The United Kingdom has been one of America’s closest allies for over 200 years. Yet the British Parliament recently engaged in a debate on banning a possible U.S. presidential candidate.
On Monday, January 18th, in response to a grassroots petition signed by over 574,000 British citizens, members of Parliament discussed whether Donald Trump should be permitted entry into the United Kingdom due to his consistent use of hate speech and possible influence on preexisting radical groups in the country.
The debate even touched on whether Trump’s message could be considered terrorism itself. Tulip Siddiq of the Labour party stated,
His words are not comical, his words are not funny. His words are poisonous.
She along with other Muslim members of Parliament spoke on personal experiences of bigotry due to the rhetoric spurred by Trump’s speeches.
Those against the ban questioned whether it would cause more harm than good; banning Trump could possibly increase his popularity among his supporters both in the UK and the U.S. They also argued, somewhat ironically, that the debate itself is fueling Trump’s publicity. Other arguments included the difficulties that could arise if Trump is indeed elected President. Imposing a ban could make foreign policy conversations between each country very difficult.
Despite the differences in opinion among the members of Parliament, throughout the debate Trump’s policies were consistently condemned as “bigoted,” “hateful,” and “repugnant,” among other criticism. It is clear that the British government has little respect for Trump, as evidenced by Conservative MP Alex Chalk’s comment,
This is about bufoonery. And buffoonery must not be met with the blunt instrument of a ban. It must be met with the classic British response of ridicule.
What will it mean for the world if Donald Trump is banned from the UK? Is the European Union next? How can a world leader lead if he is banned from entering countries that have stood as allies to the American people for centuries?
If Trump wins the presidency yet is banned from the United Kingdom, international cooperation on the big issues will be far more diffcult to achieve. In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, curb nuclear proliferation by rogue states, and prevent mass atrocities, leaders must be able to work together and support cross-cultural understanding. Donald Trump appears to have no interest in promoting cooperation and engagement with the Muslim world, as evidenced by his comments concerning policies he would like to implement as President. Rather, one proposal he offered would mandate Muslim American citizens and residents to register with a government database or even that they carry special cards that identify them as members of the Muslim faith. The last time a policy like this was mandated, it spurred the beginning of one of the most massive atrocities in world history.
To truly "make American great again," Trump would need to adjust his perception of other cultures and realize the benefits of international cooperation. Otherwise, he may find himself and others in his administration banned from visiting other U.S. allies. This would make it far more difficult for America to become a force for world peace and justice, let alone a force for universal human rights.