We interrupt this blog …

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… for some politic musings.

Like many writers I tend to be left-leaning in my political views. I tend to ascribe to notions of equality and fairness and eschew racism and prejudice in all forms. I’m by no means perfect in that pursuit, but I aspire to improve, to understand and above all to change the world through words and reason.

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So like many people I too am appalled at what’s happening in America at the moment. It’s inconceivable to me that a racist, misogynist moron can become president. That a man who’s bankrupted every business that doesn’t rely on writing his name on a building and walking away can be in charge of a complex web of lives and destinies.

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Like many people I feel action must be taken to limit the damage he does before his vindictive stupidity pushes the whole world beyond the point of no return … and yet I’m also appalled at the way people are choosing to voice their concerns.

When Jeremy Clarkson punched his producer, people were (rightly) outraged, yet when someone punches alt-right Nazis, they applaud it.

Violence is not now nor has ever been the answer.

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Calling out Trump’s behaviour, his racism, his intolerance is our civic duty. Calling him names, like I did above, is in no way helpful and does nothing to help the cause because (and this is really important) 59 million Americans believe Trump is the man who’s going to save them.

Calling him names is calling them names and no one likes to be called names.

I firmly believe Trump is wrong in almost everything he says. When he is occasionally right it’s because he’s lying and saying what he’s been told people want to hear. There’s one phrase I find particularly incorrect, one he’s used to justify his Muslim ban: fighting fire with fire.

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This is wrong. You don’t fight fire with fire, you fight fire with water.*

When people are getting angry and aggressive, you calm them down. You listen to them, you address their concerns and, where appropriate, you educate them.

Calling them names and punching them does not help.

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Donald Trump is the symptom of a far deeper problem here, namely a broken and corrupt system designed to protect inequality and prevent social mobility. All of the money in the world funnels upwards leaving nothing at the bottom. All of our businesses and corporations are run for the benefit of shareholders instead of customers or employees. No one owns anything so there’s no one to complain to, there is no Mr Vodafone or Mrs Tesco to care if their companies don’t work properly or screw people over. The employees are paid very little, the CEOs just slash and burn before moving on to a competitor or a completely different field.

No one cares and there’s no one to complain to.

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Politicians have degraded themselves to the point where no one has any faith in them or believes a word they say. Decades of political corruption, sleaze and scandal has undermined any faith the public has in these people whilst at the same time the press has undermined faith in science – the very fabric of our society, the ability to think and the reason why we’re not sitting in caves freezing to death. Science is a method of proving something does or doesn’t work – that’s it. The opposite of science is guessing or lying and yet the papers would have you believe scientists can’t be trusted, that science itself is somehow fundamentally wrong about everything.

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Globalisation should be our future. We started off as tribes and then villages and then city-states. We banded together until each county had a king. Then the counties merged until we had countries, then conglomerations of countries, then whole continents under the same governance. There are pluses and minuses to this merging of borders and cultures and ideas. One downside is the intermediary step of businesses being free to move their factories to the cheapest labour force or to import the cheap labour to their location. This can either be stopped by closing the borders or by bringing all people of the world onto an even footing. New things can be scary, but just as people in Surrey no longer fear people from Sussex or think of them as strangers, the world can become a united people. This middle ground we’re in now is painful and scary for some people, especially people closer to the bottom of the pile.

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Out of this maelstrom of chaos and lies and poverty, Americans were offered a choice – keep everything the same or choose a man who claims to offer something new. Despite the fact Trump doesn’t offer anything new, despite the fact he’s an integral part of the system which keeps people poor, despite the fact he admits his campaign promises were lies, despite the fact he admits he sexually assaults women and even brags about it, despite all that he represents change in the minds of his followers and believers.

They aren’t all racist or stupid and yelling at them won’t help change their opinion.

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And here’s an uncomfortable thought. Removing Trump, assassinating him, impeaching him, declaring his presidency null and void will be a massive middle finger to the 19% of Americans who voted for him. They see him as their President. They believe he represents their interests and wishes and hopes and dreams. Take that away from them and how will they react? Depression? Despair? Anger? Violence? Revolution?

