I wonder whether there might be any long-term effects from shouting ‘racist’, ‘fascist’, ‘misogynist’ all the time? It is possible that it is hard to think while your fingers are in your ears and you are shouting names at everybody. I just put the thought out there.
Certainly the consequences of not thinking much seem to be all around us. Though the Trump administration has decided to put temporary travel restrictions on people from certain countries, the policy seems to have certain internal inconsistencies. For instance, as Gordon Brown said in 2008, 75 per cent of Britain’s security threats originate from Pakistan. As anybody involved in the American security apparatus in recent years could tell you, one of the biggest – and for a period the biggest – security threats to America has been from Pakistani nationals or people of Pakistani heritage with UK passports heading to America via the UK. So if the Trump administration wants to impose blanket bans on any particular group of people, UK citizens of Pakistani heritage would be a better place to start. Another example of the inconsistency is that the country which most of the 9/11 hijackers came from – Saudi Arabia – is not on the list of countries whose nationals now face a temporary hiatus in their ability to travel to the US.
So there appears to be a certain lack of thought on some of the details of this policy. But it is nothing compared to the lack of thought among the policy’s critics. Indeed the opposition to the ban – from Lily Allen down – is striking for the fact that it has clearly thought about none of the central questions which should have preoccupied us all in recent years. Thus the people who are portraying the ban as something which is illegal, fascist etc are – if I may say so – making a huge long-term mistake.