By Tony Morrison, our US Correspondent!
June 3rd 2019
It was very surprising for all us Americans to hear that a state visit to the UK is being planned this week for someone who is an out and out racist, hated throughout the world, and who has seriously divided his nation beyond any possible redemption. Why is the UK doing this for Jeremy Corbyn we wondered? Do they do state visits for their own citizens?
But no, it seems the state visit is for our own President. And here is where it gets weird. President Trump is many things, but he is assuredly not a racist. This is the guy who last year worked to pass legislation (Criminal Justice Act) pardoning thousands of African Americans from prison sentences handed out due to draconian laws passed by a previous Democrat administration. He is admired in many countries, maybe not so much as a human being, but as a disruptor for the policies that deliberately seek to disadvantage a country’s citizens at the expense of the “world.” He and his initiatives that put the American workforce first, such as driving unemployment down to the lowest in 50 years, have been a model for many leaders and countries from Brazil to the UK to India and to Australia.
Disruptors always cause some divisions, but Trump’s administration has been remarkable for the fact that most of the hate and scorn has come from the other side. As soon as Trump was elected cue the massive women’s march, assorted protests, and Antifa violence. Much of this has died down now, of course, strangled under its own weight. For example, the ubiquitous “pussy hats” of the women’s march have disappeared down the memory hole after the suburban white women supporting the march realized that pink was not the most appropriate symbol of diversity (brown pussy hats never took off) and that some women had penises – hey, don’t look at me, I’m just reporting the facts.
Not to be outdone, many in the Washington elites, in concert with the Media and the Democrat party, pushed the nonsense that Trump was elected due to him conspiring with Russian nefarious naughtiness.
This fiction was exposed by both Congressional testimony and the publication of the Mueller Report. But the gang refuses to accept any and all evidence and the wackiest among them have now progressed to calling for impeachment. And with the Democrats taking the House in 2018, they have signalled they will only oppose Trump so there will be no more bi-partisan legislation such as the Criminal Justice Reform Act.
Trump does certainly contribute to the divisiveness, but it is usually only by counter-punching. He rarely seeks a fight, but he revels in them and uses Twitter often to end them. Unfortunately for the systems we have to run the country, he also sometimes pushes executive powers to the limit to get around the obstruction to his plans. He sees no alternative when the Democrat House has refused to work on any of his initiatives (see the previous paragraph). Which might explain the current use of tariffs and sanctions as his all-purpose hammer. Chinese trade malpractice? – tariffs! Canada doesn’t like our milk and cheese? – tariffs! Democrats won’t pass immigration legislation to clean up the southern border horrors – tariffs on Mexico! (hang on, something wrong with that last one). Onerous Trump sanctions still apply to North Korea (give them up when it de-nuclearizes), Iran (because it’s Iran), Russia (sanctions??? Putin needs to ask for his money back!!!).
The folks in the UK wishing to protest Trump this week are very similar to the type of folks protesting in the US for the last two years. Even though they are composed of many different groups, all seem linked by the fact they are mostly white, mostly upper middle class, carry the same perpetually nasty sneer on their faces (think Emily Thornberry clocking a white van on her street) and are seemingly unable to muster any logical coherent statements. It is hard to extract the patterns from the crazy quilt of demands and moans, but if you look closely you can see some emerge – Trump is a fascist, he treats “migrants” (for those unused to virtual signal speak, this means illegal immigrants) badly, he walked away from the Paris Climate Accord, he is rolling back women’s reproductive rights, i.e., abortion.
Once you get rid of the blatantly silly first statement, this is very small beer for a world used to massive acts of terrorism, widespread abuses of human rights and some ongoing hideous wars. 100,000 people every month are streaming into the USA over the Mexican border because they know if they turn up with children they will be released into the country due to the ridiculous immigration laws (and court verdicts). Trump as executive wants to stop this, as do most Americans. The Paris Climate Accord is a piece of nonsense that no signatory wishes to enforce. As with many other global initiatives of this ilk, the US presence was required only to dole out money to the rest of the world for dodgy projects. The US is well out of that.
The last one is the most puzzling. Trump is for restrictions on abortions, but so are most folks in the US. Polls show a majority favour abortion, but that the approval is limited to abortions in the first trimester and for rape, incest, and health of the mother (basically close to Trump’s position). The protestors seem to be pointing to states like Alabama and Georgia that have recently approved very restrictive laws governing abortions, and maybe Trump is behind it. But if they want to demonstrate in favour of less restrictive abortion laws then they are wasting their energy on Trump. Northern Ireland has more restrictive laws than any of the US states, and it’s your country folks!
Strangely, these “local “abortion protests do not seem to generate the same enthusiasm or crowds. It’s as if the Trump stuff is really not about abortion at all.
Only one organization among the hundreds has been able to present an actual reason for their opposition. The Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament shook off the cobwebs that have lain over it since the 1960s, and boldly exclaimed they would be joining the mass legions against Trump for his “nuclear brinkmanship.” I believe this is a reference to his engaging in diplomatic talks with North Korea and Russia to cycle down their nuke programs. “We can’t have any of that there disarming,” say the CND, as otherwise, they would be even more irrelevant.
But no matter the details as to the why for the protest. The anti-Trumpers, UK branch, are so fired up that they have decided to put it all on the line this week, so dire is the orange menace. It is time yet again for the biggest, baddest most powerful weapon in their entire arsenal – a modest sized balloon. We in the US are partial to giant balloons, what with the Macy’s Day parade every Thanksgiving!
We fly them high; we fly them often. However, the proposed balloon is in our eyes, well, to be kind, not all that. It can’t be flown higher than 15 feet or so in London and is a rather small and silly looking Trump caricature as a baby.
They had to raise 30,000 pounds for this. A sum that could be better spent on something real aimed at changing the world for the better, as opposed to say petulant whining.
It is, of course, sad to see attempts, no matter how silly, made to draw a rift in one of the oldest and most resilient alliances in the world today. The last US President, Obama, tried his hardest by actually insulting the Brits in his last official visit by saying they would have to be at the end of the queue for a trade deal if they left the EU. The Brits were fine with the insult and just brushed it off; no anger, and there were no demonstrations against him, not even a small balloon with funny hats and party favours. Trump has been even worse as he has made it clear he sees the UK future tied to the US. He has offered an immediate free trade deal with the US as soon as the UK actually consummates Brexit. Cue the outrage.
It’s as if Trump is deliberately trying to ruin the alliance by offering friendship and economic help!
Looking on the bright side, protests and demonstrations are good for democracy. Both the US and the UK have taken some hits here recently, and so maybe they are both in a mood for a celebration of the freedoms provided by democracy. In the US an attempt was made to overthrow Trump’s legitimate election by pretending Putin organized it. And in the UK, of course, a legitimate referendum vote has yet to be acted upon. And the UK can further bask in the glow that comes from folks protesting a head of state on a state visit.
After all, the Brits have a great track record for showing the real bastards what they really think of them when they swanked around in London on their state visits – President Mugabe (killed landowners; ruined Zimbabwe economy, slaughtered thousands of his opponents), President Xi Jinping of China (put 1 million Muslims in concentration camps for re-education), King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (treats women as second-class citizens, imprisons gays and routinely crucifies, beheads and lashes the population)
Oh sorry, silly me, I didn’t mean the guys that only a few brave souls turned out to protest, I meant Bush.