On The Protests in the UK and the Muslim Ban

Yeah, this one’s about politics and the Muslim ban, not travelling. Whatever.

I’ve tried to write a political article about 5 times in the past 48 hours, and every time I’ve given up and scrapped it. My thoughts are too disjointed and frantic and plain fucking furious to put into any comprehensible order. Instead, I’ve decided to simply write a list, wherein I will answer the myriad complaints I have seen about the Muslim ban protests that took place across my homeland yesterday. You might have thought that people could not find much fault with peaceful protests for the sake of the rights of fellow human beings, protests designed to show support and camaraderie with a people that is being increasingly maligned. However, you would be wrong, for this is 2017. The Second World War is slowly passing out of living memory, and humanity, with eye-rolling predictability, seems to be toying with the idea of destroying each other once again. So let’s get into it.

Complaints about the UK Muslim Ban Protests

Criticism:

If they care so much, why haven’t all these crowds been protesting about X?

Response:

‘X’ in this instance can be any number of things. I have read comments and articles criticising the protesters for not also protesting the treatment of women and gays in Saudi Arabia, the hate speech of Anjem Choudary in the UK, and the fact that there remain homeless people on the UK streets. Right wing anti-protesters seem very happy with this response. Let’s explore this idea. I’ll break it down.

First of all, the people making these complaints seem to fail to grasp the notion that it is possible to care about more than one cause at once. I care about Muslims. I also care about the homeless. Monday’s march was for Muslims. The reason it was for Muslims is that the over the weekend the 45th US President signed an executive order that reduced the rights of millions of Muslims, emboldened racists, and made good, honest people fear for their safety.

Second, the people who have been saying things like ‘why didn’t you protest X’ have invariably not protested ‘X’ themselves. Piers Morgan attempted to mock Owen Jones this morning in a television interview by asking him why he didn’t protest Saudi Arabia’s appalling treatment of gays. Owen Jones replied that he did, in fact, protest, and further, that he arranged and led the protest himself. Jones asked Morgan if he himself had protested the issue. Morgan said no, he didn’t feel the need to. Right.

The truth of the matter is that right wing anti-activists do not care at all about the rights of women and gays in Saudi Arabia, or homeless people, and, though they may get angry about Anjem Choudry and his hate speech, they certainly did not care enough about him to quickly Google his name and realise that he is already in jail as of last year for promoting terrorism, after being universally condemned by the media and government. If these anti-protesters truly cared about the homeless, the poor, the downtrodden, they would not continually take the side of a government that is infamous for its callous indifference towards these people. They are simply using these people as a nice convenient political leverage to further their right wing agenda and make them feel better about the fact that they do not truly care about anything.

Third, the protests are in response to one of the leading economies in the world, the most powerful military in the world, and the largest superpower in the world, backtracking on previously established human rights. If the USA is left unchallenged to make these abominable changes to its policy, more countries will follow. If it can happen in the USA, it can happen anywhere. The protests are larger against the Muslim ban than protests about other world human rights issues have been because the issue is pressing and urgent, and far more people are affected – say, oh, a quarter of the people in existence.

Oh, and before you get all excited forming your very clever and logical counter argument about how it’s not a ban on all Muslims – yes, I am aware, and so are all the protesters marching. ‘But he isn’t discriminating against all of them!‘ is not a valid counterpoint to discrimination. However, I’m not so sure the droves of xenophobes and racists on social media are aware of this, from what I’ve seen. It seems that Trump’s ‘ban all Muslims!’ campaign rhetoric has stuck in the public imagination. Who’d have thought?

Fourth, and possibly most important, why, when all the other issues are listed that could be protested about instead, are the rights of Muslims invariably placed last? If the right wing anti-activists are to be listened to, every other issue in the world must be resolved before protesting for Muslim rights can even be considered. When homelessness is eradicated, when full employment is achieved, when austerity is ended, when our health service is safe, when human rights violations in others countries have ceased, they say, then we can protest for Muslim’s rights (maybe). The only thing is: none of these things are on the right wing to-do list.

Muslims have been relegated to the bottom of the priority pile. I think that shows us what this argument is, at its core:

To these people. Muslims. Do. Not. Matter.

Criticism:

Why bother protesting in the UK? Trump won’t take any notice.

Response:

The protests on Monday were not created for Trump to take notice, although notice he will. Donald Trump has famously thin skin, and has attacked everyone from Buzzfeed to a Broadway play. His vanity is such that he will be glued to the television as the marches unfold. But that is beside the point. The marches are intended to send a message to the British government, a message to say that the people are furious at how weak we have been made to look by our Prime Minister literally, fucking literally, holding hands with Trump.

Thousands of protests shows the anti-Trump USA, shows Muslims everywhere, shows Theresa May, shows every cowardly appeaser, that we will. Not. Stand. For. This. The Brexiteers wanted to ‘take back control’. In their vision of an EU-free United Kingdom, I wonder if they envisaged our PM holding hands with a fascist in order to curry favour with the USA. Did we take back control, or did we just switch our allegiance from the EU to the new fascist USA?

