As a prolific retweeter, I know what it means to RT. You agree, you validate, you share, you accept, you corroborate. As a visibly Muslim woman, I’m outraged that the POTUS thinks it appropriate to condone and validate the tweets of the extremist far-right group, Britain First. Did he think that because the word ‘Britain’ was in the Twitter handle that there was something vaguely patriotic about this group? Do they think that because they have ‘Britain’ in their title their actions are patriotic and exude loyalty to Queen and country? They could not be more mistaken. As someone who retweets vehemently and regularly, I know that any such action is definitely a seal of approval at least, if not an outright affirmation and agreement of the said sentiment. An endorsement. How then is the leader of the new free world and arguably the most powerful man in the world, able to behave in such a manner? The words ‘loose’ and ‘canon’ come to mind. However, there can be no flippancy when he retweets the tweets of an extremists organization seeking to demonize and vilify all Muslims. All 1.6 billion of them. His anti-Muslim stance is taking its toll on the relationship that that UK has with the USA and rightly so.
The post-Brexit Muslim community has seen a staggering rise in Islamaphobic attacks and we do not need the most powerful man in the world to condone or encourage that behaviour.
Are we so desperate that we need to accept the bigoted and racist attitudes of this world leader to ensure trade deals are cemented with the USA? So desperate, that we are willing to sacrifice the morality that asks an ally to call out the unacceptable behaviour which Trump is demonstrating through his Twitter account? When do we finally say that’s enough is enough to the playground bully and arguably the most powerful man in the world? When do we say our alliance with you is not going to withstand the unjust and bigoted views that you hold? Are the UK that desperate, especially since trade deals with Brexit on the horizon seem to be out of our reach that we must then endure the views of a spoilt toddler? Has Theresa May got the spine of a jellyfish? Are we saying that as people in the developing world, the 5th richest country in the world, we need the POTUS so much that we are willing to vilify and demonize an entire community within the UK?
Theresa May has only given Trump proverbial slap on the wrist. Should we then interpret her inability to take any stronger action a move towards an acceptance to make Muslims the ‘fall-guy’, the ‘scapegoat’ or the ‘sacrificial lamb’? What should we then do as a Muslims? Accept it? Is it just another reason why we are fast becoming the ‘Others’?
When Trump retweeted the posts of Britain First, did he think this was an organization that was patriotically and supported British values of tolerance and respect and democracy, or did he merely read the Twitter handle and make his poor judgments based on that alone? Where are his trusted advisors? If he were a child he would have had his phone confiscated by now because he obviously isn’t aware of the ramifications of his actions. Did he have any idea that ‘Britain First’ was what Thomas Meyer yelled when he brutally murdered a member of Parliament, Jo Cox? A British woman was murdered in broad daylight, in her prime, leaving behind two young children. There doesn’t seem to be any real research or due diligence conducted on his Twitter account. He has little or no understanding of the repercussions of his tweets. Whether or not this was his intention, his retweets of Britain first fake videos have resulted in them having a surge in supporters. He has explicitly provided an endorsement for a far-right extremist group and has legitimised their existence. The fact of the matter is, that he has been supporting and endorsing the far-right quite regularly implicitly in the United States America on a regular basis. Some of his closest advisors are affiliated with the far-right. However, that was a whole ocean away – now what he’s done is endorse far-right extremist group in the UK.
Despite his thoughtless, inconsiderate and unthinking thumbs, his retweeting has clearly been met with the reception it truly deserves.
What has been incredibly reassuring and pleasant to see as a British Muslim is the number of MPs that have come out, across all parties, to say that these retweets present an abhorrent view and are an unacceptable standpoint and perspective- they will not be tolerated by the UK. As my leader and representative, Theresa May, in no uncertain terms, needs to unequivocally and categorically outright condemn what Trump has done by retweeting Britain First’s tweets. The condemnation has to come in many forms, firstly the obvious outright public condemnation. Theresa May should have come outside Number 10, stood at her podium, and told the British public that such scaremongering views are not acceptable or tolerated in the UK, and should not be tolerated in what should be the Democratic world. May should also then have withdrawn the invitation of the State Visit for President Trump and made it abundantly clear, that until an apology and a retraction were made there would be no further discussion regarding a State Visit. Unfortunately for us, Theresa May has not done any of the above (apart from a short statement) and the State Visit has now been allocated a date sometime in February 2018.
Will May make it to February? Perhaps that is a discussion for another day.