So the Trump doctrine is not just the ranting of a shallow, semi-literate rabble-rouser.
By denying a Muslim family of eleven right of entry into the United States – where, apparently, they planned to spend a week in Disney World – the American security services have trumped Trump.
There may, conceivably, be perfectly valid reasons for having kept the family out – now, presumably, for all time – but these have not been revealed. Of course, Homeland Security doesn’t have to give reasons, for reasons of homeland security. But in the absence of explanation it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the family were yanked out of an aircraft boarding line at Gatwick for no better reason than their religion, or perhaps their appearance.
Things can only get worse unless someone of authority in America starts talking sense. Americans are spooked. The San Bernardino massacre perpetrated by a Muslim couple (which is to ignore all the other, secular massacres) has evidently revived all the vulnerabilities and fears that were planted in the American psyche by the attacks on the Twin Towers. Trump revels in them, stirring them up with relish, encouraging for political gain the worst kind of Islamophobia, never been far below the surface in America since 9/11.
Having said that, I also happen to think that Muslim communities, on both sides of the Atlantic, have failed to rally round the cause of harmonious coexistence with their adopted societies, or at least could have done a great deal more to foster it. Sadly, the incident at Gatwick merely promotes the defensive, put-upon, ghetto mindset of Muslims everywhere. Some of the more extreme Imams are probably quietly pleased. “We told you they hate us,” some are no doubt thinking if not proclaiming.
Proceeding on my journey across thin ice, I’ll say more.
As it happens, none of my best friends is Muslim. As what happens? I’ve no idea. But I know Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists, and all manner of other strange Christian denominations. I know Jews and Hindus by the dozens. I know people whose religious beliefs are unknown to me. I associate with even greater numbers of atheists, my fellow travellers.
But Muslim friends remain visible but elusive.
I see Muslims on the streets. I read about them incessantly in the print media. I watch them every time I switch on a television news programme. But somehow, socially, I don’t bump into them. (I’ll concede the point that they may simply be exercising good taste by avoiding me.)
But part of the reason, I think, is that all too many Islamic leaders define the faith in the strictest evangelical terms, anyone not seeing it the same way labelled an apostate. This tends to make their adherents glad to have the spiritual protection from the wider godless world of materialism and hedonism, grateful that by acting differently from the rest of us, they demonstrate their superiority. Of course, the Catholic hierarchy once behaved in exactly the same way, or even worse, but that was centuries ago.
Since Islamic leaders often display and practise an evangelical zealotry unknown today in all other religions – it’s little wonder that many of their followers feel separate, victimised and all too conscious of the differences rather than the similarities between them and the rest of us.
I’m not picking on Islam. I have no more time for any of the other organised peddling of medieval fairy tales masquerading as faiths. (Ironic, isn’t it, that an apparently devout Muslim family should want to enjoy Mr. Disney’s American fairy tales.)
But we shouldn’t be whimsically pulling people off airplanes because we don’t like the look of them – Muslims, Catholics, Jews, Zoroastrians, Seventh Day Adventists or anyone else.
That way lies paranoia and chaos.