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A comic sketch, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump A comic sketch, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump
by Thanos Kalamidas
2016-11-17 09:32:39
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In the early hours of November 9th, I wrote in my social media page: “Now, I’m scared” and after a few minutes a friend commented, “don’t be, we survived Reagan and Thatcher.” We did, didn’t we? And it was bad. Especially with Thatcher. And that’s something I lived myself very closely, in the area that attracted most of her menace, in Yorkshire. And yes we did survive Ronald despite the fact that the day he was elected we started the countdown for the day it will start raining nuclear bombs.

But did we really survived it or we just never heard the extent of all the damage they did? Did we know at the time the effect they had in our lives? You see, there is a huge difference between Maggie and Ronald’s era with contemporary times and this difference is called communication, internet. The other difference stands into who really were these “us” who survived the cowboy’s era. I’m going to use the same example President Obama used in his conference a few hours before departing for his last trip abroad as president. The Cuban missiles crisis was probably after the two world wars the biggest crisis any US administration faced in the 20th century. Still, the then President, J.R. Kennedy, found out about the unveiling Russian plan, six days after it had already started. Six days. How long do you think it will take president Obama to find out if Putin has hiccups in Kremlin or if Bashar al-Assad farted in his royal bedroom? Six minutes? Six seconds?

elect02_400We short of knew that Ronald Reagan was a racist (rumours had him member of the Klan in his youth), we all short of knew his cowboy attitude towards anything left, especially communist; a good communist is the dead communist. We all short of knew that the man was part of the darkest era in the American modern history with McCarthy’s witch-hunt and we all suspected that the man was an idiot, incapable and dangerous for the position of the president of the USA. Short of. Because apart from his anti-communism and participation in the McCarthy witch-hunt as Hollywood’s official informer, nothing else was verified or documented. Furthermore he himself after becoming president was extremely careful in what he said or did.

Plus – and please pay attention in this – how much did we know about the life of the average African-American during Reagan’s era and outside the metropolitan centres – especially in the south States – where little had changed for them despite a civil war and civil rights laws and battles?

A day after the election with Donald Trump as the new US President elect, the comic show Saturday Night Live had a sketch with Dave Chappelle called “Election Night”. The scene is in a room with six young people - four white (two men two women) and two young African-Americans. The news keep coming and it gets to the point where Trumps election is nearly sure when one of the white women says “oh my God, I think America is racist.” The two black men look at each other and …smile. This little gesture, this smile was all the show. It said everything. But that was not the end. A bit later the very same young white woman says: “Do you know how it is for a woman in this country where you can’t get ahead no matter what?” Dave Chappelle just says …”oh gee!” And the conclusion comes from Chris Rock who says to his white devastated friends, “come guys, get some rest, you got a hard day tomorrow in …Facebook!” After that I fell quiet for long time leaving the sadness of everything said and not said sink in me. Actually it was for one more time a lesson, the bitterest truths and the most dramatic scenes come from comedy.

But how true, every single part of it! The majority thought that the civil rights strangle and racism ended sometime in 1960s – 1970s. King won, Kennedy won. There are rules and laws now. Now we have democracy, real democracy, everybody is equal. It is in all our constitutions. We said the same in Europe. Do you know that in Europe there are countries like Germany where the word Nazism and the spread of whatever “ideology” Nazis have, is illegal punishable by the law? And? Marine Le Pen veils her racism, anti-Semitism, prejudice under the name National Front and she actually might be the next French president and the fascist Viktor Orbán is Hungary’s Prime Minister. Does that mean that the Hungarians were touched one day from Hitler’s spirit and became fascists overnight or that the French were sprayed with some kind of fascist gas ten years ago? Does that mean that after a long icy winter 22% of the Finns, the global champions of democracy and transparency, became raving xenophobes, racists and blind nationalists doubting even the Geneva Conventions, the rights of the noncombatants and refugees? Was it a sudden thunder from Olympus that brought in the Greek parliament the 18 Nazi MPs of the Golden Dawn; in a country with alive memories from a murderous, fascist dictatorship? Do you really believe that fascism was defeated with the end of the WWII and Hitler’s suicide? Do you really believe that civil rights were fully restored with Kennedy and King? If you believed that, then you really missing the problem and why we are standing were we are standing with Viktor Orbán Prime Minister in Hungary and Donald Trump President elect in USA.

