Kent Messenger Column – 04-12-17
Last week I pledged my support to the 'NO2H8' campaign which does vital work in highlighting how social cohesion can reduce hatred. Little did I know that the importance of the campaign's core message would be demonstrated in such extraordinary fashion later that day.
I was horrified, but not all together surprised, to learn that Donald Trump had retweeted a handful of incendiary videos from a British far right, anti-Islam group. In doing so, he had given a platform to a repugnant, hate filled organisation who are inextricably linked to the tragic murder of my colleague Jo Cox.
The accusations made in the tweets were not just fictitious; they were also highly offensive and clearly created to sow hatred and division and to inspire fear.
However, the true impact of the President's early morning twitter habits are even more serious than that. For a man who is the supposed leader of the free world to endorse such horrendous content provides enormous legitimacy to the organisation and the vile, far right views which it represents.
Not only therefore do his actions demean him and his great office; they also threaten the hard won freedoms and values which underpin our liberal democracies.
In Maidstone and the Weald we have seen the effects of the attempted legitimisation of racial and religious hatred. The limp and shameful protest against the expansion of our excellent mosque displayed similar xenophobic and racist slurs as to those endorsed by the President.
Thankfully, here, we have seen our community unite to rebuke this abhorrence and demonstrate that the vast majority of people in Maidstone are respectful of the differences which make us so strong.
Now, more than ever, we need fair minded, decent communities, both locally and across the globe, to come together and stand up for our core values of equality, diversity and liberty.
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