much. His racism towards Mexicans was shocking but to be expected.

Racism is deeply embedded in US history.

But the comments regarding Muslims are something else. From ID cards to banning Muslims from entering the US, this is the tone and language of bygone fascists.

A draconian fury has occupied the formerly liberal space in the US, values cherishing individual liberty shredded ever increasingly in paranoia over Islamic extremism.

What makes Donald Trump’s comments worse are the cheers that followed it. He has supporters. Anyone who doubted that should see how he leads the polls convincingly. Even as most of us on the left eagerly anticipate the clash between the left-wing Bernie Sanders and the centrist Hillary Clinton in the Democratic race, it’s the political fiasco of the Republican debate that should worry us all.

Imagine Donald Trump being the president of the US. How awful ordinary US Muslims must feel now. This is a country where the right wing is so vicious and ruthlessly driven that they can make our own rightwingers appear reasoned and moderate.

That of course is the danger — that focusing on Trump shifts what is extreme to what is moderate. In Britain, everyday media scrutiny, police discrimination, awful Westminster rhetoric and a growing tide of anti-Muslim bigotry have fed the sense of an onslaught against Muslims.

Imagine that in the US, where the bigots carry guns and the language is even more extreme. It’s terrifying. I cannot even go a day on the Tube without fearfully trying to understand the looks I’m getting, conscious of how passengers seek to find any other seat in a crowded carriage rather than sit next to a brown man who occasionally has messy stubble. It’s reached a point where I don’t bother sitting anymore, resigned to accepting that these passengers regard me as the alien on the train.

But what is blood-boiling is how the likes of Trump have allowed us to easily ignore the rhetoric of our own Islamophobes. You don’t have to say something racist to be a racist. Ignoring or denying the existence of racism or supporting ideas that discriminate against a particular community is an act of racism. That’s how it works in Britain.

Trump has allowed us to forget that David Cameron and Boris Johnson are pioneers of some shockingly sinister and draconian Islamophobic policies, even as they seek to present themselves as moderate liberals by rounding on Trump.

Take the Prevent strategy which actively censors the views of the Muslim community, marginalising youths by stifling their political expression under the fear of being branded extremists.

It combs the Muslim community, taking crumbs as a feast of proof of radicalisation within the community. It bans speakers while championing free speech as a stick to hit the supposedly illiberal Muslims with, while politicians past and present repeatedly warn about deep-rooted sympathies for Islamic State (Isis) within the British Muslim community.

Then you have inflammatory media headlines that generate fear and mistrust towards Muslims, whether it’s the Sun’s infamous “one in five” rubbish or the daily flow of hatemongering spouted by the Daily Mail.

Either way, they might not have stupid hair (except for Johnson) or talk in a way that evokes chilling comparisons to Adolf Hitler like Trump does, but let no-one forget that the Tories are a party responsible for pushing Islamophobia onto society for the past five years, backed by an army of journalists more than happy to help them.