People who signed the petition to ban Trump are everything that’s wrong with this country
No, it wasn’t funny
Bet you saw the petition floating around on Facebook.
Remember the one? The one about banning Trump, that Muslim-hater, Republican guy? How funny, right?
Bet you thought you were smart. Yeah. When 2076 of you in Cambridge decided to sign a petition to ban someone on the basis of his beliefs for wanting to ban other people on the basis of their beliefs.
Unless you signed it ironically – and I’m not sure most people did – that made no sense.
And if you signed it ironically, well congratulations, the government – which has banned people before on offensive speech grounds – is officially debating it now and you supported the petition of a woman who seems to be taking the aim pretty literally.
Of course, Trump is terrifying and wrong and an idiot. But his views are also extraordinarily common. A quarter of the British public is as loopy as him. This includes 60% of UKIP voters and even 20% on the Labour side.
So, statistically, you have a Trump in the family – and I seriously hope you’d rather keep Granny in the family than deport her to the Isle of Man or New South Wales or Tasmania.
But there’s something very sinister and illiberal about wanting to do this. It suggests that this country’s progressive intelligentsia – the people in Cambridge, Oxford, Brighton and Edinburgh who have disproportionately signed the above petition – have lost sight of what matters in a liberal country.
I don’t think any country has an obligation to admit any people in general – with the exception of refugees – and I wouldn’t feel particularly offended if the British decided that I as a Hungarian citizen had to be carted off to live under what The Guardian genuinely seems to believe is a dictator.
But if a country’s going to grant short-term permissions to foreigners, I should hope it wouldn’t discriminate on the basis of race or religion or sex or age or loony beliefs about American border control.
Because I am irked by a country that’s going to vet its short-term visitors on the basis of their beliefs. And I am irked by a country in which the default reaction of 560,000 people to something that they don’t like is to ban.
Banning things – like murder, for example, or incitements to violence – isn’t necessarily bad. But the value that banning can have is seriously demeaned by the use of banning to make a politically-charged statement rather than actually secure anyone’s security.
You can come up with some totally implausible explanation of why Trump is a literal physical threat to the danger of some people in the UK.
But it wouldn’t be any more believable than, say, the claim that Catholics in the 19th century had to be banned from this university – as they were – because they’re nutty Mary-worshippers who could hardly hold back from pulling a Guy Fawkes on King’s College Chapel.
Trump is not going to blow up any mosques. At worst, he’ll be a fairly unappetising addition to your TV for a few days. At best, he’ll be subject to the kind of political scrutiny that he seriously needs and the kind of critical attention he wouldn’t find in parts of Murica. And maybe the 25% of the British population who hold his beliefs will benefit from seeing their prejudices challenged in public for once.
Banning people on the basis of their beliefs has a long and proud tradition of being ~terrible~ (to borrow the punctuation of online Twitter activists) and, besides, anyone with an iota of sense ought to realise that if we do actually ban him, that’s just asking for the whole thing to be counter-productive. Being banned by the UK, I’m sure, is golden political ammunition in a country like America.
(Ironically, the people who’ve signed this petition are the same people who insisted that we shouldn’t pursue the strikes in Syria for fear of giving jihadists political ammunition.)
Liberalism is dead. Okay, just a little. But still.