But returning to Ronald Reagan, there was another element that period that made the difference; the element of shame and guilt. The memories from the WWII and the consequences of a fascist regime, the lack of democracy were not just alive, the people who were there, who lived it, were alive. There were holocaust survivors and war victims, even ruins around to remind us. Plus, and this is where big part of the shame comes, when everything started not only many ignored it but some actually saw in it a “solution” to economic and ideological problems. Today when we talk about USA and WWII there is one name coming to mind, Franklin D. Roosevelt but we constantly forget that Roosevelt and his anti-Hitler, pro-Europe ideas had a lot of enemies – not just opposition, enemies - inside USA. There were a few that saw a “liberator” from communism in Hitler and in the beginning they thought that Jews were whining as …usual.

Roosevelt had often to use tricks even to cheat the Congress to help the Europeans in their fight against fascism and ironically it was Pearl Harbor that changed the tie. Actually Roosevelt has been accused for manufacturing Pearl Harbor, - not only from the usual suspects, conspiracy theorists etc. - but from members of the Republican establishment including one of them the then New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey. Doesn’t now Donald Trump and his accusations that president Obama founded ISIS sound like a déjà vu?

With all these memories alive and kicking, it was very difficult even impossible for Reagan, or any Reagan, to apply even suspicions of authoritarianism in any western state at that period. Plus and try to understand how important that is, even if he did we might had never heard of it.

So in the beginning of the 21st century you have a series of changes, changes mostly compared with Reagan’s era. Being a redneck, being a nationalist, xenophobe, and prejudice is not a shame or guilt anymore. On the contrary, not been a redneck nationalist casts you as a liberal elitist who theorises about everything without any touch with the “real life”. Television and the media in general, played a huge role to that, creating series of caricature intellectuals that gradually became stereotypes. Like the one which wants everybody whose interest in the environment to be vegetarian, constantly smoking weed. Patriotism was connected with blind nationalism and carrying a weapon with freedom. Then we ourselves and in the name of political correctness veiled/normalized fascism and racism with words like euro-skeptism or xenophobia, actually bringing them to the mainstream and our societies. We voluntarily accepted them, but we did it hiding behind our white intellectuality and as the democratic majority we looked at them as a minority with …equal rights in a political correct democracy. Alas we became too comfortable – look, even Reagan didn’t really screwed us up – too confident, – democracy always prevails – and too arrogant – we defeated racism and fascism in 1960s. We missed what really happens with the grassroots of our society that was left behind because blinded with our confidence we were too busy with our future.

When Ronald Reagan took over the American presidency the whole world took a deep breath waiting for the worst to come. Actually …chaos happened in the Soviet Union, Gorbachev happened and stole Reagan’s anti-communist momentum. What was going on with the African-Americans or other minorities inside USA is something not even Americans know since there were neither Facebook nor Twitter then. Gays weren’t in the holy land for sure but this was a sensitive subject for the whole world at that moment.

Now what somehow worked for Reagan’s era, the low to none communication of information, doesn’t work for Trump even though he did a good use of it. Now we don’t …short of know that Trump is a xenophobic racist, we do know. Actually it was he who told us. He twitted it himself. Now we don’t …short of know that he is a sexist pig that he doesn’t believe in equality, we do know. He told us repeatedly. It is not just random suspicions that he is an authoritarian, paranoid, white supremacist, we saw it in every single interview and speech he gave the last few months and we watched it globally, it was his own words coming out of his own mouth that persuaded us.

elect01_400_01But before we get any further another issue. The election issue. Before the election and till the very last minute, Donald Trump often accused the system as ringed. He actually said in the last debate that he is not going to accept the result of the elections, except if he is …the winner. All democratic and liberal America, including the majority of the media, rebelled accusing him for anti-democratic methods and intentionally sabotaging the next American president. That was because they were sure that Hilary will win. Hillary lost and now all American democrats and liberals, including most of the media, say that the system is …ringed because Hillary might lost in the electoral but won the popular vote. I’m sorry but I’ve got news for all of you. Hillary lost big and you cannot accept the system while she was winning and dismiss it the moment she’s losing. Hillary lost big because she played in a game with rules she had already and long accepted.

