The world is not exactly in the midst of a calming decade and the strangeness of it all is pretty much summed up in the words issued this past week by the so-called evangelical christian (small “C” intended), Pat Robertson, when he said “… but you don’t blow up an international alliance over one person. I mean, I’m sorry.”
Of course he was talking, as a supposed Christian leader, about the torture and brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudis. Stephen Colbert, never one to miss a great opportunity for an acerbic riposte, said, “Thank you, Reverend, for capturing the core message of Christianity. How important can one man’s death be?”
The irony of Robertson’s amoral response is, of course, clear. We have the spectacle of a supposed spiritual leader who puts arms sales above the ethical and moral strictures of his professed religion.
Of course, that’s nothing new for Robertson who, like so many of his televangelist ilk, has built a billion-dollar empire on people’s gullibility and hopes.
Indeed, this is the season of Donald John Trump, of moral ambivalence, narcissism and hardness. Trump is the schoolyard bully writ large. Of course, that’s nothing new, there really were no ‘good old days’ devoid of backroom deals and bullies.
A lot of really nasty stuff was hidden by a gloss of civility. But in spite of our dark underbelly, we have made at least some progress toward social equity over the last 50 years. Our Indigenous populations are rising in stature and real, meaningful power.
We generally accept marriage among peoples of different cultures and ethnicities. Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims can break bread together and the LGBTQ community doesn’t have to live in fear of criminal prosecution. Women have reproductive rights and may have actually raised the ‘glass ceiling’ a fraction of an inch. But, you know, all that progress appears to be grinding to a halt and perhaps it may be at risk, entirely.
There are some pretty big lies being spread out there and sadly a whole lot of otherwise good people are buying into them without casting a jaundiced eye at their substance. Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show, made a very salient, between scenes, observation about the small “c” conservative backlash against the ‘#MeToo’ movement, a sentiment that was reinforced by Donald Trump when he announced, “It’s a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of.”
Noah points out that Trump has an uncanny ability to manipulate victimhood. No, it is not a scary time for young men, Donald; men are not the victims in this story. There are literally a handful of men in the world who have been spotlighted by ‘#MeToo’, but there are millions of women who have been victims of sexual abuse and discrimination.
Noah points out that, “If you can convince men that they are the true victims of the #MeToo movement, you get men to fight against a movement that’s really about holding men who are doing bad things accountable as opposed to making all men scapegoats for something that they’re not doing.”
It’s all about the agenda of a perverse form of nationalism, of spreading fear, separating people from the truth and each other, and convincing a large enough swath of the public that the figurehead is a friend, one of them and, above all, to be trusted.
This isn’t just about Trump, either, he is simply, hands down, the best example. We also witness exactly the same switching of victimhood in the plethora of anti-refugee lies that are so popular in the U.S. and Canada these days.
Refugees are the victims of grinding poverty, crime, war, rape, famine, starvation and death, but when the unscrupulous make the big switch … well, it is we who become the victims. We are told these people are not ‘real’ refugees, that they are queue jumpers, harbour criminals and terrorists in their midst, take our jobs, change our way of life, have different customs, and don’t share our values.
Wow, a pretty nasty lot, these refugees – except they are not. Not by a long shot. If you want a little primer, read Dr. Michael Ungar’s, Refugees Make Great Neighbors in Psychology Today, April 1, 2017.
No, refugees are productive, industrious and a net benefit to society. Are there criminals among them? Of course, but guess what, there were and are criminals among every wave of immigrants and refugees, and indeed among our very first European explorers and governors – just ask our Indigenous friends. People are people, saint to sinner, all.
So, Donald John Trump is going to mobilize the U.S. military to protect the most powerful nation in the world from a gaggle of impoverished refugees – a big show of iron fist determination for the midterms? Way to go, Donald.
Of course we have a similar and no less repulsive game being played in Canada by the likes of Doug Ford and a cadre of other right-of-centre Canadian politicians who also are stoking ridiculous fears about refugees and immigrants.
LGBTQ? Well, word has it that Trump is dabbling with legislation that will effectively wipe “transgender” from legal existence. If he gets away with it, rest assured, a push from the far-right in Canada will mean we won’t be far behind.
The victims this time are just people trying to figure out life and how they fit into it. They are not a danger or evil, they are just people.
And then, women, well, aren’t you an uppity lot who want to be paid the same as men; have a comfortable and safe work environment; you, who can’t put up with a little grab, slap and tickle.
Well, The Donald and his nudge, nudge cronies knows how to treat women when you are a rich, powerful, tough man – with five military deferments – like The Donald, who advises, “… you just grab ‘em by the … .”
So, my XX chromosome friends, when you hear some knuckle-dragging-whatever mock the #MeToo movement and it doesn’t make your blood boil, well, think again.
If you find yourself criticizing it, well, I don’t know how to help you apart from advising you to think again.