Monthly Archives: November 2016

Keep calm and carry on faking it.

On average, 75% of what Donald Trump said during the campaign was lies.

Hopefully, 75% of his proudly shouted ideas regarding foreign policy, minorities, women, immigrants, gay people and the disabled are also lies that were nothing but a brilliant and Machiavellian move to get to the White House.

One can only hope he faked it all along, that he lied by convenience, not by conviction.

Taking to the streets for the future

Trump was elected and his targets are taking to the streets and, as well the usual bastards who are just here to break and create mayhem, I see something else the protesters have to deal with: the Trump electorate who are attacking them. They compare the situation to Obama’s (re-)election forgetting something crucial but they are happy to compare the two so let’s do just that.

Like Meghan Tonjes said, Obama was not perfect – no president ever was and none of them ever had a smooth ride. He made mistakes, some of them that undoubtedly endangered the economic security of people, via his support to some trans-border treaties for example. But one cannot deny that Obama was a uniting force and therefore provided a feeling of safety for the people of America as a whole. During his campaigns and presidency, when addressing the country, he addressed the country, all of it, not some part of it, pitting people against one another which is exactly what Trump did.

So when people say:
“-When Obama was reelected, we did not make a fuss. We shut up and sucked it up!”

I reply: Damn right you did!

And by the way, No! You did not shut up and got on with it. You kept going on about questioning his Americanness, from his policies to his very birth, you kept associating him with Bin Ladin because their name were close and even after he personally gave the order to gave him killed, you carried on with your usual spewing of conspiracies about him being an ally to Islamists. I don’t call that “shutting up” and “sucking it up”, I call it constant defamation in order to undermine someone just because you disagree with him and you don’t like him. Beyond disagreement or dislike, why these constant attacks?

Because that’s all you had. Obama never gave you ground to feel your freedom of being yourself, of existing, of living in the US was endangered. Maybe you felt that your freedom of carrying a gun was in danger but he never targeted you as a person. When he was elected, you didn’t feel your future, the ones of your family and friends was at stake.

Had Obama campaigned with declarations the likes of “When I am elected, no matter what institutions say, every person I personally consider a racist, I’ll have them fired, put in prison, deport and make sure they never set foot on the American soil again!”, I would have understood you taking to the streets to show your anger because that would have been a direct threat to some of you, and not just your passions, but your very existence as Americans.

You did not take to the streets because Obama was uniting, he went above all types of differences to reach you, appeal to you, talk to you whoever you were whereas Trump is divisive: he doesn’t look at America as one big ensemble constantly moving and reinventing itself but rather a monolithic heterosexual WASP block-like majority who has to reluctantly make room for change by putting up with and giving up privileges to minorities. I am not saying that his whole message but that’s most of it.

His campaign was to change how America is perceived by chopping through it with an axe, extracting the heterosexual, able WASPs and appeal to them by pitting them against every single other type of people: African Americans, Black Caribbeans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, the LGBTQ community, the disabled, non-Christian religions, and even men v women.

To show the damage it does, I will direct to what Clinton said about you when she made the unforgivable mistake of, once, playing into that rhetoric by targeting Trump’s voters saying that “half of them were deplorable”. All of you Trump supporters went up in arms and lashed out. She made the mistake of once being divisive and a lot of people voted for Trump as a result.

That’s why people are in the streets today. To show  the rest of the world that there is more to America than Trump, his ilks and his rhetoric. To show that he doesn’t represent every American but also because they are genuinely scared for their future as they were targeted, not for their opinions or what they did as a living or who they voted for, but for who they are: the colour of their skin, who their heart has feelings for, the birthplace of their parents or even their own. Trump made it openly and proudly clear that all these aspects of identity no one can change, including heterosexual WASPs, were a problem.

If I take the LGBT community, the anguish goes beyond the fear of the resurgence, normalisation and possible formalisation of bullying, it goes to the heart of the family they have built after we had evolved into better, more tolerant human beings – or so we thought – and so I still hope.

Will their marriage of love remain legal or will they have to live underground again?

Will the children they have adopted, they love, nurture and to whom they are giving a chance to finally be happy remain with loving parents or will the family be woken up on January 1st by the sound of social services kicking their way into their home to the snatch the kids away forever because from now on, family can only be defined by blood affiliation and in a heterosexual marriage?

Lacking empathy, lacking the crucial ability of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, you can mock the LGBTQ community for asking such questions but you cannot stop the fear and the anguish we have because we don’t know what the future holds. And it goes well beyond having a job or owning your own house or gun.

Maybe not the same questions, but the same feelings are running through the Black, Asian and Latino communities. What does the future hold for them? And that’s a question you never had to ask yourself as a consequence of Obama’s being elected. That’s why you did not take to the streets and we are. Looking down on us will not make it go away or will it make you feel better about yourself.

“Just the right size.”

Jimmy Carr: Which artist had a TV commercial censored following complaints that it was both possible to see his penis and scrotum?

Kevin Bridges: I put Lady Gaga, Jimmy…

Jimmy Carr: It is not Lady Gaga.

Alan Carr: Aw, I thought it was cause she’s like half rice half chips, isn’t she?

David Mitchell: Which sexuality is rice and which one is chips?

Jimmy Carr: I think chips is heterosexual and rice is homosexual.

Noel Fielding: Surely couscous is gay. Rice isn’t gay…Courgettes are homophobic.

Sarah Millican: I know courgettes are just the right size.

David Mitchell: What a lovely marketing campaign for courgettes! “Just the right size!”

A cynic, a pessimist and an historian.

