It’s far easier to criticise events on the US-Mexico border than to admit the UK government’s shameful behaviour
Over the past few days, as condemnation has rained down on Donald Trump for ripping toddlers from the arms of their immigrant parents, my thoughts have turned to a small, scared boy far closer to home. Five thousand miles separate the Texas-Mexico border from Folkestone in Kent, where Bashir Khan Ahmadzai sleeps in a child-sized bed underneath a calendar that is two years out of date. However dire, his situation will not draw the TV anchors or be commemorated by a Getty photographer. Yet the more I turn over his story, the more troubled I am not just for him, but for what it says about our politics and our media.
To scream at the barbarian in the White House, to denounce Italy’s thuggish deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, to shudder at Hungary’s leader, Viktor Orbán: such acts come easily to decent politicians and pundits. And so they should, because each of these men normalises a racist brutalism. Yet to stop there is merely to play liberal pantomime. The harder, but just as essential, task is to look away from the TV screens and headlines and spot signs of the same casual racist brutalism at home, in our political system, in a case such as that of Ahmadzai.