“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
-Emma Lazarus, inscription on the statue of liberty
This week, perhaps more than any, I am struck by where these values have gone.
Trump’s first week in office has been as bad as predicted. Wielding executive orders, he has signed racist, misogynist, and discriminatory bills at a rate the media (and myself) are struggling to keep up with. Here are just a few:
First, there is the ‘Global Gag Law,’ which, signed in front of Trump’s white male cronies, effectively moves funding away from NGOs protecting women’s rights in the developing world, re-establishing sickening white male control over what women can and can’t do with their bodies in the societies where they are most vulnerable.
Then, there is the reassurance that a wall will be built, wasting US tax-payer’s money to solve a so-called immigration problem created by quasi-racism and xenophobia, but which largely benefits the US economy.
And then there is the extreme vetting process, limiting anyone, refugee or immigrant, access to the United States. Where you come from, and the faith you believe in, is how the Trump administration determines your worth.
These are some of a long list of Trump’s early tyrannical triumphs, all are shameful and immoral. Only under extreme pressure, and belatedly, did our Prime Minister take a stance: she ‘disagrees’ with extreme vetting. I’m sorry Theresa May, that is not good enough.
Disagreement isn’t the same as opposing, speaking out, or condemning: it is appeasement. ‘Disagree’ is such a tepid word. It reminds me of when debating in the pub, I realise I can’t persuade someone else of my opinion or can’t win the debate but want to remain friends, so I exclaim ‘Let’s agree to disagree!’
And yet, these are grave moral injustices that target the most vulnerable in the world, the world’s second largest faith, a large community of the UK that May purports to represent, and MPs of the institution she should embody. This shouldn’t be a disagreement in political direction, but an outcry against moral and humanitarian injustice. Theresa May should be ashamed of her lack of backbone: criticism needs to be framed in terms of morality, anything else smacks of appeasement.
But you see appeasement is precisely what Britain is doing. Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with the US, or its support for corrupt regimes, is nothing new. What is, however, is its increasing geopolitical isolation after voting to leave the EU. It is divorcing from its closest neighbours and seeking protection in relationships of convenience with morally corrupt individuals increasingly supportive of violence, such as Erdogan and Trump.
In uneasy seas, Britain has turned towards captain Trump, who is crippled by inexperience and riddled with a disease blinding him of morality. Our job is to oppose this, ensuring our politicians do the same, and stopping its rapid spread from turning into an epidemic. Speak out against this injustice in any way you can.
George Penn (@gtcpenn67)