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“Make sure your paradigms are true to principles.” Stephen R Covey

A doozy of an example, this week.

Not that long ago, Republican Party Presidential hopeful Donald Trump made a speech. Following that speech the media had a field day, and thousands of people signed a petition to bar him from entering the UK on the basis of what the media had reported. The media had reported that Trump had expressed a desire to ban Muslims from entering America. That was the headline, that was the repeated mantra, that was what most people heard.

But that isn’t what he said. Or, to be more accurate, that is not ALL that he said. The press missed out the bit before that, thus deliberately (I suspect) erasing the context, and then also omitted to mention the next bit, thus deliberately ignoring the qualifier.

What he said was, and I am paraphrasing so you can ignore me if you want, was that there were people out there who hate America (Al Qaeda, ISIL being two pretty confident examples), and  Americans don’t know why that is and need to find out; that SOME people who hate the USA are entering the country with malicious intent (true, or at least reasonably expected); and that the immigration system currently run by the US government was in chaos and was not fit to ensure that those who had malicious intent could be distinguished from genuine refugees/immigrants (up for debate but many commentators agree).

The bit After the reported ‘stop Muslims from entering the country’ comment was ‘until we can sort out the (bit before the comment)’. In other words, he was proposing a bar on Muslims entering the USA until their government had in place a system for better assessing who was coming for what reason – good, or bad.

That’s the press for you – as fair and unbiased as any Liverpool FC fan.

But I can’t help wondering if there’d been as much ire in 1939 when we declared war on Germany, and in 1941 when Japan attacked the USA and the Far East.

There was a quite legitimate feeling that it might be prudent to stop German and Japanese immigration and to further protect the countries by putting their nationals in camps. Now I’m not proposing the latter by any means, but given there is no reasonable certainty that ISIL AREN’T coming in as refugees, or that they are ONLY coming from one country, why not prevent terrorist atrocity by pausing immigration while figuring out how to best prevent that? How you pause it and what you do while paused is then the legitimate follow up question.

Unfortunately, as the new theatre of war is not drawn by national borders but by the abuse of an international religion, nor fought on battlefields between combatants but in the streets and against civilians, the nationality test can’t be used any more. Security can’t just be served by declaring a country ‘persona non grata’.

At least in WWII the enemy wore uniforms, invaded in bulk and (generally!) complied with the Geneva Convention.

(Blue touch paper lit, now stand well back…….)

So why this Covey quote? It suggests that the first thing you ought to do when you see or hear something from a third party is to make sure that what you are seeing/hearing is, in fact, true – completely, not partially – and not a false paradigm, whether or not well meant. To research further until the truth is fully known.

Then, if you still feel Donald is not a good person, at least that feeling is based on a full assessment and not the blind faith that vested interests want you to apply.

That way you won’t be led by the nose by someone whose only interest in you – is your uninformed support in serving their interest.