It doesn’t matter what I believe, it doesn’t matter what my friend John or my friend Emanuel believe about the system with the electorates. That’s the system you all have accepted, you never tried to change and that’s the system that brought Donald Trump in the White House. The rest are just poor excuses to hide your anger and denial. Denial because you have a great responsibility for what happened. I would have accepted the whole theory of popular vote and who REALLY won if the democrats didn’t know how the system works. They do. Actually they have lost in the past due to the wrong doing of the system and even though they had the chance they didn’t do anything to correct it. Sadly they didn’t do anything because in the past the very same system had worked for them and they hope that it will work again for them in the future. So, since they never wanted to deal with it, they have to live with it.

Let’s go a bit backwords now. Why Hillary? Hillary is corrupted, instrument of the establishment, pawn of the lobbies and the banks. A war-hawk with a personal agenda in the essence of the Democratic Party’s establishment. And I absolutely agree with all of these but they voted her during the primaries to represent them. Even though all this with the primaries and the electoral looks to me the same way a cricket game looks to most Americans, still she was the popular nominee for the presidency of the USA. So, the big question should be why her! Weren’t any other alternatives? What about Sanders? Was it because she represented the Democratic Party values better than anybody else, or was it because she was the …sure horse? I’m afraid the answer lies with the later. The Democratic Party wanted a victory. At any cost. Didn’t care about principals and ideology. Obviously this died eight years ago with Obama. That meant Hillary and now they pay the cost of their choices. They lost from Donald Trump. Which makes their defeat even pettier and pathetic. But – at least for me – it is themselves they have to blame, they bet in the right “horse” instead of investing in the right stand.

Hilary did good with the health system and she did good with the disable kids and there are a few more things I miss here. Not everything about her was bad and this is a fact. Please tell me what the pussy-grabber has done to prove himself competitively? Cheated, bullied, stole, harass and the list covers every single letter of the monsters’ alphabet. And no, it was not about choosing the one eye among the blind. The other side is Adolph Hitler reincarnated with funny hair instead of a funny moustache. Suddenly even Hilary seems attractive.

So we know that racism hasn’t died, we know that Trump is the peak of a mountain of sexism, inequality, prejudice and racism and we also know that there is no presidential fairy that will change him into a good president tonight. Trump is Trump and that’s it. Now, let’s see how we are going to deal with it and make sure that for the next four years the damage he will do – because he will – will not be so big and untreatable.

Two last things I heard about the elections. “Give him a chance; in his first speech he has soften and he has already taken back some of the things he said.” Really? Let’s hope that the bullshitter bullshitted? Let’s hope that the liar lied? Seriously? Please don’t try to marginalise or normalize him, he is a fascist and racist monster, period.

The other thing is that …give him a chance, “let him govern first.” He had all the bloody chances anybody in his place had in the past and will have in the future. The man was not elected to become the apprentice of the local MacDonald for frying chips. The man was elected for President of the United States. The second he was knowingly elected his chances “to try” were over. There is no trial period in the presidency. The next two months give him barely enough time to organize the bureaucracy of his position not to become president. If he is not ready he has better to resign already. Nobody, NOBODY is going to wait for him to be ready.

But he doesn’t have to wait, does he? As always, the Donald is there to show us that he is the Donald and the rest of it is just smoke and ink to confuse us. His followers have already started. 300 hate incidents have already been reported to the Congress, according Senator Harry Reid. Only to the Congress. How many more have been reported locally and how many more have conveniently …disappeared? Please don’t say things like that don’t happen, they do and they did.

The real Donald Trump is here. Code name: Steve Bannon. The scumbag of the scumbags. The only thing missing from his public appearances is the white robe and cape. A man who flags hate, prejudice, discrimination, racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim. A true believer for Adolph Hitler, the Trump campaign’s CEO, the President elect adviser and the President Trump’s chief strategist and senior counsellor. Trump just killed all the chances for understanding. What remains now first for the Democratic Party is to do exactly what Ban Sanders kept saying, return to the grassroots and fight your battles there. For the American people resistance is the only answer. They still have a voice, in the Congress or with their Representatives, even in the streets. They have to use it without any delay. Starting yesterday.

