title. The "Right" Side of Politics
name. Bardha Llumnica
right now. Second year studying English Literature at the University of Edinburgh
Current favourite writer. Sylvia Plath
This article reflects on the past year and the radical shift in politics exposing the West and its radicalism.
On November 8th 2016, the world saw a shocking victory for a man that led a campaign of hatred and discrimination. The term shocking must be used with caution, for Donald Trump’s victory was simply the last phase in showcasing the changing nature of politics; the West is moving further to the right of the political spectrum in its attempt to maintain supremacy. Abraham Lincoln once said ‘America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedom, it will be because we destroyed ourselves’. These words have become prominent as we mark the end of 2016: a year that has seen the Presidential victory of Donald Trump, the UK’s exit from the European Union and a large increase in fear as the threat of terror continues to be on the rise. And fundamentally we must ask are we losing the integrity and tolerance that characterises our nations? Indeed, are the rising voices of those that have been marginalised for centuries becoming a threat to the traditional white male supremacy who are fighting to maintain authority that is being lost?
American Novelist, Toni Morrison, argued ‘a number of white Americans are sacrificing themselves’ to retain power and in doing so, ‘these white Americans tuck their heads under cone-shaped hats and American flags and deny themselves the dignity of face-to-face confrontations, training their guns on the unarmed, the innocent, the scared, on subjects who are running away, exposing their unthreatening backs to bullets.’ It is this violence and extreme patriotism that is drawing a division that has never been more real and distinct within the twenty-first century. As Michel Foucault determines ‘where there is power, there is resistance’; what we are seeing are citizens fighting to change the status quo of power and now they are beginning to face a resistance from the traditional ruling classes who are struggling to keep the status quo. Undoubtedly, this has caused tensions and divisions within our own nations and unfortunately, this has been a year where hatred has triumphed. It is an overly used term, however, this is the truth. Instead of standing by change and recognising that inequalities between gender, class, race and religion are issues that still need addressing, citizens are making ‘sacrifices’ in fear of losing their authority and status. With terrorism on the rise, there has been a general belief that there should be unity to fight against such extremist views. Attacks in the West, in particular France and Germany, have shown the real dangers and consequences of terrorist activities. Ironically, however, due to the anxieties and vulnerability felt of American and European citizens, these people are willing to adhere to their own discriminatory and hatred views to demonstrate some sort of strength. In our vulnerable state, it is not the fact that Trump will be the President for a globally influential nation, or that Brexit will occur causing tensions within the European Union, it is the views that the victory party campaigned for, that is problematic. From Nigel Farage’s campaign against immigrants to Trump’s campaign against foreigners and immigrants devaluing the “greatness of America”, these campaigns have taken the cultural debates to new extremes. They are allowing for citizens to believe that such hatred views are in fact acceptable, when in reality they are not. And whilst it can be said the majority do not comply with these views, violence and tensions are clearly on the rise. Statistics highlight that after the Presidential elections and the aftermath of Brexit, hate crimes were on the rise: The Independent revealed that hate crimes rose to 41 per cent in Britain and The New York Times revealed that attacks on American Muslims surged six per cent higher than previous years, with a total of 5,818 hate crimes reported.
The old cliché goes ‘do not fight fire with fire’ yet we are backlashing against what is originally a backlash; the East is fighting against the supremacy of the West or what is termed as ‘Americanisation’ and now we are responding with the same attitude. Hua Hsu writes in The New Yorker about normalisation and argues ‘what we think as normal shapes our field of vision; it tells a story of the world and its possibilities. Racism, sexism, and the other hatreds and phobias lately on display didn't become normalised this year. They’ve always been normal — for some of us.’ Yet, we must recognise that this cultural debate and this normalisation of hatred views has outreached its depth and the problems go beyond the nationalistic and patriotic views that Trump and far right wingers are presenting. We must remember that there are thousands that are suffering daily as a consequence to conflict. Statistics show that there are 3.2 million Iraqis that were forced to flee their homes because of hostility and civil wars. Thus, we must recognise the duty that we have in helping those that are in danger of no fault of their own. We must recognise that beyond borders, power, race, and religion, we are all humans on one rock. There must be unity amongst nations to help eliminate extremists attitudes but this cannot be achieved with discrimination and blame. Instead of going further towards the right side of politics, we should be fighting for what is right and just. It is clear we are seeing faults in our own system that cherishes itself for its liberalism. But with the loss of tolerance, can we continue to recognise ourselves as the truest form of liberal thought?
History highlights some of the best moments in humanity where citizens united for what is right. From the French Revolution that fought for ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’, to the Suffragette Movement who fought for equal rights between genders and the Civil Rights Movement who fought for racial equality, we have now entered an era that is fighting for identity: to retain the cultural and national identity that we socially construct. And although some might deem this a reasonable fight, what happened to fighting with dignity, morality and rights for all? This conflict almost endangers the equality and freedom of every person amongst all nations as divisions are still continuing. Hence, we have entered a period that everyone must understand and participate to reduce conflict. Education is key and people must become au fait with what is truly happening in our societies, within our nations and on a global scale, and truly understand the problems that have arisen in 2016. And whilst its tempting to dismiss what is happening and hope everything will turn out for the best, Dickens’ novels is a true reminder that there are ‘Hard Times - For These Times’.