By Sabby Dhalu
For anyone on the receiving end of the enormous rise in hate crime over the last 18 months, the question of whether Donald Trump visits Britain is not an abstract debate.
At a time when the most high-profile politician in the world is flagrantly promoting racist lies to whip up anti-Muslim hatred, the prospect of his visit poses the clear danger of a further spike in violent persecution and harassment.
Whether it is the full state visit British and US government sources insist will take place “at some stage,” or a “working visit” to open the US embassy in February as recently reported, there can be no doubt that Trump will use the opportunity to spread hatred and division in person as well as on his Twitter profile.
The recent disgraceful retweets of videos distributed by the fascist Britain First were just one example in a series of pointed attempts to demonise Muslims and cosy up to the far right.
After the tweets were debunked as lies by sources including the Dutch embassy, the White House claimed that this didn’t matter at all. In a chilling statement, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: “Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real … the threat needs to be addressed and the threat has to be talked about and that’s what the president is doing in bringing that up.”
These tweets contained acts by people who falsely claimed to be Muslim — there can be no doubt that the “threat” here refers to Muslims directly. Trump had previously tweeted false claims that the rise in violent crime in Britain was due to Muslims.
In reality, hate crimes on Muslims and others soared for a sustained four-month period after terrorist incidents this year — peaking at over 6,000 in June 2017 — higher than the previous peak of 5,500 in July 2016 after the EU referendum.
Meanwhile, Trump’s travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries is a clear attempt to deliver on his election promise of a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the US. Following the Supreme Court ruling allowing enforcement of the ban, anti-racists in Britain stand in full solidarity with those in the US seeking to prevent this outrage from coming into effect.
As Brendan Cox succinctly pointed out following Trump’s retweets: “Trump has legitimised the far right in his own country, now he’s trying to do it in ours.”
The poignancy of the fact that Brendan’s wife Jo, an MP and a pro-refugee campaigner, was murdered by a fascist terrorist heard by witnesses to have shouted: “Britain first” while launching the attack was abundantly clear to all.
Trump has emboldened and allowed to grow a layer of vicious racist and white-supremacist fascist groups and individuals intent on re-establishing racist laws and reviving the kind of violent racism many thought had ended with the civil rights movement. The effect of this is not confined to the borders of the US.
The far right in Britain has failed to achieve the success of its European counterparts, largely because of the unwavering united campaign against them and the racism they feed on. Through the work of Unite Against Fascism and others, they were defeated electorally and on the streets through the mobilisation of all those opposed to fascism and their racist lies were debunked wherever they were spouted.
However, the rise of racist and Islamophobic hate crimes and the growth of the Football Lads Alliance indicate there is no room for complacency. The presence of the US president, who is directly promoting racism while equivocating on fascism — as he did in Charlottesville — is a major threat. It will be welcomed by all fascists and racists.
This means that opposition to Trump must take a sharper form than simply mobilising against the pantomime villain he seems happy to play. As Trump’s actions embolden and strengthen racism, fascism, Islamophobia, anti-semitism, sexism, homophobia and disablism, our mobilisations against him must form part of a wider and united struggle to defeat them.
Following Trump’s initial attempt to reinforce the Muslim ban, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Britain to join the thousands in airports and cities across the US protesting against it and it was then stopped in the courts.
The following March, over 30,000 people took to the streets for the March Against Racism which combined opposition to Trump’s racism with solidarity towards migrants and refugees and opposition to the rise in racism, Islamophobia and anti-semitism.
The annual demonstration for UN Anti-Racism Day, organised by Stand Up To Racism, forms the basis of a powerful alliance against racism, including a broad range of politicians, trade unions, faith groups and campaigns.
As Trump and his allies in Europe pursue an increasingly vicious racist agenda, this year’s march will take place in cities across the world, showing the depth and size of the global anti-racist movement and providing hope that this wave of hate can be turned back.
If the campaign to keep Trump out of Britain is ignored and he is allowed in, as well as taking serious account of the damage his visit will cause, anti-racists will take to the streets to say Trump is not welcome here.
You can pledge to join the demonstration against Trump if he comes at bit.ly/standuptotrump and get the latest news from Stand Up to Trump at twitter.com/Standup2TrumpUK and facebook.com/Standup2TrumpUK.
The above article was first published here by the Morning Star