The new mayor did not have a privileged start in life. He was one of eight children born to Pakistani immigrants, a bus driver and a seamstress, on a south London housing estate. From an early age, he showed a firm resolves to defy the odds in order to win success for himself and the causes important to him (BBC). (Photo: Abdulai Mansaray, author)
The victory of Sadiq may be seen as a relatively small matter in the world of politics. However, the implications of this victory can have significant implications from a worldly point of view; especially across the pond in the USA. In the run up to the elections, Londoners were treated to a buffet of fear; scare mongering and blatant smear campaigns by the party opposite. It is not surprising that in his victory speech, Khan said that his victory was a rejection of the politics of “fear”. You would be tempted to tempt fate at this point, but are there any similarities to learn from?
Across the pond in the USA, Donald Trump, the presumptive Nominee for the Republican Presidential election has been doing his best to instill the same “fear” on the unsuspecting American populace. Since he professed his undying love for the American people and his prophetic vocation to “make America great again”, Trump has been drip feeding the electorate on a diet of paranoia. His politics has been clearly centred on harvesting the inner “fears” of some Americans; “fears” that you can only hear around dinner tables, supermarket aisles and areas with confederate persuasion. As if to buttress this, Mario Cuomo, the former governor of New York and perpetual presidential hopeful of liberal democrats said that, “In politics, you campaign in poetry and govern in prose.” In America, politicians very often campaign on fear. And when that fear is stoked to irrational levels, it has a clinical name – paranoia”.
Trumps mode of politics is reflective of America’s politics of paranoia, which has been ever present from the McCarthy era, right down to fears of Freemasons and the Illuminati taking control of the government. The issue of “fear” is no stranger to many who have followed the American silk road of politics. No one can forget the George Bush government, which was solidly grounded in its ability to instil fear in the people. We know that politicians induce fear to eliminate thinking, intuition; and by so doing make the electorate submissive and easily controllable: Unlike his predecessor, Obama instilled the belief in hope. So when America voted its first black president, not once but twice, there was renewed hope for the universality of mankind. With Trump on the political soap box, there is a latent fear, even within his Republican party, that he threatens to send America to the doldrums of the back of beyond.
Among other outrageous and incendiary comments that he has made, he called “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” Speaking on MSNBC, he said that “there are areas of London that are so radicalized, police fear for their lives;” “They have sections in Paris that are radicalized, where the police refuse to go there. They’re petrified. The police refuse to go in there.” David Cameron described his comments as “divisive and unhelpful”. Ironically, the same conservative group conducted its mayoral campaign according to the gospel of Saint Trump; the creation of mistrust in the community.
Of course, the concept of fear is not new to some of us. When George Bush embarked on his “mission accomplished” agendas of war on terror and regime change, there were many schools of thought which believed that his efforts would be recruiting sergeants for terrorists. The world is facing a different but similar kind of enemy today, in the erroneously named group called “Islamic” state (nothing Islamic about it). The cultures of fear, division, mistrust, etc. are all ingredients that play in the hands of terrorists. For us to succumb to the concept of fear is tantamount to acceptance of terrorism; for that is exactly what they want.
So where does Sadiq’s victory in little London sit with world politics? Many will see this as a message and statement of intent to the terrorists, who want to embark on sowing the seeds of distrust, division, suspicion to dismantle our communities along religious lines. Unfortunately, some politicians and parts of the media tried to follow the gospel according to St. Trump, in linking Sadiq; sorry Mayor Sadiq to extremists; his crime? He is a Muslim. Others would see this as London’s way of standing up to the extremists, and that Londoners have shown that they are too politically mature to fall for that age old trick. It is true that you can fool some people some of the time, but all the people all of the time? Hmmmmmm.
As for Donald Trump and our favourite cousins across the pond, could this be a time for sobering thoughts? Is there anything that can be learnt from the London experience? Could this be seen as a call to all Muslims to stop sitting on the side lines and fully participate in fighting this worldly scourge that has been perpetuated in the name of Islam? Is this Londoners’ way of sticking up two fingers to the Donald? A lot of fanfare has greeted the victory of mayor Sadiq. The tragedy is that the media coverage has focused more on his religion than his other attributes. You may be forgiven to think that his first name is “Muslim”. It still feels like the right wing red rags have not got the clear message that Londoners have sent.
So while Obama’s regime has been focused on building bridges, Donald Trump is promising to build walls along racial, social and religious lines. This is clearly a recipe for disaster. While Obama is busy reconstructing the world community by bringing countries like Iran and Cuba back into the fold, Donald Trump is planning to keep his Mexican cousins and Arab contractors locked out. George Bush waged a war in Iraq, on the premise of non-existent nuclear weapons. Obama dismantled an existing arsenal of nuclear weapons in Iran without a single shot fired. Obama achieved these, among others feats on the concept of hope. Trump is peddling his message to his supporters that are already constipated with fear. Many would think that Trump is preaching hatred, but no, he is not. He is preaching “fear”, and fear is the enemy.
He has used fear to keep his followers worried about the future. There is no illusion greater than fear; for fear can make a moth seem the size of a bull elephant. Overcoming what frightens you the most strengthens you the most.” Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out. That is exactly what Londoners have done in this election; overcome fear. Don’t think about sharks when you are walking on water.
Don’t forget to turn the lights off when you leave the room.