To a more personal level now. Of course I got angry and frustrated with Trumps victory. You see it’s not only the fact that been an immigrant myself I empathize with all the immigrants and their worries in USA but it is also that Trump has constantly insulted any dignity and ethic in me. He is the opposite of everything I believe and stand for. Donald Trump represents everything I fight against.

Still, this is not just it. The election of Trump in the US presidency has an impact to all of us doesn’t matter where we live. It’s not only the fact that USA as the superpower has anyway an impact in our lives it’s that Marine Le Pen talked about her turn the other day, that Viktor Orbán said “we won” that the Greek Nazi Golden Dawn said that “we are the next.” All of them openly fascists, racists, criminals in every aspect who consider Donald Trump their comrade in arms.

In Europe the last few years we are continually fighting the constantly rising of fascism, Nazism, racism and we are doing so in elections, in parliaments, in court rooms, in the streets, in our work. And we have already started counting dead. It is that on Friday, November 11th and just two days after Trump became the next president of the USA the Swedish Nazi party paraded in the middle of the Swedish capital, Stockholm, 1,000 participants’ strong carrying fascist flags and banners and screaming “immigrants hide, our turn is coming”. It is the fact that their main speaker was a German who had served in Hitler’s youth during the war and was proud for his participation in the holocaust. It is the fact that Americans by elected Trump in their Presidency legitimised fascism and Nazism in Europe. It is the fact that a twelve year-old boy, 3rd generation Pakistani who has never see Pakistan,  considers Manchester his home and the Queen his ruler, heard a man telling him that now with Brexit and Trump in USA he has better pack his things and go back to wherever he belongs. It is the fact that one of the first five leaders who called him to congratulate him was Erdogan, the Turkish dictator who feels that now he has somebody in the White house he can “communicate” with. You see for Erdogan even George W. Bush was …too liberal. Putin followed later but with Vladimir, the Donald has too many things to discuss. Donald Trump apart from legitimizing racism and fascism legitimizes all the little Hitler-alike all around the world. What does that say about him?

It’s the fact that this man marks a new era for the world and there is a 1936 déjà vu in this new era with nothing, absolutely nothing good to bring. That’s why we are all oblige to resist wherever we are.

If I’m scared? Yes I’m bloody am scared. I feel like I live a historic déjà vu with 1936-38. I can even hear everybody saying, don’t worry, it’s just words, Mr Hitler only wants peace. Look, he even sighed a peace treaty with Chamberlain, the Molotov - Ribbentrop Pact! And we saw where all these led, didn’t we?

 ****************************************

P.S. 1 This moment there is a huge internal battle among the Republicans into who controls whom. Is it the Republican Party controlling Trump or the Donald controlling the Republican Party and with them the whole Capitol Hill? In the meantime who gives a damn for the American people and the American democracy, it is all about power and control. If you have any doubts ask Ivanka, Eric Trump of Junior!

P.S. 2 Ivana Trump is going to be the new US ambassador to Czech Republic. A great day for US commerce, she’s going to promote US plastic surgeons and divorce lawyers.


           
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Emanuel Paparella2016-11-17 13:26:44
Thank you Thanos for reminding us all of past history, deja vu, of the Weimar Republic which only 8 decades ago elected a deplorable man with a funny mustache in 1933 as Chancellor of Germany, and of the US Republic who has elected a deplorable man with funny hair in 2016; all democratically done, by the way. Indeed, we have seen this movie before and we know how it ends. Those who don’t know their history are condemned to repeat it.

To be sure, there was resistance in Germany, there was resistance in Italy even during the war but it was all futile. By the time they realized that their freedom had been stolen and began analyzing the true causes why it was stolen, it was too late; and you are quite right, poor excuses and hiding of one’s anger are futile and not very courageous and will not solve the problem, it will only exacerbate it. What may help is keeping one’s eyes open and remaining vigilant, and an objective and sober analysis, even if it proves to be a post-mortem.

