Trump protests are counterproductive

Posted on: 6th June 2019

I understand why many chose to boycott or protest against Trump. However, I fear it’s counterproductive. It has the opposite effect to the one the protestors/boycotters desire. Trump may go back to the US with an impression he’s not universally adored throughout the UK, but he’ll have dominated the news and with sky-high public relations scores.

I’m from the old fashioned school of diplomacy. We should respect the office of the US President but be robustly candid with the office holder when necessary, and mostly in private.

In part I blame the national media’s obsessive ratings’ war for the recent rise of populist right-wing politicians like Donald Trump. The more attention-seeking, narcissistic, more offensively outspoken, the more walls they threaten to build, the more minorities they promise to persecute the more the media love reporting them. Politicians who display graciousness, compassion, subtlety, humility and warmth are in contrast considered boring and not worth reporting. Where’s the news in that?!

In the past one could politely excuse oneself from enduring a barroom bigot. Simply make up an implausible tale – “sorry, but there’s a house fire at home /…a machete-wielding maniac in the high street …a woman about to give birth in our stable block …etc …must dash!” – and gradually, one by one, the bar would empty leaving the bore with just the publican’s dog to mansplain himself to, while everyone else was crammed in the public bar next door having a good time.

However, now these people are entitled to tweet to whole continents and some even get elected to high office. All because the media loves a colourful story. It seems they’ve long given up seeking truth. The old public service ethos has mostly withered.

The media now colludes in a well established formula; one where politicians race to the bottom, play on fears and prejudices, pick on vulnerable groups – preferably ones which can’t speak up for themselves – and then goes on to bully anyone who attempts to defend them. They work on the Oscar Wilde assumption – “There’s one thing worse than being talked about. And that’s NOT being talked about!” – though I doubt Wilde and they would see eye-to-eye on anything else!

Here’s Trump infamously attempting to compare his desire to build a wall on the Mexican border and the “wall, the border” in Ireland…

To use American style, “Is this man for real?” I still hold out a hope that Trump is really an extended cringe-comedy act, who will eventually unmask himself as cleverly exposing the US extreme right’s gullibility and ignorance.