Happy New Year! After the Electoral College’s December vindication of Trump’s November election last year, it’s now pretty much over bar the shouting.
All my USian friends are so-called “liberals” and have deplored the election of Trump. I can see their point, but I also tried to bring some balance to the equation by pointing out The Rest of the World’s perspective:
- Trump is against the TTIP and TPPA, which has already won him some brownie points in other countries
- Trump doesn’t want to start WWIII with Russia
- Clinton has promised nuclear war with both Russia and Iran
- There have been other racists and sexists in the White House and the world hasn’t come to an end
I took what I considered to be a rather bland approach and was quite taken aback when I received this:
[T]hat is the biggest load of absolute bullshit I have ever read this side of a wacky conspiracy theory site, which is where you seem to be getting your information.
The first thing that took me by surprise was the anger. The accusation itself was also interesting, so let’s take that one first.
Which “wacky conspiracy site” did I use for my opinion? The Washington Times?
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton tempered her support for President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran by pledging Wednesday that, if elected, she would back it up with the threat of military action [against Iran].
The fact is, the President of the United States cannot unilaterally declare war on another country, though of course they can do it through the back door of “military advisors”, “training camps”, and so on. But if I take Clinton’s statement (not an opinion, not an interpretation, but her actual words):
As president, I will take whatever action is necessary to protect the U.S. and its allies. I will not hesitate to take military action
and am alarmed as a result, then I’m spouting bullshit? Or what about this from one of her August speeches via the wacky conspiracy theory site, The Washington Post:
Just yesterday, one of Britain’s most prominent right-wing leaders, a man named Nigel Farage, who stoked anti-immigrant sentiments to win the referendum to have Britain leave the European Union, campaigned with Donald Trump in Mississippi.
Farage has called for a bar on the children of legal immigrants from public schools and health services, has said women are and I quote “worth less” than men, and supports scrapping laws that prevent employers from discriminating based on race — that’s who Donald Trump wants by his side when he is addressing an audience of American voters.
And the grand godfather of this global brand of extreme nationalism is Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Seriously, how did Putin get shoehorned in there? As Foreign Policy magazine (no doubt another “wacky conspiracy site”) has commented:
The nation Clinton described was unrecognizable to its citizens. Anti-woman? Putin’s government provides working mothers with three years of subsidized family leave. Intolerant? The president personally attended the opening of Moscow’s great mosque. Racist? Putin often touts Russia’s ethnic diversity. To Russians, it appeared that Clinton was straining to fabricate a rationale for hostilities…[while] the Kremlin has long contended that a Cold War II is impossible. That’s because, while there may be differences over, say, the fate of Donetsk, there is no longer a fundamental ideological struggle dividing East and West. To Russian ears, Clinton seemed determined in her speech to provide this missing ingredient for bipolar enmity, painting Moscow as the vanguard for racism, intolerance, and misogyny around the globe.
If my takeaway point from this is that the Russians don’t want a fight but Clinton does, then I’m spouting “absolute bullshit”?
MSNBC quotes Clinton in October 2016 as saying:
“I personally would be advocating now for a no-fly zone [in Syria] and humanitarian corridors to try to stop the carnage on the ground and from the air…”
When Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (and, no doubt, an ignorant webmaster of a wacky conspiracy theory site when he’s out of his uniform), pointed out that “[t]he enforcement of a ‘no-fly’ zone in Syria would mean a US war with both Syria and Russia” (see this video and start at 0:56), did Clinton back down? The answer is no, in case you were wondering.
Retired senior US military pilots are increasingly alarmed that Hillary Clinton’s proposal for “no-fly zones” in Syria could lead to a military confrontation with Russia that could escalate to levels that were previously unthinkable in the post-cold war world
… John Kuehn, a retired navy officer who flew no-fly zone missions over Bosnia and Iraq…[and] now a professor of military history at the US Army Command and General Staff College [so obviously some kind of racist mouth-breather]…[said] “I see almost nothing positive that can come from implementing [a no-fly zone] at the current time over Syria. Conversely, the potential to make a bad situation worse is very, very high”
So says The Guardian, but since when does a mainstream newspaper and several former military strategists know anything next to my friend’s unshakeable conviction that anyone calling Clinton a warmonger is a liar and a dupe?
Let’s move on to the TTIP (Europe minus Russia) and TPPA (Asia minus China). Considering that it has been legal since 2012 to use propaganda on US residents, I doubt my USian friends know much about the “trade agreements” I mentioned, but it’s a fact that they have been deeply unpopular in Germany, Malaysia, Spain, France, Hamburg, Berlin, Madrid, Ljubljana, Helsinki, London, Vienna, Paris and so on. Donald Trump spoke out against the TPPA back in 2015 and it was Clinton who was the champion (along with Barack Obama) of the TTIP, but I’m only getting that from conspiracy sites CNN and Reuters, so what do I know?
And so, here I am. Because someone I know refuses to read or analyse a candidate’s actual words or read newspapers, I’m tarred as an ultra-right conspiracy theorist. That part doesn’t worry me. I’ve been called so many names in my life, it’s become a bit of a joke. Furthermore, I figure if I get called contradicting names, it must mean I’m touching a nerve, which is always a nice thing for a writer to realise.
What does bother me is something more intrinsic.
Resistance to analysis.
