Opinion

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Gene Kerrigan: Sexist Trump's sickly land of grope 'n glory

How far do we go in serving the crotch-grabbing US President?

Illustration by Tom Halliday
Illustration by Tom Halliday
Gene Kerrigan

Gene Kerrigan

What will President Donald Trump do after he's inaugurated on January 20? Rhetoric aside, what will the American right, now in total control of the Presidency and Congress, actually do now that they're sweeping into power?

And why did Enda Kenny seek to mislead us last week about what he said about Trump?

As far as I am concerned President-elect Donald Trump is a racist liar, a misogynistic crotch-grabber who's unfit for any position in which he might abuse power.

We know this because American politicians - mostly Republican - spent months saying it. Take, for instance, Congressman Jason Chaffetz. He has a 15-year old daughter and he said he couldn't look her in the eye if he backed the crotch-grabber.

Of course, when Trump went up in the polls Chaffetz shrugged and backed the crotch-grabber. Maybe he figured being able to look your kid in the eye is overrated.

A whole lot of outraged politicians disowned Trump - and now they crawl back, licking their lips at the prospect of power and influence.

So, what can we expect from Trump's America?

Sharpened racial conflict, for a start. Trump's victory, many agree, arose from the "economic anxiety" of white working class people.

Their trade unions weakened, they are powerless and pissed-upon. Political and economic elites treat them as disposable labour units, to be plugged in or discarded as required.

This, obviously, is true - but only part of the truth.

The economic hierarchy is one part of the equation. The racial hierarchy is another. And in the face of economic oppression, many find solace in their imagined racial status.

So, yes, a majority of working class whites backed Trump. So did middle class whites. The racial divide is stark. Eight years of a black dude in the White House? That hurt.

And, maybe another four years with a woman in charge? No thanks.

This simply went against deeply felt racist and sexist beliefs.

Simultaneously, the liberals had endorsed policies that many conservatives find offensive - to the point where it became uncomfortable to say what they really feel about gay marriage, gender equality and racial justice.

What many wanted was someone who restored the status of whites - and put down those snooty, "politically correct" types who get upset if you use the words you've always used to describe blacks, women and gays.

And the crotch-grabbing billionaire was just the man for the job.

His vulgarity, his lack of nuance, his unashamed narcissism, the disdain so many liberals obviously felt for him, only made him more suitable for the role of pushing back the years.

How will this play out?

What will Trump do? What will his fans do on the streets, in the schools? What will the Republican politicians, now enabled by Trump's victory, feel they can get away with?

We know what Trump wants - everything from the Mexican wall to expulsion of immigrants, round-ups of Muslims. We should not assume he was lying about this.

On the street, we already know how that's going. On the night of the count, as it became clear that Trump would win, a prominent American journalist named Peter Beinart tweeted his solidarity with American Muslims, in the best liberal Jewish tradition.

His timeline filled with anti-Semitism. "Kike". "Get out of our country, parasite."

Twitter insults are common, but these came complete with the Nazi signifiers - the "Juden" remarks, the reference to "Zyklon B", used by the Nazis in the gas chambers. "In the ovens you go."

In the past few days, correspondents in NBC and in the New York Daily News have chronicled an explosion of racist bullying on the streets and in the schools. Racial attacks and insults to Muslim women. In schools there have been "build that wall" chants at Hispanics.

It reflects precisely the UK experience after the Brexit vote. When racism is endorsed at the ballot box the racists genuinely believe their wildest fantasies have to be indulged.

We won, why are you still in my country?

Harry Reid, conservative Democrat senator, said: "I have heard more stories in the past 48 hours of Americans living in fear of their own government and their fellow Americans than I can remember hearing in five decades in politics.

''Hispanic Americans who fear their families will be torn apart, African Americans being heckled on the street, Muslim Americans afraid to wear a headscarf, gay and lesbian couples having slurs hurled at them and feeling afraid to walk down the street holding hands.

''American children waking up in the middle of the night crying, terrified that Trump will take their parents away. Young girls unable to understand why a man who brags about sexually assaulting women has been elected president." Politically, Republicans have signalled their determination to take America back to the 1950s.

Paul Ryan, House Speaker, wants to savage Medicare. The pension age may go up. They're planning tax cuts of over $6 trillion over the next decade - and that will require massive cuts in services and benefits.

Of the $6 trillion, over half of the tax cuts will apply to those in the wealthiest 1pc.

Newt Gingrich, who until now could only dream of real power, wants to revive the House Un-American Committee, last seen in the days of McCarthyism. The blacklists and the bullying of that era were long seen as a shameful episode in US history. Now, the right can be openly unashamed, even proud of such oppression.

What if Trump decides to round up immigrants?

Round-ups are not unknown in US history. Around 120,000 Japanese Americans, 80pc of them citizens, were interned for years in the 1940s - in the name of homeland security.

Again, this has long been seen as a shameful episode in US history. Again, the right now lacks shame.

For historical reasons, fascism dare not come forth under its own banner. It must borrow the emblems of faith and fatherland, accessorised with concerns about terrorism.

US democratic institutions have roots, we may not see a re-run of Nazi Germany.

But we may well see something resembling Erdogan's Turkey.

And, if the crotch-grabber begins flying out planeloads of immigrants, to be dumped God knows where, might we continue to facilitate him at Shannon?

Our Taoiseach's little helpers quickly spread the word of how they arranged for him to have a word in the crotch-grabber's ear last week, to let him know we are at his service.

At the same time, Enda had to cover his tracks. Hadn't he denounced Trump as "dangerous" and "racist"?

Ah, he said, "When asked if I would agree" that Trump's comments were racist and dangerous "I said 'yes', in respect of those comments".

That's not what the Dail record shows.

On May 31, Richard Boyd Barrett TD called Trump "racist and dangerous". Some time later, while dodging a question from Boyd Barrett on military use of Shannon, Kenny went out of his way to put this on the record: "If Trump's comments are racist and dangerous, as they are, there is an alternative to vote for."

At a time when Trump looked unlikely to win, there was political benefit in slagging him off and sucking up to Clinton.

Now, the facts must be rearranged.

People often wonder if they'd have behaved at their best, had they lived in difficult historical times. Well, folks, we're about to find out.

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