Sadiq Khan and Trump: Why KKK Donald’s values are Unacceptable

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The charismatic young mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is calling out Donald Trump for his bigotry toward Muslims. He says he plans to visit the United States this fall before the presidential election, because in case Trump wins, he won’t be able to.

He had told Time magazine earlier,

“If Donald Trump becomes the president I’ll be stopped from going there by virtue of my faith, which means I can’t engage with American mayors and swap ideas.”

Trump responded that he might make an exception for Sadiq Khan: “There will always be exceptions,” he said.

For those apparently ethically clueless commentators who have averred that Trump “isn’t really a bigot,” Trump’s conundrum shows that he really is a bigot. Since he likes giving people nicknames, I’ve suggested one for him above. As many have pointed out, the KKK is far more enthusiastic about Trump than the Republican Party Establishment. There is a reason for this difference.

It is always ethically wrong to generalize from an individual or particular group to the larger category of which they form a part. Individuals must be judged as individuals, groups as groups.

The typical form of a bigoted statement is “All x are y.”

Bigotry or prejudice can then become a basis for discrimination. Discrimination violates the principle of equality before the law:

“It is generally agreed that discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin is morally wrong and a violation of the principle of equality. The equality principle requires that those who are equal be treated equally based on similarities, and that race not be a relevant consideration in that assess – ment (May and Sharratt 1994: 317). In other words, it is only possible to justify treating people differently if there exists some factual difference between them that justifies such difference in treatment (Rachels 1999: 94). Equality is a nonspecific term that means nothing until applied to a particular context. Thus, in a political context, equality means equal access to public office and equal treatment under the law, and equal treatment extends to equality in terms of job hiring, promotion, and pay.”

Trump’s proposal to exclude Muslims from coming to the United States violates the 1965 Immigration Act, which does not allow for religious or other quotas. More seriously, it violates the principle that all men are created equal, a central one to American ideals even if it has often been honored in the breach. Trump’s premise, that Muslims are unusually violent, is not in fact in evidence.

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, for instance, began by forbidding all Chinese from coming to the US for ten years; that “temporary” exclusion was later made permanent, and it was only finally repealed during World War II (even then the almost Nazi 1924 immigration law, which established ethnic/country quotas based on the “white” America of the 1870 census, continued to keep all but small numbers of Chinese out).

Here is the sort of thing that Americans of European heritage were saying about Americans of Chinese heritage in the run-up to the Exclusion Act. I apologize to my Chinese-American friends for reprinting it, but alas we historians often have to deal with distasteful texts from the past. It is from testimony before the California senate in 1876. The senators asked a lot of leading question implying that Chinese are less honest than other people; one witness to his credit pushed back on that front, but then went on to aver that “they are not a cleanly people.”

“Q.—How does the condition of the Chinese in this city compare with that of the Chinese at home?

A.—I have been very little in the Chinese quarters here, but I know it is filthy, indeed, and that they are very much overcrowded. They live in a filthy condition here, and in a filthy condition at home, in their own districts. The buildings here are crowded pretty much as they are at home. Buildings once occupied by Chinese are unfit for white occupation, but real estate dealers obtain from them double and treble the rent they receive from the whites. The streets —the business streets—are in a passable condition, probably because the Chinese are compelled to keep them clean by the municipal authorities. The alleys are terribly filthy. Ladies would not care to go on those streets or look into those alleys. I think there is a class of outlaws among the Chinese population here, who give us a great deal of trouble. There are also, as in every community, a great many good men who are made to suffer for the doings of the evil. Among our people, if John Brown does wrong, he suffers as an individual, but if a Chinaman does wrong, the whole race suffers for the act of the individual.

Q.—Are there any Chinese families in this city?

A.—I think not any to speak of?

Q.—Are there one hundred Chinese families in this city?

A.—That would be a large number, I should think.

Q.—Have you any idea of the number of Chinese women?

A.—No, sir; I have not.

Q.—What is the condition of these women?

A.—I don’t know. I imagine it is very bad, indeed. I think that the principal or only remedy to be applied to that evil are stringent municipal regulations, thoroughly enforced.

