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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

A Sign of All Times

Republicans
Why was it called Obamacare again?

Doesn't American government suddenly feel dangerous? I was reading an Esquire review about season five of House of Cards in which the writer noted the danger: Populated at its highest levels by men unashamed to hide their motives, their many ethical compromises, and their unquestionable lust for more power.

It will make watching the political soap opera no longer entirely feel like the stuff of fantasy. These morally bankrupt monsters who haunt the US political system could possibly be just as bad as they're depicted in the award winning Netflix series.

But who's really in charge of governing the United States? It's a question asked in a recent Atlantic piece where it's suggested that official Washington, especially its Republican elements, is telling itself a comforting story about the Trump administration. This story is being told to international counterparts as well, to assure them America will not be taking the world to the brink of a final war because Trump is surrounded by a great advisors.

Even having to make such assurances about the present situation, however, ought to be deeply worrying. Surely, we must have known when President Donald Trump stumbled into the quagmire of political complexity there would be comparisons made with the proverbial bull in a china shop? Through the first two months of this administration, we saw this pattern play out with regard to NATO, the bromance with Putin, the Middle East and immigration policy, and many other areas.

The joke that Trump's greatest achievement in his first 100 days as president was to make it to his 101st is no longer funny. The guy is here for the long term. The world has to deal with it. Americans and the world will have to live under excruciating uncertainty as they ponder whether the president is to be believed or not as his words and actions often contradict each other.

But I guess that's what you get when America, so incensed with racism, would vote in anyone the opposite of a black man to top office. I guess that's what you get when you vote in an anachronism who would grab women by the pussy. And when asked, Trump's unrepentant supporters would still have voted for him, and would vote for him again.

The saying that people get the government they deserve is an apt one, and I would give zero fucks as to who Americans choose, if it were not for the unfortunate fact that Trump's actions have repercussions for the entire planet. If we could just keep this as a "white man" issue, or just let America and North Korea bomb each other out of existence without affecting the rest of us, then I would be happy to let them get on with it, while watching from a safe distance.

Putin and Trump
Trump and Putin "working together" for a Syria ceasefire

To see a nation, I was enamoured with as a kid, learn nothing from having a guy like Obama in office because of the refusal to see past the colour of his skin has made me feel that I can no longer care what happens to America. If there was any way to allow the nation to nuke itself and anyone crazy enough to get in its face along with it, without it harming the United Kingdom or Europe or any other country trying to hold on to some semblance of sanity, then I would say go for it. You're taking up valuable space anyway.

The point is, though, that we cannot detach ourselves. We are all in the same boat. What infects America is finding its way to our shores: In a sign of how quickly European politics has moved, senior diplomats in the British embassy in Paris had to hold intense discussions about whether British officials could ever have a meeting with extreme right-wing members of the French Front National.

But much more directly, Trump's actions will affect our lives whether we like it or not, whether we have a vote or say on it is neither here nor there. Once again a white majority population has dictated the shape our lives must take. And what a joke it must be that we need two rogue leaders like Trump and Putin to protect sort out a third rogue in Syria.

The great tragedy in all of this is the plight of the Syrian refugees; they have become a commodity for politicians and human traffickers to abuse. Do any of us really comprehend what it must be like for people to be forcefully uprooted from their homes, to be raped, sold and pillaged as they journey to what they think is a safe haven, but in actuality is a place that will treat them as pariah. These people, suffering from goodness knows what mental trauma, are being asked to take refuge in societies suffering from their own.

If you need to make some sort of connection from all that disconnection, watch the short drama "Home" by the BBC. It's a Bafta Award-winning short film telling the story of millions of modern-day refugees - in reverse. A British family leave their home for what at first appears to be a holiday, but their trip soon turns out to be a very different kind of journey.

It takes white people on a trip that might open their eyes when they walk a few thousand miles in Syrian shoes. The human cost today is devastating, but the cost to future generations is immeasurable. Who knows how many generations we may have lost.

Some Americans may have no understanding that people who aren't American exist, but they need to know that before we are answerable to God, we are answerable to our world. Same with any crackpot who thinks the only way to fight against the feeling of helplessness is to bomb up.

At a time when the world needs consistency, clarity, wisdom - instead, it gets the juvenilia of a deluded leader or two. This has happened before every world war, and not much has changed. The sign of the times is a sign of all times, and it's worrying not only how little we've learned, but how little we've learned to care.

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