Friday, 5 February 2016


Donald Trump doesn’t care about political correctness. He knows that being politically incorrect will always have a market. He’s a super marketing guy after all, who’s now peddling hatred because that kind of racist rhetoric will find acceptability among those who either live in perpetual paranoia or whose views about the “other” are vitriolic. 

Trump talks about banning Muslims from entering the United States, in case he becomes the US President. He is anti-immigrant, his views bordering on supremacist ideas. 
For me he’s like a Klu Klux Klan member trying to gatecrash the White House. And as he does so, he conveniently forgets that about 5,800 members of the US forces are Muslims, defending a largely Christian nation. 

For him, it is not important that most of the terror plots are reported by alert members of the Muslim community in the US. He is not concerned that his negative views about Muslims and immigrants have been condemned across the world. He continues with his diatribe, negating the idea of America being the land of immigrants, where diversity is welcomed. He’s trying to push back USA to its shameful past when race of an individual mattered.

But it does matter even today as Trump has shown: the focus has just shifted from colour of skin to religion. Barack Obama may have been US President for two terms, but fearful perceptions about the “other” haven’t changed much. A lot many people in the US are resentful of the political correctness of their leaders; many are disappointed with President Obama’s muted response to the Islamic State terrorists. The hesitation of leaders across parties to call a spade a spade --- they worry even to utter the world ‘Islamist’ --- has angered those who were looking for robust leadership in the face of global terror unleashed by fanatics who malign Islam. And it is this anger which Trump is exploiting, just to get votes.

When Trump entered the US presidential race, he was not taken seriously; he was like a comedy show on the sidelines of the campaign for the White House. But look where he is now: Trump is a Republican front-runner and his words are taken note of across the world, evoking reactions of all hues. Whether or not Trump wins the Republican nomination, he has certainly waged a war of ideas, between pluralism and exclusion.  

It is this mainstreaming of negative views that is worrisome for a diverse country like the US and the world in general. People like Donald Trump --- and there are many like him around the world --- make the minority communities defensive. The minorities are made to feel that their desire to be citizens with equal rights is of no value, even in a democracy. They are told that because of their religion, race or inclination, they are not welcome. And that stifles those in these minority communities who wish to contribute to the nation. Because of hateful public figures like Trump, people tend to forget that minorities too are human beings who deserve respect and opportunities to excel. It’s dangerous, because Trump and his ilk feed to fanaticism and butchery that terrorists promote. In that, there’s not much of difference between Donald Trump and the Islamic State terrorists.

In a way Trump is like Enoch Powell, the British politician who was anti-immigrant and spoke about the non-Whites in apocalyptical terms. One would recall how Powell in his infamous 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech had spoken about the immigrants. Speaking in Birmingham, Powell had said: “We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependents.” His vituperative words found support in many White Britons, who feared job loss and being outnumbered by the immigrants, mostly Blacks and Asians. However, Powell got sidelined in politics over the years and the United Kingdom today is a proud multi-ethnic nation; the economy is powered by the sizeable minority communities. Yes, there have been debates on integration and multiculturalism, but the UK is marching ahead with people of different faiths and races.

I expect Trump to be trumped likewise and the US to reject him, keeping the hope alive that as a democracy that country will protect everyone, irrespective of their background. A democracy cannot be propelled by means of brute majoritarianism. Trump may be spewing venom now, but it is for the sake of the United States and the values it cherishes that regressive ideas must be defeated by sane people. It’s time to call Trump’s bluff and unite against such divisive politics. And in that there shall be a lesson for us in India.