Q.—That would be a remedy for those things, but would it be a remedy for the injuries which that race inflicts upon the race with which they compete?

A.—1 think that would prevent the influx of the vicious class. If we were to make them live as Americans, I think we would very soon have no Chinese here. For instance, make men have fifteen or sixteen-feet rooms to sleep in, each, and compel the observance of sanitary regulations, and they could not afford to work for the wages they now receive. If they are forced to demand more pay, employers will not employ them.

Mr. Pierson—Have you observed any change in the character of the Chinese for the last ten or fifteen years—have they become more aggressive, more independent, more apt to assert their rights, as they term it?

A.—I think that is caused by the fact that a great many misguided Americans put them up to it.

Q.—Do you think that they have any particular love for our institutions?

A.—I don’t think they have any at all. They come purely as a matter of gain—as a matter of dollars and cents.”

Trump’s discourse is indistinguishable from that of 19th century “white” racists and religious bigots in the United States, and he wants to have it result in a similar outcome (all Asians were ultimately excluded from the US on grounds of racial and religious bigotry).

Trump, having proposed an exception to equality under the law for a whole category of people, now has to propose exceptions to his own rule because it clearly is a discriminatory one. He said that you lead by example and if Khan does a good job that would be a tremendous thing.

That Trump should even want to make an exception for Sadiq Khan underlines the falsity of his entire premise. If Mr. Khan can lead by example and do a good job as London mayor despite being Muslim, then clearly there are no grounds to exclude people on grounds of religion. If Mr. Khan as an individual is desirable despite being a Muslim, then how can Trump show that the vast majority of Muslims are not like Mr. Khan? And if they are, then his proposed exclusion is a form of bigotry.


Related video:

Wochit News: “Trump Says London Mayor Would Be Exception to Muslim Ban”

24 Responses

  1. klywilen

    Trump doesn’t have any KKK values. The only values he has are in the profit and loss columns of his balance sheets.

  2. Too much talk about the messenger, Donald Trump, hardly any talk about the message: us. Nobody seems to pick on Chomsky, whose message may not be too different from Trump’s, save the language.

    • There is no “us” under Trump. The word “equality” never escapes his lips. Chomsky never threatens those labeled “weak” because he believes that strength does not justify inequality between people or between societies.

  3. It is human nature to trust your own kind. Jared Diamond pointed out in primitive societies it is very difficult to trust outsiders. Modern civilization has developed because we have found ways to trust outsiders and not to be so quick to judge a group by an individual or an individual by a group. Trump is an intelligent man, but he is appealing to ignorance–Mexicans and Muslims are not responsible for all of America’s problems, but by making them scapegoats it is comforting not only to the poor and powerless, but also to the rich and powerful who can thus deflect blame for their own greedy manipulations. America and western civilization have much to gain by being open to more of the world and what it has to offer. There is a risk that some outsiders may do us harm, but there is also a risk that we are harming ourselves by being close minded.

    • making them scapegoats it is comforting not only to the poor and powerless, but also to the rich and powerful. This hits the nail because whatever one likes to call it, the notion of what is or is not proper, acceptable, to do or say is essentially a middle class contribution, always has been, and it is the decline of the middle class that opens the door to the Trumps of the US and other Western nations.

    • Primitive societies are ones that are so tiny that you know everyone else in them. So outsiders are strangers.
      The problem is, the economic and military advantages of building bigger societies required forcing them to become too big to hold together merely with personal relationships. This required conformity, stereotyping, prejudice, and authority. But all of that implies that we are living a lie; our emotional bonds to those we know are systematically hijacked into loyalty to our fellow mass-produced cultural clones, who are still strangers. It was only a matter of time before the accumulation and escalation of lies would lead to condemnation of entire continents of people due to their skin color, and the conversion of slavery from local happenstance to global exploitation and war. Hitlerism is still the logical end game of this cynical utilitarianism, the violent conversion of all outsiders into your own wealth, not some Aryan Nations separatist enclave fantasy based on the myth of autarky.

  4. What I don’t get is that you can invade and bomb a Muslim country (Iraq) on false pretenses (WMD’s) and there’s barely a whimper. But threaten to ban Muslims from entering your country and there’s howls of protests

    • The latter is in contravention the constitution, and therefore is legally dubious. The former is probably more morally repugnant, but apparently is not in contravention of the constitution.

