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Demonisation is a dangerous path

Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001
Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001

The most terrifying and potentially dangerous part of Donald Trump is that, undeniably, he is a politician who delivers.

Most of us feel hurt and frustrated by his recent political move against the refugees from many Muslim countries.

This controversial action fundamentally goes against many people’s notions of human rights, compassion and equality, yet we were all aware that this was his intention from the beginning of his campaign.

To most of Trump’s supporters, however, he has restored a sense of nationalism and security to those Americans who feel isolated, forgotten and deprived.

This, and a pride in one’s country, is not in itself a bad thing. On the contrary, perhaps.

It is the manipulation of people’s love for their country by politicians trying to encourage a political agenda and ideology that is dangerous.

There is often a hazy misconception between pride in one’s own culture and homeland, and the rejection and exclusion of others.

For example, in Germany in the 1930s, there was a significant rise in anti-Semitic views encouraged by the Nazi Party, leading to the isolation of a particular minority group.

Now, in no way do I think it is justifiable to make a direct comparison between the actions of Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler, as the Holocaust was an event of such incomparable atrocity and scale, however, as Churchill said, ‘all men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from them’.

These previous experiences teach us that the demonisation and persecution of any minority group, encouraging division between people, is not a path that can lead to prosperity for either party.

The rise of Islamophobia and discrimination against immigrants in recent years bears an uncomfortable sense of familiarity.

Donald Trump states that ‘From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first’.

For many, these words echo a much-needed sense of hope and solidarity in a nation that is struggling to find a balance between their belief in a strong national identity, and the increasing need to become a part of a global community.

The contrast between the people who enjoy financial security and opportunities in America, and those who do not, is increasingly visible.

Many of Trump’s followers would argue that he symbolises an opportunity to breach this growing gap of inequality and to re-establish a sense of American pride. There is now, however, a conflict between traditional and modern values.

I think this struggle, in particular, is reflected in the recent shift to a more right-wing political society – and not just in America, but also in Russia, France and the UK.

‘If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere.’ Despite Theresa May’s belief, I would argue that, in a world overwhelmed by an abundance of information and advances in technology, it becomes increasingly difficult to feel disconnected from the struggle of the people around us.

They may be on the other side of the world, but they are people, just like us.

-- Jess Ginns is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds


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