Where does this idea come from that the person I like may not be 100% wonderful but the person I dislike is definitely 100% villain? Liberals aren’t known to be stupid people, so why does there not appear to be any higher-order thinking going on? When I wrote that email to my friend, I was expecting a reply along the lines of:
“Well you see, Hillary has a lot of experience running the White House. She was a very active and proactive First Lady during Bill’s tenure as President. She came up with that universal healthcare plan, remember?, while Trump has already said he’s going to repeal the Affordable Care Act. What a disaster! Then, she was Secretary of State, so she wasn’t just some bimbo living it high on the hog. She dealt with dozens of other heads of states and represented foreign policy for the world’s only superpower. I doubt Trump knows much about Europe beyond the yacht harbour at Monaco!”
I don’t fully agree with that position, but that’s what I was expecting. But it wasn’t what I got. Why not? In monitoring a number of tweets and opinion pieces, I think it boils down to this: people don’t like Donald Trump. Is that sufficient information on which to base a credible picture of an incoming President? Actually, the answer is no. Do I have evidence for this? Oh, absolutely.
Richard Nixon. “Tricky Dick” was never going to make it to the White House Popularity Hall of Fame. He was smart, but he was ugly. A bit too intelligent, a bit too cunning. I’ve read pieces on how he was ocassionally bombed out of his skull and threatened to nuke Vietnam late one night when he was off his rocker. Needless to say, I wouldn’t name a child after him. Yet… The United States wouldn’t have an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) without him. He supported the withdrawal of US soldiers from Vietnam and then did what he said. Just examine the steady number of military withdrawals during his tenure. He initiated rapproachement with China. He wrote the Clean Air Act and created the Department of Natural Resources. He was pro-women and included sex discrimination lawsuits as part of (not separate to) the Civil Rights Act.
Bill Clinton. Good-looking (and we all know how that matters in US politics), with effortless charm and a million-dollar smile, it seemed Bill Clinton could do no wrong. Yet he dismantled the Glass-Steagall Act, an action that led directly to the 2008 financial collapse. He had no respect for women. He was responsible for the debacle in the Balkans. When it came to demonisation, Clinton never hesitated: Milosevic, Saddam. And let’s not forget Rwanda. Protecting innocent civilians…except when you can’t be bothered. (And, on a related note, who except the United States considers the United States the world’s policeman?)
The basic cognitive dissonance here is attempting to marry the policies of a given person with his/her outward personality. And it displays an alarming childishness on the part of American voters. Everything is emotional–“Is this person my hero?”–when the actual question should be, “What kind of policy decisions will this person make?”
Now that you’ve called the man a brainless ego-driven orange-skinned misogynistic racist with a small dick, where do you go?
Let’s pretend I’m a US citizen. If I had decided to vote for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton at the DNC ballots, it was because I thought that Sanders would be more partial to the kind of policies that I favoured. Did it matter that he is a Jew? A male? Or that Clinton is a gentile? And female? Absolutely not. Yet the hysteria over Trump remains very personal and very disturbing. I don’t know of any other country that would devolve to the kind of distasteful comments (often labelled as “humour”) that so-called “liberals” have been displaying over the past year. And support for such “humour” tells me much more about political discourse and emotional maturity in the United States than it does the actual platforms of the contenders…you know, the things that should actually matter.
With all this in mind, I think the people of the United States must realise that in the shadow of the 2016 presidential election, their country has turned into a third-world nation. Opinions, skits, essays based on the colour of one’s skin (orange)? The size of one’s penis (small)? Bad impersonations and fake statues appearing in public places (naked, of course)? Are we talking about the citizens of the world’s superpower here or a nation of shallow, giggling pre-schoolers?
To be sure, this is not the first time such tactics have been used. We’re well used to Anglo insults about Napoleon’s short stature as a precursor to his megalomania (noting, at the same time, that he did a damned sight more for European jurisprudence than Horatio Nelson ever did for England’s), and Hitler’s single testicle as the catalyst for…well, we’re not told, but rest assured the lack of a little orb led directly to the carnage of a small continent. Such virulence can be understood at least during a time of war. But within the one nation against their own citizen during a benign election cycle? Before the man has even done a single thing in the office he’s aspiring to? It seems not to have occurred to anyone that, in the faint chance Trump won the election, personal statements about him cannot be walked back. Now that you’ve called the man a brainless ego-driven orange-skinned misogynistic racist with a small dick, where do you go? More importantly, how do you look to the rest of the world? The fact that there seemed to be no brake on this minority mobthink from what is laughingly referred to as “the left” in US politics shows at once the arrogance and ignorance of those who consider themselves the more intellectual strata of American society…as well as their stupidity in painting themselves into so obvious a corner.
Pulling all that together, the name-calling, the utter refusal to analyse a candidate’s words, and virulent personal attacks masquerading as viable political comment, it occurs to me that The Rest of the World doesn’t need to take down the United States. It seems it’s successfully made itself irrelevant–and repugnant–all by itself.
POSTSCRIPT: And Barack Obama lowers himself to the occasion with his latest actions. Personally, I agree with him that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is a loathsome excuse for a human being, and it’s well known that the two men personally dislike each other, but the USA abstaining from a United Nations vote on condemning illegal Israeli settlements during the last four weeks of the Obama presidency is the move of a moral vacuum. If Obama really was presidential material, why didn’t he take a stand during his two terms, rather than at the lame duck end? After all, only four months before, he’d signed one of the largest military aid deals between the United States and Israel amounting to US$38 billion. And anybody who’s analysed Israel’s finances even briefly knows that the small nation is essentially a failed state without the constant prop of US aid. Under those circumstances, it doesn’t take much for a larger nation-state to live up to its so-called principles; but waiting for the last month to poke a stick in the bully’s eye illustrates what a small and petty move was made by the ultimate representative of the world’s only superpower, a habit that unfortunately seems to have devolved to its citizenry over the past eight years.
Copyright 2017, KS Augustin
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