JANET STREET-PORTER: Trump knows exactly what he’s doing by playing the race card but do the British politicians who refuse to call him racist?
When Donald Trump told four Congresswomen to ‘go back to where you came from’ he triggered a wave of protest on both sides of the Atlantic. The House of Representatives voted 240 to 187 to condemn the President, the first official rebuke in over 100 years.
BBC breakfast television presenter Naga Munchetty – who is supposed to remain impartial – broke with convention to describe the remarks as ’embedded with racism’ adding she was ‘furious that a man in his position feels it’s OK to skirt the line of using language like that’.
Over 180,000 people responded on social media. Clearly allegations of racism touch a raw nerve, particularly in the UK where immigration is still a contentious issue and the Brexit vote was a knee-jerk reaction from people frightened that EU nationals would take their jobs.
US President Donald Trump, pictured yesterday at a campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina, told four Congresswomen to ‘go back to where you came from’
The stream of immigrants into Britain – legal and illegal – shows no sign of abating. Latest figures show 283,000 more people arrived than left, with the greatest number coming from outside the EU. Every day Customs officials are intercepting boats in the busy English Channel, packed with would-be refugees from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
Trump has not backed down, tweeting there was ‘not a racist bone’ in his body and ramping up the furore with further insults, claiming the women are ‘whack jobs’ and ‘the reasons why there are directions on a shampoo bottle’.
Defenders like Republican senator John Kennedy says Trump’s remarks were ‘heartfelt’ and ‘part of a Democrat con game’. Trump’s approval rating from party members subsequently rose by five points.
Are we more sensitive on the British side of the Atlantic? No British politician would use this language. Trump’s casual use of racial nastiness brings back horrible memories of Enoch Powell’s anti-immigration ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968.
Powell attacked legislation banning racial discrimination in housing and jobs. He called integration a ‘ludicrous misconception’ and a ‘dangerous delusion’, and predicted that ‘in 15 or 20 years the black man will have the whip hand over the white man’. At the time, the speech divided the nation, with thousands of London dock workers marching in support of Powell’s inflammatory rhetoric. Others condemned the politician for inciting racial hatred and causing social unrest.
BBC breakfast television presenter Naga Munchetty, pictured with her co-host Dan Walker yesterday, broke with convention to describe the remarks as ’embedded with racism’
Trump has used the race card repeatedly. On entering office he promised to stop Muslims entering America. He’s fighting to build a wall to keep Mexicans and people from Southern and Central America out. He speaks, just as Powell did in 1968, to white people worried about losing their jobs, the people who feel forgotten and neglected by government. The poorly educated who say politics is in the hands of big business and smart ass lefties.
Powell was called a racist, but can we say the same of Trump?
What he actually said of the women (three of whom were born in the USA) was ‘why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came?’
As usual, facts are thin on the ground – Trump’s tweets tend to be rants designed to kick start a fight rather than debate fact-checked real issues. Trump is keen for a fight with the Democrats to distract attention from the growing scandal about his friendship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is facing charges of sex with underage girls.
Post Enoch Powell, Britain inched towards a multicultural society with London the home to more nationalities than any other city in the world. Telling someone to ‘go back’ is a meaningless concept. Most Uber drivers in our major cities have come from somewhere else – how long they stay depends on much they can save for a home.
Trump’s casual use of racial nastiness brings back horrible memories of Enoch Powell’s anti-immigration ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in Birmingham in 1968
From Eastern Europe, the Indian subcontinent, most are far better educated than me. They have degrees, qualifications, good language skills. Some have already lived in one or two countries before ending up in London.
Their concept of ‘home’ could be anywhere. After Powell’s speech, telling anyone who looked different to a white Briton to ‘go home’ gradually became unacceptable, although in recent years far right groups like the English Defence League have started to gather strength, recruiting white men of a certain age who yearn for a fake past when Britain was all one colour and everyone had a job.
In fact, unemployment is lower than ever, which makes allegiance to these groups an act of racism based on colour and religious prejudice, pure and simple.
Last weekend, England’s cricket team won the World Cup in a match which attracted millions of viewers and galvanised the nation. Put simply, cricket became hot across cultures and generations. The team looked like no other England team before – Ben Stokes, born in New Zealand, living in Cumbria. Jofra Archer, born in Barbados, now living in the UK, Adil Rashid, born in Bradford of Pakistani parents, Eoin Morgan, born in Dublin, Moeen Ali, born in Birmingham of immigrant parents. A team which truly reflected modern Britain. When it comes to sport, where is home?
Last weekend, England’s cricket team won the World Cup. Put simply, cricket became hot across cultures and generations. The team looked like no other England team before
British-born Asians support England at football and usually divide their support between India, Pakistan, Sri Lankha and Bangladesh at cricket but on this occasion they would have supported the victorious side, whose captain said their strength came from diversity.
Adil Rashid added ‘Allah is on our side as well’. I wonder how Trump would have congratulated the team knowing Muslims were an integral part of it?
Is the President a racist or the kind of coarse political orator Theresa May was complaining about in her final speech at Chatham House this week? She says that politics has become nastier and more imbued with rhetoric but, as Home Secretary in 2013, was responsible for the vans with signs saying ‘go home or face arrest’ that toured inner cities and it was during her time as Home Secretary that the Windrush scandal saw thousands of people from the Caribbean who had been invited to live in Britain denied passports.
May might not use the bombastic language of Trump but she has pandered to the anti-immigration lobby in her time. It’s noticeable that Theresa May, and the two men campaigning to step into her shoes next week stopped short of using the R word.
Politicians won’t call Trump a racist because they are still pussyfooting on the subject of immigration.
Source: Read Full Article