  5. It is always ethically wrong to generalize from an individual or particular group to the larger category of which they form a part. Individuals must be judged as individuals, groups as groups.

    This is not surprising in Trump’s case after his opening remarks about Mexicans and the need to build a wall followed by exclusion of Muslims. These are examples of his shallow thinking (if thinking is the right word) by looking at the symptoms of the alleged disease and not its causes. Trump is apparently oblivious to the roles, especially regime changes, the United States has played in creating those migrants and refugees.

  6. When my mom and dad got engaged, Dad’s commanders sent him to the US envoy to Okinawa to try to talk him out of it because in 1963 the official line was still that mixed marriages were frowned upon. Today, no one would think twice about a Caucasian and a Japanese getting married and producing offspring. How is America a worse country for this?

    With attitudes like yours, mixed-race persons like myself wouldn’t even exist. With attitudes like yours in power, mixed-race persons like myself are stateless non-persons.
    Justify that, my new self-declared existential threat.

    • With attitudes like yours, mixed-race persons like myself wouldn’t even exist. With attitudes like yours in power, mixed-race persons like myself are stateless non-persons.

      First of all, I’ve said nothing about my attitude towards mixed race marriages, except to indicate, as a peripheral matter to the main point, that people who prefer to live amongst their own kind are not necessarily motivated by all the nastiness that the left routinely attributes to them. Second, even if that were my attitude and even if as a result of that attitude having prevailed the situation would have been different in the past so that you wouldn’t exist now, so what? Without intending any particular disrespect to you, no doubt the world would manage as well without you as it would without me if my parents hadn’t ever met. Third, I’ve been discussing the problems of mass immigration, not in any sense advocating “statelessness” for mixed race children.

      As is usual for those arguing against the advocates of controlling mass immigration, you attribute extreme positions to the latter, and then, shocked, declare them extremists.

  7. Trump is apparently oblivious to the roles, especially regime changes, the United States has played in creating those migrants and refugees.

    Rather an ironic charge, that one, as one of the reasons Trump is persona non grata with much of the Republican establishment is his shocking (to them) refusal to pretend that Bush II’s catastrophic blunder and crime in Iraq was something other than what it was.

    As a Brit, for me his likely decisive break from the bipartisan “invade the world, invite the world” US elite consensus is Trump’s USP. There is no other US political figure with the remotest chance at winning a Republican or Democrat nomination (I assume here that Sanders has no realistic chance to beat Clinton) who is not firmly committed to either the aggressive “humanitarian” interventionism of the US left elite or the equally aggressive “US-uber-alles” interventionism of the right elite.

    For many working class Americans, less concerned with foreign affairs, his appeal is more likely his equally dramatic likely break from the globalist/open borders/”free trade” dogma that benefits both the big business and liberal political elites.

  8. This bigoted and deceitful person-of-wealth, Donald Trump, is what corporate-controlled media wants us to believe we should elect as our next President.

    Corporate-owned and controlled media is projecting a very demeaning and destructive opinion for MOST American citizens by installing Trump. This projection is UNTRUE and an INSULT.

    We are a nation of immigrants – not xenophobic, racist clowns.

    To foist an ego-maniacal, unhinged real estate manipulator and media pseudo-personality as presidential material is an insult to EVERYONE no matter their origin, race, creed or hue.

    How embarrassing for our country!

    • No one is foisting Trump on the US, rather he is being elevated by a pissed off population; the candidates who have fallen by the wayside were the foisted ones. If we see Sanders facing off with Trump I’ll wager Sanders to win. Clinton and Trump, however, would see my wallet back in my pocket.

    • “This bigoted and deceitful person-of-wealth, Donald Trump, is what corporate-controlled media wants us to believe we should elect as our next President.”

      I beg to differ. I challenge you to name one major newspaper or media outlet (other than perhaps Fox) that has endorsed Trump. I have not seen one endorse him, but I have seen many question his lack of knowledge and policy prescriptions.

      Please name major media outlets that you have seen endorse trump for President.

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