INTERLUDE: FASCISM

You may have noticed I have used this term a couple of times. I have read defenders of Trump say that liberals do not even know what fascism means. You know who does know? The dictionary. Let’s take a look, courtesy of Merriam-Webster.

1:  a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

Thanks Merriam-Webster! Guess the Trump administration is fascist after all!

Now where we? Oh yeah.

Criticism:

‘You lot must not have jobs if you’re able to spare time to protest, you bunch of hippies, slackers and unwashed students.’

Response:

Protesters do have jobs, and the protests were held after working hours. This really isn’t a difficult notion to understand. The wilful ignorance of some people is staggering. To me, the untrue stereotype of the ‘purple haired hippy protester’ perpetuated by readers of the Daily Mail and the Express is a projected self-loathing. The people who do not love life enough, the people who do not care enough to do anything for the sake of anyone else, have made ‘do-gooder’ an insult, and made these people out to be freaks. Only freaks want to help others! To ‘do good’ is now a bad thing, in right-wing vernacular. Using this term in reference to those out in the streets protesting says infinitely more about the person using the phrase that it does about those it is meant to insult.

Criticism:

It’s not racist because Muslims aren’t a race.

Response:

Hokay, let’s go back to the dictionary!

Race (noun)

  1. each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics.
  2. the fact or condition of belonging to a racial division or group; the qualities or characteristics associated with this.
  3. a group of people sharing the same culture, history, language, etc.; an ethnic group.

There we have it, folks! Turns out you can be racist to Muslims. Who knew?!

Criticism:

Many Arab countries boycott Israeli citizens!

Response:

Yes, this is true. How on earth this, in some people’s minds, equates to justification for the West to also begin banning citizens is beyond me. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Lead by example. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Good god, we learned this in kindergarten, for christ’s sake.

Criticism:

We are at risk from ISIS!!!

Response:

We may well be. Now, listen in close, I’m going to share a secret with you. Do you know why ISIS carry out terrorist attacks, rather than all-out war? It’s because there is very few of them. They do not have the numbers to engage in open conflict, and so must engage in terrorism. This is a very common tactic in wars where a small group engages a much more powerful force.

Now, let’s say you are the head of ISIS. You are running out of men, fast. You need more recruits for your extremist Islamic army. How to get them? You can’t exactly advertise, can you? Everyone finds you repulsive. But wait! Lightbulb moment. You plot random attacks all across the globe, and every time the blame is pinned on Muslims. Not just Muslims, but Muslim immigrants! Yes! That will sow seeds of doubt in the non-Muslim population, and will increase distrust and tension between Muslims and non-Muslims. They will never know whether that seemingly happy, innocent corner shop owner is secretly plotting to have them blown up!

Increase the terror attacks, keep them random, unpredictable, hit everywhere from cafes to nightclubs so that Westerners do not feel safe anywhere. Even hit Germany, the country that was brave and kind enough to take in millions of refugees. Make them regret it! Make them hate the very refugees they took in!

The population gets scared, terror spreads, and far right groups gain followers. Muslims are increasingly vilified, and racist rhetoric grows, bubbling under the surface constantly. More attacks. More deaths. More fear. Keep the pressure up. Keep killing. Make them hate you. And what’s this? A far right populist candidate runs for election in the USA! You can barely contain your laughter – you never expected it to be so easy! The candidate wins, and within one week, one week of his inauguration, he has set the world on fire, smeared the entire Muslim community; one billion people, and has caused a solar flare of fear and loathing right across the Western world.

Now all you have to do is sit back and watch. Watch the low simmering hatred boil over, watch everything turn upside down, watch the disenfranchised, devastated people with nowhere else to go turn away from the USA and look for somewhere, anywhere that will take them in, now that the world has turned its back on them. You welcome them with open arms. You swell your ranks. Grow your army. You have achieved exactly what you set out to. And all the while, all the while Donald Trump and his supporters are screaming victory. No more Muslims. No more refugees. They pat themselves on the back. They have made America Great Again.

A Final Point

I am, to be quite honest, fucking disgusted at the hatred being flung at the protesters out in the streets this week. Protesters and campaigners and martyrs down the ages have won us every single human right we now take for granted. We won our liberties, they weren’t given to us. Now, people are desperately fighting to keep them, and all that a terrifyingly large portion of the population can do is sit on the sidelines and laugh as these people suffer and struggle.

It won’t make a difference. I don’t care if there is nobody left at all fighting for justice. I don’t care if the world goes completely insane. Human rights are human rights, and no human life is worth more than any other. I’m taking a stand for those human beings who are having their rights stolen, and I’m going to give every ounce of my energy to defending those who need it. I don’t care how long it takes, I don’t care how many people say I’m a fool. I don’t care if my heart is broken every single day for the rest of my life as I watch the world around me crumble, and I see the humanity I believed in so fiercely grow twisted and grotesque. None of it makes a difference, because I know what is right, I know what is just, and I won’t give up, ever.

 

What about you?

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