Today I read an article by Douglas Murray in The Spectator which echoed thoughts I have had myself recently.
The other night my mother mentioned that she would be coming over. I said something about tidying up. She responded with “Don’t worry.” Quickly, she corrected herself. “As a social worker, I know you’re never supposed to say ‘Don’t worry.’” Indeed, saying don’t worry often makes people worry more. Then, I found myself explaining to my mother, who happens to hate Donald Trump, that some of his appeal is probably driven by just that dynamic.
It’s an idea that had crossed my mind sometime before, but has been at the forefront since the San Bernardino shooting. Although I would never turn to Trump for answers, every time someone on the left starts pooh-poohing the Islamic State or terrorism I feel like I want to jump up and down and start yelling, “What part of ‘We’re going to kill you,’ don’t you get?” I would much prefer to have liberal politicians who can be honest about the existence of a militant Islamist ideology deal with the matter in a measured way. However, if we can’t have a proper response, an over response is preferable to an under response. I wish our ruling class could recognize that the appeal of Donald Trump comes from desperation.
In “The left is to blame for the creation of Donald Trump” by Murray, starts by pointing out that “the great problem of our time does not have to be a partisan issue.” But, as he goes on to explain, “in response to the political left failing to identify the problem, the political right has started going off.”
“The American left has a huge problem in the form of a President who refuses to name Islamist terrorism or identify where it comes from. His likely successor, Hillary Clinton, has the same issue. Of course the word-play this leads to may be perfectly well-meaning…. But when you have 14 people being gunned down in America again apparently in the name of a specific extremist ideology, not identifying where it comes from becomes part of the problem, driving people on all sides mad with rage and making them wonder what else is being kept from them.
“Which brings us onto Donald Trump. Last night Donald Trump announced a new ‘policy’ idea which would be to stop any more Muslims going to America. He would even, it seems, prevent Muslim Americans who are currently out of the country on their holidays, from returning home. This is – it need hardly be said – a back of the envelope policy. And it has already had the desired effect. The social justice warriors who mistake Twitter for real life, have been busily signalling their utter outrage at Trump’s remarks. Journalists have seized the opportunity (which the New York Times and others have been trying all along) to insinuate that Trump is in fact the new Hitler. The reaction is as ill-tempered as the original comment. But we should know how we got here.”
He goes on to say:
“But what people seem slow to realise is that suppressing legitimate concerns and decent discussion inevitably leads to people addressing the same things indecently. We can thank the American left for the creation of Donald Trump and we can thank them for his comments last night. For years the left made the cost of entering this discussion too high, so too few people were left willing to discuss the finer points of immigration, asylum or counter-terrorism policy and eventually the only release valve for peoples’ legitimate concerns is someone saying – wrongly in my view – ‘keep them all out.’”
Large parts of the left will simply ignore this warning. They look at Donald Trump and say, “Americans are stupid,” seemingly unaware that this is more or less the same electorate that elected a Democratic president, a Democratic senate, and a Democratic house back in 2008. “Americans are stupid,” has always been a weak cop-out that flatters the self-importance of the speaker while excusing failure and justifying inaction. They never seem to ask exactly what is making Americans so “stupid.” (“They just are,” is not a good answer.)
In an interesting, related subject, the Spectator has another article about the Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, a feminist who brought up the subject of Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women.
“Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador and stopped issuing visas to Swedish businessmen. The United Arab Emirates joined it. The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, which represents 56 Muslim-majority states, accused Sweden of failing to respect the world’s ‘rich and varied ethical standards’ — standards so rich and varied, apparently, they include the flogging of bloggers and encouragement of paedophiles. Meanwhile, the Gulf Co-operation Council condemned her ‘unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’….”
The writer, Nick Cohen, continues:
“It is a sign of how upside-down modern politics has become that one assumes that a politician who defends freedom of speech and women’s rights in the Arab world must be some kind of muscular liberal, or neocon, or perhaps a supporter of one of Scandinavia’s new populist right-wing parties whose commitment to human rights is merely a cover for anti-Muslim hatred. But Margot Wallström is that modern rarity: a left-wing politician who goes where her principles take her.”
At least in the United States, this is a very recent development, and one I find more than a little confusing and which puts me, as I said the other day, in the situation of feeling like I have no party, no side, no allies. I can’t truly be alone, but try as I might I see no one in the press expressing even a shadow of my ideas. Since I’ve never been on the margins, never a conspiracy theorist, this is a distinctly new feeling.
Cohen goes on to mention something interesting:
“Sweden is the world’s 12th largest arms exporter — quite an achievement for a country of just nine million people. Its exports to Saudi Arabia total $1.3 billion. Business leaders and civil servants are also aware that other Muslim-majority countries may follow Saudi Arabia’s lead. During the ‘cartoon crisis’ — a phrase I still can’t write without snorting with incredulity — Danish companies faced global attacks and the French supermarket chain Carrefour took Danish goods off the shelves to appease Muslim customers. A co-ordinated campaign by Muslim nations against Sweden is not a fanciful notion. There is talk that Sweden may lose its chance to gain a seat on the UN Security Council in 2017 because of Wallström.
“To put it as mildly as I can, the Swedish establishment has gone wild. Thirty chief executives signed a letter saying that breaking the arms trade agreement ‘would jeopardise Sweden’s reputation as a trade and co-operation partner’. No less a figure than His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf himself hauled Wallström in at the weekend to tell her that he wanted a compromise. Saudi Arabia has successfully turned criticism of its brutal version of Islam into an attack on all Muslims, regardless of whether they are Wahhabis or not, and Wallström and her colleagues are clearly unnerved by accusations of Islamophobia. The signs are that she will fold under the pressure, particularly when the rest of liberal Europe shows no interest in supporting her.”
This reminded me however of reports I heard earlier this year that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is encountering financial difficulties. The cynical side of me can’t help wondering how much money influences what our politicians see and say. The Clinton Foundation has received between 10 and 25 million dollars from the King of Saudi Arabia and the Sultan of Oman has given between 1 and 5 million. We do not know what President Obama will do as an ex-president, but former President Clinton has set a troubling example.