Right wing, anti-immigrant politics have entered the realm of political legitimacy. And it is this realm of political legitimacy which restricts the effect of a ‘no platform policy’. It is too late to ignore and push out this type of politics; instead we must confront these opinions on the political front as one unit. No platforming a legitimised politician does nothing but give that politician fuel to feed their campaigns and room to grow into.
Along with the rise of Donald Trump we have had attempts in Britain to block his entrance into the country, to block his attempts to speak. In essence to delegitimize his presence. However the anti establishment aims of Donald Trump, along with so many other anti-establishment leaders, feed and fester on this opportunity. It must be understood that Trump’s appeal to many is that he presents himself as a victim of society, alongside any other American who feels victimized by the apparent influx of refugees or who feels alienated by the present governmental system. It is too late to delegitimize his presence.
In fact Trump’s entire politically ambitious rhetoric is about removing himself from the crowd, about leading a campaign, completely independent of other businesses and individuals. He has been able to twist his position as the richest candidate in history to suggest the individuality and independence of his ideas. Although it is now clear that he is not completely funding his campaign, he readily comments on how the other candidates become little more than puppets to the people who are supporting them. In December 2015 he rejected funding from the Republican Jewish Coalition, exclaiming that he didn’t want their money and “did they know the money I have turned down”. Supposedly in contrast to himself he highlighted Jeb Bush and the fact that he raised ‘$125 million [through donations], which means he is controlled totally […] by the people who gave him the money’. Decisions to limit Trump’s access to countries and so on play into his hands, his objective is to be seen as the victim. And more importantly, the victim who is as far away from being a politician as is possible. In the same speech in December, Trump commented that politicians ‘generally aren’t competent and the one thing they are good at is getting elected’. In no sense of the word does Trump want to be seen as a politician. Rather he would be seen as a radical, daring revolutionary. Banning him from a university campus or even a country would effectively hand this title to him.
A more influential way of opposing him would be to let him put forward his warped political ambitions. Firstly this would place him in the same group with other politicians, he would not have the revolutionary collar he wears now. Secondly it would enable us to argue his propositions down, to push him into an embarrassing and revealing corner which would reduce his reputation to a smouldering pile of nothingness.
The same goes for any other politician or figurehead who has crossed the line which distinguishes politically fragile and laughable charter from supported and tragically legitimate political figurehead. Once there is a movement in place a safe space policy does not dilute their influence. Rather it does the opposite. Look at Nigel Farage. Deliberately distancing himself from other politicians through the way he sits, through his method of meeting enthusiastic followers in the local pubs, he relishes at the prospect of a safe space policy. It enables him to complain, to make a fuss and not only does this increase his air time, but it also draws anyone who may be disillusioned with the current political framework towards him.
The safe space policy is however a huge benefit to our society in many ways. Take Roosh V, who advocates legalizing rape so that “a girl will protect her body in the same manner that she protects her purse and smartphone”. His opinions and statements are vile and horrific, his following across the world is however minute. He is by no means a serious political or social figure. His reputation is non existent and thus a safe space policy and a means of shutting down his attempts to have meetings are necessary and effective.
The safe space policy is a very effective way of shutting down certain dangerous groups of people who hold abhorrent and disgraceful views which are not wanted or welcome. However an attempt to use the safe space policy every time a controversial figure comes into play actually restricts our ability to combat the controversial and dangerous opinions which have gathered support. Rather than pushing a problem like Donald Trump to one side, we should be fighting his every claim. Rather than simply ignoring him, we should contest his ideas on the political stage, make it clear that his opinions are not revolutionary or new, rather dangerous and brutal.