I have tried to write a blog about the first week of the new American president. But it just didn’t work, I simply couldn’t find the right words to express the combination of pity, disgust, anger, fear, sadness and disbelief I feel. It’s like America has entered an alternative reality. An Orwellian nightmare.
“I can’t believe the news today – I want to close my eyes and make it go away”
“Sunday Bloody Sunday” – U2
One of the things I learned from this whole episode; it is true what they say about the decline of culture under influence of a relative small group of evil people. The Trump administration showed it themselves, breaking down freedom at a rapid pace. And under the pretext that they are protecting those freedoms against aggressors from other countries and cultures… Like burning down a store, in order to keep others from blowing it up. It could be characterized as ironic if it wasn’t so pitifully sad…
Some people told me I shouldn’t talk about this. Especially some republican friends. That I should keep silent, being no expert on political or sociological matters. Well, would you regard Trump a political or sociological expert? Or all those people who voted for him? The majority of them seem barely smart enough to tie their own shoes…
Another argument was that the rhetoric Trump sprouted, had to be regarded as metaphoric and not be taken literally. I have a strange habit of believing people about the things they say, or at least that it represents their intentions. But according to his followers these were words for the campaign, he would change once in office… Well, how about that now? One thing must be said, he did what he promised…
A couple of them also said I should keep silent about this because I am no American and live in Europe. Didn’t America profile itself over the last 70 years as the leader of the whole western civilization? Then you can expect people from all over the globe, who will be affected by this election, to speak out. Besides that this is a phenomenon we also see in Europe, with figures like Wilders and LePen.
They also told me to give him a chance. Not to undermine him before he even started. First of all he didn’t need me to undermine his authority, doing a great job of that himself. And secondly, I did give him that chance, but after a week in office it’s already a mess.
This week was one of the weirdest of my entire life. Reading the paper in the morning felt like getting a damage report. America seems to be changed into a dictatorship. Free press is being undermined. The results of scientific investigation under censorship of the new regime. Stupidity is revered celebrated, while intellectuals are made suspicious. Even eliminating people who don’t do what the great leader says. And a couple of propaganda minions to feed “Alternative Facts” to the people… It’s looking an awful lot like North Korea, one glorious leader, and a bunch of yesmen around him.
Some of my American friends told me how afraid they are. How they feel they live in a police state, not shure what the future will bring, and what the next move of the regime will be. When they will become the next persona non grata… Intelligent and courageous people, who welcome everyone with a big heart and open arms. But I have never seen them so hurt and frightened.
Last week I was asked to give the lecture about what happened in my old hometown Langbroek in WWII, for a group of mostly elder ladies in a near village. When I told about the rise of Hitler, one woman in the front row whispered to her neighbor “That’s just like that idiot in America now”. I always end that lecture with a short speech about our own responsibility in preventing it from happening again. It felt weird, two years ago I was giving the same lecture, and roughly the same speech (I never write anything down, it’s always from memory). But what had happened in those two years? It’s like history repeated itself. I know it doesn’t, but there sure some analogies. But when we look at history to have a clue of where this is going, it’s not pretty.
Over the last years I have spoken and written about this. Warning and trying to make people aware. But also to learn what drives them to choose otherwise. I’ve come across a lot of fear, induced and fed by media and politicians. But also met a lot of ignorance, ego(t)ism, covert racism and even some plain stupidity.
Yes, I know this won’t change a bit. But I refuse to keep shut up. Why? Because I won’t look away and keep silent about the feeding of hate, racism and injustice, the spreading of lies and shutting out people for personal gain. One of their biggest crimes is the planned dismantling of education. That’s where civilization starts, the foundations of a society. And breaking that down is a betrayal of the next generations.
I do hope this nightmare will soon come to an end. Totalitarian regimes always do, but at what cost? The damage is far greater than any terrorist attack. It does call upon us to resist, but NOT in a violent way. Violence never makes anything better. Besides that, the violence is just the thing we try to ban out. Tyrants use violence because they lack intellectual strength. They want to reign over people, control their lives, because of their own fears. Desperately trying to fill that void in their soul.
In a way I feel sorry for Donald Trump, he’s playing a fictional character, a caricature he created over the years. A mask of strength and masculinity. But when you look behind it there is nothing left other than an insecure old man, desperately looking for confirmation and admiration of others. That’s why he always boasts about being the best in everything. He thrives on attention, because it somewhat eases the loneliness he feels. Never letting anyone coming really close, because he’s afraid they will look behind the mask and see who he really is.
So he has to keep up the act of a tough man who know what he wants and plays a big leader. Never showing any real emotion – you will never see him laugh or cry – only anger. The tragic and sad figure entrapped in and by his own play. Another aspect of this is that he can never admit he was wrong, because it would undermine this constructed “I am the best at everything” character.
In order to keep this up he must go forth on the path the has chosen. Sometimes he will stop things (Trump Steaks, Vodka, University, Magazine, Airlines) but it’s never his own fault, always due to some outside factor. His personality and businesses are an empty shell, like a decor for a cheap musical, looking great and rich from the outside. But when you come closer it is just flimsy cardboard, held together by some pieces of tape and quickly applied polyurethane foam. In the end, he’s a victim of himself.
Resist by solidarity
I think we should resist in a non-violent manner. By showing solidarity and consideration towards others. Adding something positive to a world that grows grimmer day by day. To say we are not going to take this policy of hate, racism and fear. To show civil (and civilized) disobedience towards the new regime. It takes courage to do so, but civilization and courage are just the things this new potus lacks…