I am a pessimist and as David Mitchell says: “The good thing about being a pessimist is that you are never truly disappointed.”

So Trump is president of the United States of America. And? Yes, it’s bad news but only a fool would not have seen it coming, I feel.

I don’t venture into “T told you so” anymore because I have stopped telling people “so” a long time ago for I have always been accused of being a pessimist, of always seeing the bad in everything.

My pessimism goes to such an extent that people don’t believe me or sometimes they even think I’m rooting for the bad ones to win so to shake up everything with a wrecking ball – alike to those who say “a good war would be good.”  Last month, I was talking to some people who asked me why I wanted to leave France again and I said: “I am not going to stand there and be an accomplice to Marine Le Pen winning the elections.”

That was very unwelcome amongst the people present, especially two black friends who reacted badly but it’s a truth I can’t help to believe in. I was told “my cynicism was sickening.”

I am accused of not giving people enough credit but as Roisin Conaty said to Ian Hislop when she predicted Trump as a president and he told her not to be so defeatist: “Brexit!”

I want to believe in people, in the good in them, in their supposed selflessness; I want to jinx the “Marine LePen = Présidente”, believe me, I do! But my conviction is that she will win, I never had faith in humanity which makes it even more important for me to vote against her – because my pessimism not is stopping me from wanting to play my part in preventing what I know to be coming.

Even more so, I am so terribly convinced it is lurking and waiting, I believe in my personal little mission to do what I can to stop it.

So, no. I am not surprised Trump was elected. I had my doubts and kept hoping until the FBI came out as people were already voting to say that there were more emails and there could be something there, just to say it was nothing a couple of days before the actual election.

That guy tried to save his skin but he has killed his career for he has proved himself a terrible liability for all parties. Trump sees him as someone who tried to undermine his rhetoric all the way, and a uncontrollable electron who will drop terribly undermining bombshells at any time; and the Democrats are now convinced it was the worst choice Obama has ever made in his entire career.

I know all this and knew it was coming because of that cynicism people are accusing me of.

Cynicism comes from knowing so much that you cannot help but question everything. My anxiety means that facing with any situation, I over-analyse everything, thoroughly. And it applies to everything I take an interest in, including the US elections.

I read, watched, listened, witnessed and like Brexit, tried to jinx it and to convince myself it would not happen but the pessimist in me knows what anger drives people to do. History is here to teach us something – which is why it’s so gladly rewritten when not deemed unnecessary, as it is in the US school system, by the affluent and powerful who find solace in the masses’s “blissful ignorance”.

When Cameron announced the date of the referendum, I went on Facebook at once and said, months earlier, that, as an historian, it was a very exciting moment as they would leave the EU and the UK would break after 300 years.

I am not pretending to be some kind of psychic Cassandra but as an historian by education, I have crucially learnt to read the signs. Throughout history, there are circles, even back in the Middle Ages when periods of freedom, openmindness were abruptly stopped by a conservative backlash.

Today, it’s the backlash against the rights movements and the minorities they protect, all blamed for all the pain the former privileged ones are experiencing or are afraid to experience. It’s not the poor and disenfranchised who made Trump president, it’s the authoritarian-loving middle class who mostly did, in a desperate bid to stop whatever is seen as a risk to turn them into what they despise the most: the poor themselves.

It’s the, justified, backlash against the almighty finance and markets who are indeed ruling the world nowadays, thanks to the Republicans as much as the Democrats. It’s the failure of the GOP who lost control of own its God-centred and divisive rhetoric in the hands of the people who this time did not care for God or to go for someone who was “Against everything but…”, rather went for someone who was against everything, full stop.

I can carry on like this forever, going back to Nixon, talking about the US traditional distrust of its own government and therefore habit of electing people who have (close to) no qualifications for the job. Just like I can go back to 1965 to find the seeds of Brexit and 1962 for the upcoming triumph of Front National in France.

Today, Donald Trump is president and anyone who dismissed it is not “out-of-touch with the real people”, just a fool who refused to see the realities of a failed education system and a deeply divided country suffering from the global economic rules the US have been writing and pushing through themselves since the 1950s. That’s the real backlash. People believed it when told it would benefit the First World as a whole and are angry to see that it has turned out to only benefit the likes of Donald Trump, who skillfully managed to play victim of a system supported by Clinton herself. That’s the pessimistic and cynical me, talking.

As an historian, it’s fascinating, more than the Bush era. It’s an end of to post-WWII and post-Cold War US economics and politics as we know it, the beginning of the unknown, the possible worldwide domino-effect but mostly and hopefully the last chapter in the withering of the last superpower under its own contradiction and betrayal of the values that made it strong to begin with. Or more likely, just a blip. A hole in the crouch area of your favourite jeans. You’ll get a new one when you can…

Lazy people = bad rulers.

Republicans have one path in this election and it’s called “False equivalency.” They cannot deny Trump is horrible, it’s on tape so they want voters to believe Hillary is just as bad. And in pursuit of that goal, they have a very powerful ally: lazy people.

People who like to say: “They’re all bad” because when you say that you don’t have to do any homework. Say “They’re all the same” and then you can sound justifiably jaded by the whole process when really, you just don’t know anything.

You say you are cynical about politics? Don’t flatter yourself!

Cynicism comes when you know too much. You, on the other hand, haven’t bothered to actually learn anything which people are capable of.

Noah Chomski once observed that when he listening to a sport’s calling show, he said that:

“It’s plain that a high degree of thought and analysis is going into that…People know all sort of complicated details. On the other hand, when I hear people talking about international affairs or domestic problems, it’s at a level of superficiality that’s beyond belief.”

Bill Maher.