Sunday, May 8, 2016

Paging Mr. Trump! A message from Mr. Khan

ON FRIDAY, while much of the world (and most of the incurious United States) sifted through the results of the Indiana primary just three days earlier, the city of London took receipt of its future, and sent Donald Trump a message he’s well advised to pay attention to for the next six months.

Sadiq Khan, Member of Parliament, Labour Party candidate, husband, father and devout Muslim, is now the Mayor of London, and (as The Daily Beast put it) “the most powerful Muslim politician in the Western world.”

His victory over Zac Goldsmith, Khan’s opponent from the Conservative Party of Prime Minister David Cameron, is (or should be) an object lesson in the political risks of hate-mongering and character assassination — a risk that a certain billionaire attention addict and presidential candidate would do well to avoid from now until Nov. 8.

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In his Friday story in The Beast, Nico Hines documents some of the backstory of Khan’s rise to power:

“Claims that Khan could not be trusted to protect London’s 8.5 million inhabitants backfired spectacularly, with senior Conservatives admitting that the divisive campaign drove voters away from the party.

“Former Conservative chairwoman Sayeeda Warsi said her party’s strategy would cause lasting damage. ‘Our appalling dog whistle campaign for #LondonMayor2016 lost us the election, our reputation & credibility on issues of race and religion,’ she wrote on Twitter as the results came in. ...

“Khan, whose father became a bus driver when he moved to Britain from Pakistan, will command a $23 billion annual budget and oversee London’s policing, housing, and transport infrastructure.

“The 45-year-old former human-rights lawyer was elected as a Member of Parliament for Tooting in South London just 11 years ago but he rose quickly through the Labour ranks.”

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WHAT’S ESPECIALLY striking in Khan’s biography – and what probably gave the Conservative oppo researchers fits in London – is his relative ordinariness. No firebrand demonstrations in his past, no shadowy trips to a secret undisclosed location as a kid. From all indications, Khan’s was a life lived out loud, in public. He’s everyday people according to the U.K.

“We all have multiple identities,” Khan told Hines. “I’m a Londoner, I’m British, I’m English, I’m of Asian origin, of Pakistani heritage, I’m a dad, I’m a husband, I’m a long-suffering Liverpool fan.”

Those facts, and their certain duplicatability among millions of other Londoners and UK citizens of Muslim faith, fly in the face of the vilification strategy Cameron’s Conservatives sought to arouse in the hearts of Londoners who knew better.

That fact of living ordinary lives of quiet achievement puts to rout one of Trump’s few documented policy ideas: to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.

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One former Conservative candidate made the connection between us and our British counterparts perfectly clear by dropping the right name in exactly the right place.

“Shazia Awan, a former Conservative Party candidate, broke ranks ahead of Thursday’s vote to accuse her party of running a “racist” election campaign. She told The Daily Beast she was relieved by the result.

“I’ve voted Labour for the first time in my life and it is David Cameron’s and Zac Goldsmith’s vile racially charged rhetoric that has made me do so. We will not tolerate the vitriolic politics of hate,” she said. “We do not want the divisive campaign of Donald Trump in the U.K.”

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KHALID MAHMOOD, a Member of Parliament, agreed with Awan. “The people of London have spoken and I think that should be a lesson to all politicians who try to go down that route, because people are not prepared to take that.”

London! Here’s to you for understanding that, while we’re animated and enlightened by our faith, we’re not necessarily defined by it. Thanks for understanding that one’s religion isn’t the be-all and end-all of an identity.

Cheers for having the courage to take a step that, end of the day, needn’t be so courageous at all. Please, if you would, send as much of it to the United States as possible, soonest.

No worries. We’ll get it through Customs.

Image credits: Khan top: Eyevine via The Economist. Khan lower: The Mirror.

1 comment:

  1. Message to Mr Trump ( why I climbed your tower)


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