I’m sure we are all more than familiar by now with the online petition, signed by somewhere in the region of 570,000 people, calling for Donald Trump to be denied access to the UK—a direct response to his proposal that a blanket ban on all Muslims entering the US should be introduced.
While I have absolutely no sympathy for Mr Trump’s intellectually deficient rabble rousing, and, in fact, consider his views both heinous and tremendously misplaced (not to mention lacking in basic humanity), I do feel that this petition, however well-meaning, is ill-conceived, and believe it would be very dangerous to further introduce the barring of individuals based on ideological differences, however extreme (there are exceptions, of course, though this in my view doesn’t qualify).
Naturally, if there was evidence that Mr Trump presented a direct and significant threat to the lives of UK citizens, then by all means he should be barred from entry—but I do not believe this to be the case, and have heard no arguments to even suggest otherwise. Also, I would think it would set a difficult and potentially diplomatically harmful precedent to refuse entry when the likes of Mr Xi Jinping was not only allowed into our country, but also granted a State Visit.
To clarify, I in no way accept or endorse the views of Mr Trump. I find his recent comments, on this and other subjects, to be politically immature, despicable and an affront to civilised hearts and minds. Should he be allowed into the UK, I would like to see him debated with rationally and vehemently so that he and others would have no doubt just what those of us who oppose his views think of them, and, more to the point, why. But I think it is extremely important to avoid the steady morphing of our country into an intellectual/ideological “echo chamber”. This is something we are already beginning to see in our academic institutions, with individuals being barred from debating because their views are considered too extreme (something one might consider vital, if we are to take a dialectical view to problem-solving—which I do). Arguments such as those of Mr Trump, as frankly pathetic as they are, at least serve the purpose of allowing us to refine and practice our counterarguments: as deplorable as his utterances are, they are—or should be—a part of the process, the process which is essential to a democratic worldview.
©2016 Gary William Murning