While the ramifications of Donald Trump's Muslim ban continue to play out, one ought to pause and reflect again on how exactly the so-called 'civilised world' got here.
In the Trump regime, we have a government that has put unprecedented and radicalised Islamophobia at the front and centre of its policy agenda, and attached it so blatantly to the president's vague mandate to 'Make America Great Again'.
The obvious pun is that he's 'making America hate again'. But the reality is that the hate in question, most predominantly Islamophobia, has been bubbling away within Western democracies for decades.
In this sense Trump is like a volcanic eruption, spewing built up hatred like molten lava and emitting toxic fumes into the atmosphere – causing earthquakes with every unlettered, tempestuous Twitter rant.
You'd be forgiven for thinking Trump was a natural disaster, but, in truth, it's all much more choreographed and cultivated than some would care to imagine.
He's the culmination of forces that were unleashed, in their current Islamophobic configuration, on the day of September 11, 2001, when the US was attacked by al-Qaeda and decided that its reaction would be to flirt with acting as if Islam itself had declared war on Western civilisation.
We live in a supposedly 'trickle-down' world – where the filthy rich justify their filthy richness by pretending that their prosperity will somehow 'leak' down onto the unwashed masses of little people who make up the big society.
Where politicians, who are often also wealthy, nod along with this stuff, not believing a word, but going along with it regardless. Where even critical information about us and our lives, amassed and hoarded by elite institutions and unaccountable state apparatuses, must be 'leaked' down from above by whistleblowers who are immediately criminalised for breaking the 'Omerta' of the ruling classes.
We've entered what has been termed a 'post-truth' era. But one must understand that while 'post-truth' discourses have always been a feature of fascism and authoritarianism, in its current form, it has re-emerged so virulently due to the dominant culture of mainstream politics in the West.
For decades, the centre has spent so much time and energy waging war on reality to justify and gain consent for its own anti-democratic and, in the era of the 'War on Terror', often criminal excesses.
It's no surprise, then, that Islamophobia is the focus of fascism in the 21st century. For Islamophobia, as with anti-Semitism and every other form of racism that has preoccupied the West over the centuries, is something that relies on the absence of facts. It has in modern times been utilised and cultivated by the very top rungs of the social and political hierarchy – it has thus 'trickled-down' and formed a swamp of malice.
This is an observable and documented process, especially in the US, where under the Bush administration an Islamophobia industry started to be cultivated – influencing everyone from legislators to the security forces.
In President Trump and his white supremacist advisors, this Islamophobic malice has found its perfect vehicle. Trump has even tapped into the resources of the Islamophobia industry, most notably the nationalist website Breitbart.
One of the peculiarities of the internet age is the arena of the comments section that one finds under articles in news websites. These are invariably the domain of trolls and opinionated, gloriously ignorant bigots.
Whenever, for example, a news website has an article that deals with almost any subject dealing with Islam, it is with great trepidation that one scrolls down the unfailingly Islamophobic comments section. It's even worse when the article in question is one, so familiar in the post-9/11 era, deliberately designed to inflame Islamophobia. Donald Trump is, in this respect, the political equivalent of the comment section eating the article.
If the Trump regime is made up of idiots, it's simply coincidental to the fact that they are very deliberately attempting to elevate Islamophobia from the gutter press and dinner tables of America up to the heights of state policy.
Respectable Islamophobes might disagree with Trump's Muslim ban for its crudeness, and such disagreement is far from meaningless, but we must understand how Islamophobia has become part of the essence of Western politics – how it has become normalised within so very many Western societies.
This will entail respectable Islamophobes having an existential moment and coming to terms with their own Islamophobia, recognising it as one ingredient of the repellent primaeval soup of irrational hatred from which Donald Trump and his Muslim ban emerged.
In the same manner as Trump's rise in the US, the triumph of Brexit in the UK was intrinsically linked with both Islamophobia and the mode of post-truthism. The Leave campaign took several measures to ensure that the not-so-subtle racism that fuels anti-EU narratives in the UK was taken to sinisterly stupefying new Islamophobic heights.
The EU provided no plausible 'Islamic threat' in its current set up, so the Leavers decided to construct an entirely fatuous one by claiming that Turkey was on the verge of joining the EU, paving the way for 70 million Muslim Turks having access to the UK. Combined with this was the sordidly false, fascistic propaganda campaign linking Muslim Syrian refugees with continued EU membership.
It's no wonder then that during the EU referendum the fascist Tommy Mair decided to murder the MP Jo Cox, who was leading attempts in parliament to lobby the government to take in more Syrian refugees. Taking his cue from the vacuous slogan of the Brexiteers, Tommy was just 'taking back control' from those 'traitors' who would pollute Britain with Muslims. After the referendum, others followed suit, unleashing an unprecedented wave of hate crimes across the UK.
Of course, none of this ought to obscure the fact that the British government, like many governments in the West, has already made its own views on these matters clear by shirking its responsibility to take in Syrian refugees in the first place. And this is precisely the point – when the government, run by Tory centrists, says that it won't take in Muslim refugees, described by then prime minister David Cameron as a 'swarm', what message 'trickles down' from this? In the US, Barack Obama similarly refused to take in more than a token and paltry number of refugees.
It's the same process as Islamophobia in the post-9/11 era in general – the centre, often unwittingly, paves the way for the extremists through the 'mainstream' racism that shapes its policies. In this respect, Trump's Muslim ban is a radicalisation of the status quo when it comes to the way the West has reacted to the so-called 'refugee crisis' and in terms of the Islamophobia that informs such a reaction.
When Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, used the entirely fictitious Bowling Green massacre, allegedly carried out by Muslim refugees, to justify the Muslim ban, one ought not to think that it was simply a slip of the tongue by an overzealous bigot. Conway was speaking in the spirit of Julius Streicher – he who was hanged at Nuremberg for using what these days would be called 'fake news' concerning the evil nature of Jews to manufacture consent for their eventual annihilation.
But, more crucially, she was simply reflecting in a hyperreal sense the conduct of large sections of the mainstream media. The newspapers and TV stations that have since 9/11 depicted Muslims in a wholly unfavourable and menacing light, often inventing stories designed to inflame and manufacture hatred, are outlets owned by respectable businessmen that mainstream politicians pathetically fawn over.
Conway's reference to the non-existent Bowling Green massacre might have prompted hilarity across the globe, but this was the 21st-century blood libel being used against Muslims by the government of the world's greatest power. It ought to send a shiver down the spine of the status quo, but the status quo is itself part of the problem.
Islamophobic conspiracy theories have come to dominate every part of the political spectrum. While David Cameron was so spuriously claiming that the Muslim mayor of London Sadiq Khan had links to an Isis supporter, the allegedly left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was standing on the podium in parliament claiming that Syrian rebels were akin to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
This is just the overt part of it – we have the Islamophobia that fuels the Orwellian 'Prevent' programme and that allows the government to shape policy on the nonsensical idea that British Muslims are refusing to integrate.
The result of mainstream cultivation of Islamophobia is Trump, Le Pen, Wilders, Orban and the rest. By the time the West began to come to terms with its own anti-Semitism, it was too late. Six million Jews had been industrially murdered.
It's not hyperbole to see the beginnings of the same slide into potentially monstrous territory. This cannot be allowed to happen again. If we are to defeat Islamophobic fascism, there must be a revolution among Western societies in the way that they conceive of Muslims. To defeat Trump, the centre must recognise the part of itself that birthed him.
Sam Hamad is a Scottish-Egyptian writer based in Edinburgh. He specialises in Middle Eastern affairs.