As President Trump prepares for his first official state visit to Great Britain, London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan slammed the president in a blistering editorial published by The Guardian.
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While Trump has visited the United Kingdom before while president, his earlier trip to our closest ally was classified as a “working” visit without all the regal trappings of an official “state” visit.
This time, with Britain being in the midst of one of the worst political crises in its history as the chaotic debate over Brexit has brought down Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump will arrive in a country as divided as he’s made his own, torn apart by some of the same Russian-bot influenced political forces that powered his own ascendance to the presidency,
It is in this tumultuous atmosphere that the London mayor argues forcefully that, as he titles his editorial, “It’s un-British to roll out the red carpet for Donald Trump.”
Khan points to a litany of horrific words and deeds attributable to Trump in labeling the American president “one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat” — the far right populist movement that is not only dividing American politics but threatening the peace and unity of countries around the world including the European Union that is already being weakened by the presumed departure of the United Kingdom.
Comparing this new far-right movement to the deadly fascist regimes of the mid-20th century, Mayor Khan warns that Trump and his ilk — including Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Matteo Salvini in Italy, Marine Le Pen in France and Nigel Farage in the UK — are “threatening our hard-won rights and freedoms and the values that have defined our liberal, democratic societies for more than seventy years.”
It is this threat that Khan cites in his assertion that it would be uncharacteristic for Britain to welcome Trump with open arms at this juncture in history.
“That’s why it’s so un-British to be rolling out the red carpet this week for a formal state visit for a president whose divisive behaviour flies in the face of the ideals America was founded upon – equality, liberty and religious freedom,” Mayor Khan writes.
The mayor poses some tough questions for those conservative Britons who favor rejecting ideals and taking a purely practical and self-interested approach to appeasing the American president.
“There are some who argue that we should hold our noses and stomach the spectacle of honouring Trump in this fashion – including many Conservative politicians. They say we need to be realists and stroke his ego to maintain our economic and military relationship with the US. But at what point should we stop appeasing – and implicitly condoning – his far-right policies and views? Where do we draw the line?” Khan asks.
He also prescribes taking a brave stand against a traditional ally gone astray.
“Rather than bestowing Trump with a grand platform of acceptability to the world, we should be speaking out and saying that this behaviour is unacceptable – and that it poses a grave threat to the values and principles we have fought hard to defend – often together – for decades,” Mayor Khan admonishes the British state.
Khan makes sure to disavow any accusations of anti-Americanism sure to be lodged against the Muslim mayor by U.S. conservatives who support Trump.
“I am proud of our historic special relationship, which I’m certain will survive long after President Trump leaves office. The US is a country I love and have visited on many occasions. I still greatly admire the culture, the people and the principles articulated by the founding fathers. But America is like a best friend, and with a best friend you have a responsibility to be direct and honest when you believe they are making a mistake,” he writes.
The Mayor ends his op-ed with an admission that it may be too late to stop the pomp and circumstance of a state visit. However, he concludes with a concrete suggestion on how his country’s lame-duck Prime Minister can salvage some dignity from Trump’s visit and why that it is so important that she does.
“It’s too late to stop the red-carpet treatment, but it’s not too late for the prime minister to do the right thing. Theresa May should issue a powerful rejection – not of the US as a country or the office of the presidency, but of Trump and the far-right agenda he embodies. She should say that the citizens of the UK and the US agree on many things, but that Trump’s views are incompatible with British values.”
“History teaches us of the danger of being afraid to speak truth to power and the risk of failing to defend our values from the rise of the far right. At this challenging time in global politics, it’s more important than ever that we remember that lesson.”
If only America had a president as dedicated to protecting American values as London Mayor Sadiq Khan is to protecting those same common values for the citizens of the United Kingdom.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.