British PM Cameron’s tiff with Trump over Muslims: The Hypocrisy Factor

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

When Donald Trump announced his monstrous and yet daffy plan to exlude Muslims from the United States (what with being, himself, both monstrous and yet daffy), British Prime Minister David Cameron called him out. The plan, he said, is “divisive, stupid and wrong.”

Trump gave an interview with Piers Morgan on British TV on Monday in which he threatened the United Kingdom with retaliation.

“It looks like we’re not going to have a very good relationship. Who knows, I hope to have a good relationship with him but it sounds like he’s not willing to address the problem either . . . Number one, I’m not stupid, okay? I can tell you that right now. Just the opposite. Number two, in terms of divisive, I don’t think I’m a divisive person, I’m a unifier, unlike our president now, I’m a unifier.”

Thereby proving that Cameron was right on all three counts. The prime minister’s office said he stood by his remarks. (Good on him!)

But what shouldn’t be lost in all this is that Cameron himself hasn’t exactly been good on Muslim issues in the UK. He’s been supercilious, condescending, and tone deaf. And he’s made some stupid and divisive proposals, as well.

Britain has a population of about 64 million. Of those, about 3.1 million are Muslims, about 5 percent of the population. In 2015, 13 Muslims were elected to the British parliament, six of them women, and three of them in Cameron’s party.

The US has more Muslims, but is a much bigger country, so their percentage here is much smaller, about 1% or maybe more depending on how many exactly there are (no one knows– the estimates range from 3 to 6 million).

Obviously, Trump’s discourse about Muslims is a much bigger thing in the UK, where the proportion of Muslims is similar to the proportion of Asian-Americans in the US.

Cameron wants to Muslims who don’t learn English well enough to pass a test within 2 and a half years of arrival. Asked if he would split up families by, e.g., sending out a mother of children and wife resident with her husband, he said there could be no guarantee of staying if the person kept failing the English test.

This proposal is just about as objectionable as Trump’s own ideas. There are millions of people in the US who don’t have very good English, or any at all. If Trump had threatened to arrest and deport them and break up families, even if they were legal immigrants, wouldn’t that be as outrageous as some of the other things he has said?

Cameron maintained that the reason for which a few tens of thousands of recently immigrated Muslim women did not know English was because their husbands are backward and controlling and keeping them isolated. That they might be busy raising children and running households and that they might not have avenues into British society– or even that they might not be good at languages– doesn’t seem to have occurred to him.

Then there was Home Minister Theresa May’s daffy allegation that there there was a sophisticated Salafi plot to take over 21 Birmingham schools in poor, disproportionately Muslim, areas. It was based on what is now widely considered a fraudulent letter. An investigation didn’t find any such plot. It found some problems at five of the schools, not surprising given that they are in extremely disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Cameron and his cabinet were so enthusiastic about Netanyahu’s brutal assault on defenseless little Gaza in 2014 that his only Muslim cabinet member, Lady Sayeeda Warsi, felt she had no choice but to resign.

So the idea of Cameron as a defender of Western Muslims or a condemner of Islamophobia is downright weird.

What the exchange shows is that the paternalistic, paranoid and casually insulting discourse of the Cameron crew about Muslims has been overshadowed by the truly monstrous and daffy Trump.

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Related video:

New York Daily News: “Donald Trump to David Cameron: I’m not stupid, ok?”

12 Responses

  1. The game is, corporatists like Cameron only want adequate treatment for those groups that make themselves of use to capitalism. So they are now willing to protect gay rights but still want the cops to butcher “unproductive” Blacks now and then for the sin of threatening their property. Right-wing populists like Trump demand all minority groups accept blatant lower caste status or be ethnically cleansed.

  2. Sir John Salmond

    . that’s the real problem with Trump -moves whole conversation sharply to the cruel, racist, counterproductive end of the spectrum

  3. The biggest “hypocrisy factor”, (hypocrisy meaning: partial, incomplete, half-truth critic), whether Cameron’s or most critics of Donald Trump, is their failure to acknowledge that Trump, as well as Bernie Sanders, has distance himself from some contemporaneous policies of the State of Israel; that is an outstanding, unique political public announcement in American.
    That’s news.
    The elephant-in-the –room’s hypocriticals, go ballistic on every aspect of Trump’s antics, possibly as a means to convince themselves that they are observant, virtuous.

  4. Trump is the “populist” and “straight-talking” politician, while Cameron is the “sophisticated” and “serious” politician. But in many respects, if you disregard image and focus on policy, they really are two sides of the same coin.

  5. “Number one, I’m not stupid, okay? I can tell you that right now. Just the opposite.”

    If he says so, I guess it must be true.

  6. People love to denounce bigotry and stupid ideas when they see it in someone else, but when they do it, it’s a balanced and fair approach to the problem.

  7. “NEL” nailed it. Trump’s racism, like Cameron’s, is crude. But the attacks against Trump (but not Cameron) is due to Trump’s having broken the taboos on revealing the genocides by Israel in Palestine and by Bush/Obama/Cameron against Muslim nations.

  8. Too many people in this world –and most of them want to be with “their own kind.” It’s a natural instinct. Messes up the political program, though.
    One reason adult immigrants might have trouble learning english is that the older we get the less flexible our brains and for some, especially those with less developed language learning portions of the brain, it’s a major, and often useless, effort to learn a new language. We’ve all seen kids who naturally take to learning how to work a tablet, but older folks have trouble doing that same thing.
    Subtleties are beyond the comprehension of some….and often, I fear, deliberately so.

  9. Trump’s daffiness is what makes him a spectacle. But we should not consider his monstrosity a great departure from our accustomed norm. This country will never, in all its future history, be able to adequately repent for its destruction of Iraq, which was a bipartisan monstrosity of epic proportions. On the Democratic side, let us remember, we have a candidate who, serving as Secretary of State, cackled loudly and made a rather psychotic joke when she heard that Qaddafi had been barbarically killed. She apparently thinks destabilizing Arab countries and handing them over to legions of extremists is a laugh! So let us not allow the spectacle to delude us into thinking we’ve somehow behaved in a civilized way up to this point. Trump is us.

  10. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) has always been a serious problem in the male offspring of the Trump generation. (And through no fault of their own.)

    Vastly improved detection methods and treatments are urgently needed to prevent another one from attaining high public office.

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