This blog originally appeared in the Independent.
More than 500,000 people have signed a petition to have Donald Trump banned from the UK. Not because of anything he has done but because of what he has said. And next week, Parliament will debate the issue. But the petition and the debate are a huge mistake. In fact, even though I’ve lived in the UK for nearly sixteen years, I feel proud to be an American every time I hear Donald Trump speak.
I feel proud when he implies that Mexican immigrants are often rapists. Not all. Just some. Some of them are nice people. And rapists. But nice. Nice rapists.
I feel proud when he says that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed in the United States because they might support Isis. An exception will likely be made for any Muslims who enjoy golfing, since he has a golf course in Dubai.
I feel proud when he complains that in spite of global warming he should be allowed aerosol hairspray. Studies did show his singular use was causing damage to the ozone layer.
The list can go on. But it doesn’t matter what he says. The swell of pride I feel is the same.
Because while I don’t agree with any of the bullshit he says, and I do think he’s saying things that are racist and do believe he is a self-obsessed megalomaniac who is a disaster for America, I feel proud because in America he is allowed to speak.
I live in a country now where I don’t have the same freedom Donald Trump does. I live in a place where if I say something deemed hateful or offensive, I could go to jail or be sued. I live in the repressive thought control regime known as Great Britain.
Don’t get me wrong - I think Trump is truly bad news. His way of saying things is funny, disarming and he sugar-coats his insults in a way that means many people (and the media) are bewitched. He should be watched, listened to, answered and defeated - but not gagged.
By allowing Trump’s hate, stupidity and vitriol to be spoken aloud, we can combat it. And there was no better answer to his screaming madness then the silent protest of the tremendously brave Muslim American woman who simply stood at his rally. That protest, more than anything else, showed how the Trumpster has no clothes. Even if he does have suits manufactured with his name on them.
The only way to stop him is not to ban him from coming to the UK, not to have a whole day of debate about him. It’s much better to let him to spill his bile and then. Just. Ignore. Him. Starve him. Turn the energy complaining about him in to action. Every time he suggests banning Muslims, don’t start a petition to have him censored - donate to a refugee charity. Or go to a comedy night. Something meaningful.
You can’t defeat Trump by defeating freedom of speech.
The BNP is no longer as strong as it once was in the UK because it was allowed to exist. Once people saw its leadership in the open, saw their policies and the way they behaved, it lost its power.
Trump keeps saying he wants to make America great again. But it’s too late. It’s great already. Great for putting up with him. So while I’m not proud of Trump, I am proud of that.