Since Donald Trump has taken office, he’s openly done and said a whole host of outright racist and xenophobic things – each of which we could revisit now but, to be bluntly honest, I can’t be bothered to write the forty pages that such a list would fill. So, for the moment, we’ll focus on his recent activity on one of his favourite platforms on which to denigrate communities and incite hatred: Twitter. From Mussolini quotes to reposts of memes shared by an account called @whitegenocidetm (you can’t make this shit up), Trump has consistently used his Twitter account to convey his bigoted views – and his latest message to his 43.6 million or so followers is no less divisive.
In a move that has been widely condemned by politicians in the UK – including Jeremy Corbyn and, for once, our PM, whose reaction Trump has since dismissed – Wednesday saw POTUS retweet three videos, originally posted by the deputy leader of Britain First, Jayda Fransen. These videos are titled, “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!”, “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!”, and “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” – the first of which depicts an assailant who is actually not Muslim, nor a migrant (can I get a #fakenews?). Understandably, people are pretty pissed off at the message that Trump is sending in reposting them – that all Muslims are vicious criminals, and that Britain First knows what’s up.
Britain First was founded by former members of the BNP (British National Party) in 2011, and is now the most “liked” British political party on Facebook. The far-right group whose name was shouted out by Thomas Mair as he murdered Labour MP Jo Cox last year, the group who leads mosque invasions and Christian patrols, and who warned of the “militant direct action” it intended to take against elected Muslim officials following Sadiq Khan’s victory in London’s 2016 mayoral election.
This retweeting was not a “mistake” made by Trump, on the basis that “he didn’t realise who Britain First were”, as mused by Tory politician and government minister Martin Callanan. In his own words: “You know, I retweet, I retweet for a reason”, and his reason here is clear – he hates Muslims (for a quick recap, please refer to this or this). Fransen’s assertion of “a cancer moving through Europe, and that is Islam” is pretty damn similar to Trump’s declaration that the US has “a problem in this country; it’s called Muslims”. The self-proclaimed anti-Islam Britain First is simply Make America Great Again’s tea-sipping, scone-munching cousin across the pond.
Fransen – who is currently facing charges of religiously aggravated harassment – and the rest of Britain First are predictably thrilled at the perceived support that they’re receiving from the President. The former has gained at least another 10,000 followers on Twitter since Trump’s effective endorsement.
David Duke, the former leader of the KKK, has also expressed his love for the President and his animosity against the world’s Muslim population following Wednesday’s retweets.
Let’s take a moment to let that sink in. The views of the leader of the free world are celebrated by members of the freaking KKK.
In the words of Brendan Cox, widower of Jo Cox, “Trump has become the poster-child for bigotry”. He is the writer, director, and lead performer of the west’s current political shit show – one that should, under no circumstances, be given a space on our national stage.
Lib Dem leader Vince Cable has deemed Trump an “evil racist”; Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy has condemned the President’s promotion of “a fascist, racist, extremist hate group”; and both Cable and Lammy have called for the cancellation of his upcoming state visit to the UK. Yet, whilst Theresa May has, through her official spokesperson, called POTUS out as “wrong” for having shown an alliance with a group that “seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions”, her official invitation to Trump remains very much open. And we’re reminded once again that our lives and identities are disposable in the face of maintaining a “special relationship” with a racist bigot.