Nigel Farage is a Trumpamentalist—that is to say he’s a Donald Trump supporter who will defend America’s ostensible 45th president to his last breath. Following the implementation of Trump’s controversial Executive Order rohibiting the entry of peoples into America from seven Muslim-majority countries including Syria, Iraq and Yemen, Farage unsurprisingly rallied to Trump’s defense.
In response to the global backlash against the so-called Muslim ban, Farage echoed a common sentiment of the acolytes of Trumpamentalism: he labeled the ban’s opponents “hypocrites.” To Farage and many like-minded Trumpkins, it is hypocritical so many are appalled by the travel ban—of Trump ‘advisor’ Steve Bannon’s design—while saying nothing of the ban in 16 Muslim-majority countries of Israeli citizens, or of the fact President Obama introduced tougher immigration measures singling out Iraqi citizens in his first term.
There are a couple of things wrong with Farage’s argument. First of all, facts are twisted. The Obama administration tightened the vetting procedure for Iraqis in 2011 but no full ban ever actually occurred. Iraqi refugees continued to arrive in America. The Israeli ban Farage speaks of is based not on religion but nationality. Warping his argument to better imply a religiously-motivated order, Farage called it a “Jewish-Israeli” ban. It is Israeli nationals being targeted by the aforementioned countries, owing to the decades of political turmoil between those states; people of the Jewish faith from any other country are still allowed to enter. Compare this to Bannon’s travel ban, which prohibits entry from seven Muslim-majority countries but makes exceptions for Christians.
Secondly: hypocrisy—or rather perceived hypocrisy—does not discount the possibility President Bannon’s Muslim ban might just be racist and dangerous. Obama’s Iraqi ban never actually happened. Even if it had, would it make it OK for Bannon to do the same? That’s not something you’ll find Farage and the Trumpamentalists getting into. Is it conducive to peace and goodwill that those 16 Muslim countries cited by Farage bar Israelis? No. But in this particular debate, what does that matter?
It might sound callous but consider what the debate here is actually about. It’s not about bans in place in other countries. It’s about the US travel ban and whether or not it is A Good Thing. It is a favorite tactic of the right today to muddy the waters as a way of distracting from the discussion at hand altogether. They cherry-pick truths and untruths alike, and cry “hypocrisy” until the people on the other side of the argument either get bored or forget the original point and back down.
Farage has barely even addressed how he feels about the Muslim ban. Instead, he deploys rightwing’s favorite current tactic: obfuscation. Obfuscation signals someone who does not wish to even have a debate. Someone who is prepared to bend the truth and go on tangents simply so they don’t have to discuss the failings of their own side is a black hole of conversation, always ready to attack but never prepared to reflect. These people will never respond to reason and you will never, ever change their minds. You’ve probably come across a lot of them lately, whether on social media, in the news or even in real life.
Engaging with the hardline Trump supporter is, to put it bluntly, a waste of time. You can reel off facts and remind them that they may well be victims of a sophisticated cyberwarfare campaign, but it won’t change anything. It can be maddening, disturbing, disheartening—all emotions this contemporary band of the right feeds on. They enjoy the argument and, when alternative facts are winning victories for the likes of both Trump and Farage, they’re emboldened in their peddling of falsehoods and assured they can never be wrong. It’s a post-truth world, and some people are happily thriving in this Wild West of information and misinformation.
You have to remind yourself: this is not all Americans. It’s not even all Trump voters. Those trolls and ‘alt-right’ SJWs making up the Trumpamentalists, so vocal now because they think Trump’s win validates their own hatred for American society, are a minority within the Trump base. Many of those who voted for Trump are working people casting a vote for someone radical in the hope that might allow for change. A number of them already regret their decision to vote Trump. The Trumpamentalists, irretrievably comfortable with the falsehoods fueling their anger and latent white male supremacist tendencies, getting off watching snowflakes agonize over Steve Bannon’s American carnage, are a minority within a minority.
To watch them rejoice in the chaos is beyond frustrating. We have to remind ourselves we are in greater company than they. I personally have to remind myself articles like this one don’t matter to such people and that that’s OK. It’s OK because, despite the panic right now over how the post-truth climate twists so much, there is still a rational majority seeking truth and valuing fairness. At this time, we must allow ourselves the luxury of some comfort where we find it: the Trumpamentalists may make a hell of a lot of noise, but the majority voted against Trump and now march in the streets en masse.
In a recent article, I argued we should forget labels and, backed by experts and popular opinion, form a sane opposition—neither ‘left’ nor ‘right’ nor ‘moderate’—to the Trump administration. Naturally, the Trumpamentalists piled on to deride the ‘fake news’ and ‘hypocrisy’ of the piece. It proved, to me anyway, there may be no bridging the divide between people like us and the hardliners. No matter. Their guy is still a popular vote loser (3 million more votes for Hillary Clinton, 10 million more altogether) and he reached majority disapproval in record time. 40% of voters, after two weeks, already support impeaching Trump. A majority want Obama back in the White House. We don’t need to waste time convincing the self-deceiving, gloating Trumpamentalists we’re right—we can take comfort in the fact the majority is already with us.