Of course, adherence to democratic principles and resistance is praiseworthy, even necessary, but I agree that it will do little to change the spots on the leopard ready to devour democracy and social justice. The resistance needs to be long and hard, even heroic, especially on the part of those who have diagnosed correctly the situation in which we presently find ourselves in, with a Trojan horse right in the citadel of democracy and men inside the horse with fascist leanings ready to destroy it once and for all. Indeed, the ghost of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Regan and Thatcher hover ominously over this election.

So does the ghost of Sanders who was done it by the Democratic party and that may explain even more than the fat speaking fees collected by his rival from the fat cats on Wall Street, the ones responsible for a recession which hit hard the middle class and the poor, and they got away with it while the politicians looked the other way. As the polls indicate, in Michigan and Wyoming, the very same people who had voted for President Obama went to vote for Trump this time around. That, to my mind, indicates less racism and more resentment at being ignored and neglected and seeing one’s wages stagnating since the Regan years and globalization.

They decided to change everything for change is always attractive to men in despair. As Dostoevsky put aptly put it: to place a man in a completely deterministic universe is to risk that he will blow it up and him with it simply to prove that he is free.

Be that as it may, I remain convinced that Michael Moore who warned about the results of the election before it happened thus confounding the pundits and the experts, has a point here. Indeed, as you correctly point out, Regan and Thatcher who at least had some respect for the office, even if they had no concern for the plight of the middle class and the disadvantaged, were the precursors of what has ensued in the last thirty years or so. But then let’s not demonize them and make them the only culprits because that in itself is not the correct diagnosis. They were involved and complicit in a process called globalization which insured ultimately that the fat-asses and rich like Trump tripled and quadrupled their wealth while the poor and middle class stayed where they were.

I think Sanders explained it much better to people at large than a Clinton and many people who were ready to vote for him ended up voting for the night in shining armor whom they expect to be their savior, once presented with a distasteful alternative. Good luck to them. The recriminations and buyers’ remorse are sure to follow as it surely followed Brexit. Just you wait.

The above is not to deny the fact that racism remains a virulent virus of the American body politics which returns intermittently and it is yet to be cured. But I for one remain convinced that it is not the only or whole explanation of the danger in which Democracy finds itself presently. In fact, racism if made the only explanation, may well become an excuse for neglecting the economic diagnosis of globalization, a way to hide one’s anger at the sheer affrontery to one’s beliefs and sensibilities that a Trump and his ilk represent.
There are surely racists in America and there are racists in Europe but the economic conditions of the Weimar Republic need also to be examined to fully explain the phenomenon of a Hitler or a Mussolini or a Thatcher or Trump for that matter. I kind of doubt that those who voted for Obama in 2012 and for Trump in 2016 had suddenly become racists in four short years, or to legitimize Hitler and fascism in Europe; in reality they may not even know who Hitler was and that may be part of the problem.

Let’s pray for the best and prepare for the worst which may soon come willy nilly.


Emanuel Paparella2016-11-17 14:22:05
P.S. I forgot to examine the issue of the electoral college mentioned in the above: actually, there have been attempts in the past to eliminate the electoral college from the electoral process, but have never been successful since an amendment to the Constitution is an arduous process made so on purpose by the founding fathers.

And why, one may ask, did they put it there, together with the forbidding of the franchise for women, slaves, whites without property? If we wish to give them the benefit of the doubt we can say that they did so to insure that in case of a fraudulent or illegal election there would be a way to redress it. That is to say, they were somewhat skeptical of the unthinking ignorant masses to the polls.

One may agree or disagree with above premise but to be logical with it, one can legitimately make the case that this present election was rigged and manipulated by foreign hackers and even foreign leaders abroad (Mr. Putin being the prime candidate for such a charge) and therefore an electoral college members with a conscience will redress such a rigging by electing on December 18 the candidate who legitimately received the majority of the votes. I suppose on that day we’ll have a test of whether or not it was a valid premise or if there are still people with a conscience left in America. That test will also be predictive of what we can expect from the one who was elected with the help of hacking foreign agents. We'll soon find out.


Leah Sellers2016-11-17 16:50:45
Well done, dear sir !! And thank you for the chuckles amongst this provocatively Truth Raising Read !


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