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Trump cannot be allowed to curtail the freedom of whoever he chooses. He cannot be allowed to remove the civic and human rights of people he doesn’t like. He cannot be allowed to impose his will and agenda on others based on nothing more than a whim or half-remembered ‘facts’ he saw on the TV … but equally, perhaps he needs enough rope to hang himself? Perhaps he needs to be given the time and the room to prove he has no one’s interests but his own at heart because whereas he’s clearly a buffoon, he’s a buffoon who’s learnt to push people’s buttons and if we don’t allow those people to understand how dangerous that manipulation is then who will manipulate them next?

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If you take hope away from desperate people, people who feel Donald J Trump is their best and only option, if we take away their hope before they get to see the truth behind his lies … then what comes next will be worse.

Obviously this is a dangerous game, allowing him to mess with a world he doesn’t understand, but maybe allowing an idiot to smash a broken system will lead to something better forming in its place?

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Or maybe not.

Probably not.

I do think calling his followers and supporters names, or punching them is not helpful. Listen to what they have to say, listen to why they think he’s their saviour. Engage with them, disagree with them and by all means call out racist, sexist or hateful language when it crops up, but do it in a noninflammatory way. Don’t divide the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’. There is no ‘them’, ‘we’ are all there is. All of us are ‘us’, in it together for the long haul.

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The best path to peace, tolerance and understanding is to be peaceful, tolerant and understanding.

If you disagree with me, please debate me. Don’t abuse me or threaten me, use your mind to change mine. Use your words to change the world for the better.

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† Save them from what is unclear. Presumably save them from mixing with anyone who isn’t them or from immoral capitalists. You know, people like Donald Trump.

* Okay, technically you can fight fire with fire such as demolishing buildings to stop a fire from spreading … but that’s not really the point.

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Categories: Random Witterings | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “We interrupt this blog …

  1. piersb

    I mostly agree with you. Except that I do think it’s OK to punch actual nazis.

    That guy who got punched?

    Actual nazi. You have to perform some twisty feats of logic which basically say that only those who were members of the Nazi party in 30s/40s Germany count as Real Nazis in order to say he’s not an actual nazi. His record speaks for itself.

    So yes, in principal, violence is wrong, and premeditated violence doubly so.

    But punching an actual nazi?

    Yeah, I can’t get worked up about that.

  2. piersb

    Cos, you know, if you’re already advocating that Jews Aren’t People – http://crooksandliars.com/cltv/2016/11/richard-spencer-are-jews-people-all – I have very little chance of changing your mind in any kind of rational debate. Or indeed of changing the mind of someone who thinks, ooh, maybe we should give someone who actually gives Nazi salutes while shouting “Heil Trump!” the benefit of the doubt.

    And while pacifism in theory is a lovely thing, in practice there are limits to what you can do with a diet of pure love. There are occasions on which, for my money, violence is justified.

    We can discuss where those limits would be – for some it’ll be threats to their loved ones, for some it’ll be threats against their country – but only the purest of pacifists will deny that at some point violence becomes justified.

    I’m chill with violence against nazis. That’s just on the edge of my particular line.

    • Yeah, we all have a line. I’m not above using violence as a tool, but I think it’s misapplied here. I would (and have) used violence to end violent situations, but I would never use it to silence people or to express a dislike for their opinions and beliefs. No matter how abhorrent those beliefs may be.

      As for being unable to change the minds of his followers or supporters – this feels similar to assuming all Brexit voters are racists or all Trump fans are jingoistic. It’s possible my faith in people is misplaced (given I am generally a misanthrope) but I imagine he has a small hard core of Nazi-salute throwing followers and a large cloud of people who’ve never really paid enough attention to his speeches or videos to form a proper opinion, but have a vague sense of what he says and have filled in the gaps with their own opinions.

      Those people, the same kinds of normal, nice people who think Farage speaks for them or Trump is in some way a champion of the poor, don’t see a Nazi getting punched. All they see is someone who they’ve (hopefully erroneously) connected with getting silenced with violence. They don’t get to see that he doesn’t speak for them and shouldn’t be listened to – they see their point of view being physically attacked.

      Or maybe you’re right and punching Nazis highlights that they are Nazis to people who couldn’t otherwise see it? It feels wrong to me and I feel like if an alt-right supporter punched Bernie Sanders for his (in their eyes) offensive views then there would be no question that it was the wrong thing to do.

      I think this is one of those things we’ll probably never agree on!

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