by David Platzer (April 2019)
The Newspaper, Aldo Luongo
There is no doubt that Donald Trump, the USA’s forty-fifth President is almost universally deplored and attacked without relief by the world’s chattering classes. He is reviled as a fascist as least as bad as Hitler, a racist and what used to be called a sexist but is now termed, incorrectly, a misogynist. It helps many of the chatterers, many of whom have graduated from mere chat to loud shouts, have only vague notions of what they are accusing Trump of. They know, presumably of watching Steven Spielberg films rather than reading history books, that Hitler and Fascism were nasty things. The fact that one of the clearest aspects of Fascism in the economic sense is its enforcement of economic and social regimentation, such as many of today’s left call for appears unknown to the shouters, almost of whom are on the left. If Trump were a Fascist dictator in the sense of squashing free speech and burning books, would his enemies be so vociferous in denying him on network and cable television, the media and on Facebook? Insulting Trump is an easy and safe way of masquerading as a freedom fighter without paying any of the risks that genuine Resisters faced during the Second World War or against Communism during the Cold War.
The real danger to free speech as well as the banning of books in the United States and in much of Europe comes from the left. Racism has become a catch-all word for anyone so wicked as to defend the white race and especially the male half of it. Trump, who once hoped to persuade Oprah Winfrey to be his vice-presidential mate is anti-black if he refuses to denounce the entire white race to which he belongs with cheap shots. For much of my life, I thought a misogynist was a term describing a mildly comical figure who, without necessarily being homosexual, finds women a nuisance rather than a delight so steers clear of marriage. Sherlock Holmes was a misogynist in that sense. A misogynist is unlikely to try and take advantage of women in the way the Donald has been accused of ever since he made a few laddish jokes that incited many women, long on earnestness and short of knowledge of the way many men talk in locker rooms, to don pussy cap demonstrations, rumoured to be paid for by Mr George Soros. It is indicative that in France there were no such events. This, despite the fact that many of French citizens are inclined to get on the street and demonstrate at the slightest provocation or even without it. But then Frenchwomen tend to be at ease with their femininity and know how to distinguish juvenile quips from an ageing tom-cat from a genuine wolf. It should be said that most women in America are obviously as sensible and level-headed as are their cousins in France, given that Trump’s popularity among women in the United States matches that among men if not surpasses it.
It is all true that this opprobrium heaped on him is only a more intense version of the mud that is almost invariably slung at any Republican president in the United States. Even Dwight Eisenhower, America’s Ike, a hero whom had commanded the Allied forces in Europe during the Second World War, did not entirely escape. There was little could be said against of him, other than he failed to support Britain, France and Israel over Suez. The USA of the Fifties was as close to paradise with everyone fairly well off and those who were very much so maintaining a becoming discretion about it. Nevertheless, the intellectuals of the day did grumble and blamed it on Ike as if the resulting complacency was his fault. There were too termites on the woodwork, evidence of what was to come, in the products of the Actors’ Studio with their plaid shirts, blue jeans and their insistence on mumbling rather than speaking clearly, the Beat Generation with their drugs, soft and hard, and, though the first ‘Me Generation’ was still two decades away, the general craze for psycho-analysis. Even so, one had to be grumpy indeed not to like Ike.
Not so, Eisenhower’s vice-president and would-be his successor Richard Nixon. Nixon had the unfortunate trait of appearing to be lying even when he was telling the truth. Worse still, his adversary in 1960 was John F Kennedy. Not only was Kennedy charming, bookish and educated, but he, or at least his family’s ‘machine’, was also ruthless without appearing to be. He told his wife that she must read David Cecil’s two-volume of Lord Melbourne to understand him and there was something of an early nineteenth-century Whig about Kennedy. It is easy to see why he got on so well with descendants of the great Whig magnates like the then-Duke of Devonshire. In contrast to Nixon, the kind of man who looked as if he was lying even when he telling the truth, it hardly mattered if Kennedy was lying or not. Though Nixon had much more experience than Kennedy, he had no chance of competing with Kennedy’s youthful vigour and vim, concealing chronically ill health that left poor Kennedy in constant pain. Left to his own and free from his nouveau riche bootlegging father, determined to sacrifice sons on the altar of his own ambition, Kennedy might have had a happier and safer life, indolently reading Byron and Fleming, writing minor historical works leading the urbane life Hugh Hefner extolled in his Playboy.
Nixon, though only a few years older than Kennedy, gave the impression of being born middle-aged. The press was more balanced in America than it is now and prized objectivity in a way it no longer does. Still, even for journalists and pundits inclined to the right, Nixon was a hard sell against the dashing Kennedy. He was not only a Republican but, unlike earlier Republicans, many of whom had been reassuringly patrician, he was not merely patently common but also peculiarly charmless with his five o’clock shadow at any hour of the day, his habit of nervously sweating under the lights and his thick pompous voice. It says a lot for Nixon’s determination that he did make it to the White House, added by the assassinations of not just one but two Kennedys and the arrant incompetence shown by Kennedy’s ‘best and brightest’ team, every one of them, straight out of Graham Greene’s ‘Quiet American,’ in mishandling the Vietnam War and turning to a disaster America that lacked the experience to put into perspective. From the first day Nixon was in the Oval Office, he showed himself disturbingly competent, doing things that Democrats wanted to do but had not dared—whether it was breaking the ice with China or effectively ending the anti-war movement by halting conscription (the draft). The period of the late Sixties and the early Seventies was almost as rife in divisiveness as today’s is. It was a time of demonstrations, widespread drug use, rock music and of free love. ‘Revolutionaries’ shouted ‘Fascist Pig’ together with bad language at anyone with whom they disagreed. It mattered not that most of the despised older generation accused of being fascists of a porcine nature, had themselves been risking their lives less than thirty years before in a world war against genuine Fascists in Europe. The peace and love revolutionaries are the foregoers of today’s Identity activists. A difference is that the former had much more fun, no matter how short-term with their ‘dope, sex and rock’ than the solemn young of today seem to enjoy. They were more sophisticated than the young of today are. They had been brought up in the civilisation they were out to destroy. They knew that their barrack-room language was offensive, unlike today’s younger generation who have been raised to talk in that crude way from early childhood.
We all know about Nixon’s downfall at Watergate. His vice-president, Gerald Ford, was so inoffensive and unobtrusive that even a Democrat could hardly hate him. Not so Ronald Reagan. Still, Reagan, as charming as Nixon sinister, had to be handled in a different way. The establishment media portrayed him, with his help, as no more than a trigger-happy cowboy actor so simple-minded that he could not distinguish the real world from the films he had once acted in. It is one thing for Hollywood liberals to take their screen fantasies straight and quite another for an Old Hollywood survivor to chat endless of the days when he worked with Errol Flynn and flirted with Olivia de Haviland. The joke was on Reagan’s enemies. Reagan knew exactly what he was doing in playing the old duffer. He knew too that Democrats and Soviet commissars were too earnestly po-faced to have the faintest idea of what he was doing. He told the Soviets that he was ready to blow the world up to teach them a lesson and got them into an expensive arms race that led them to go broke by the end of the decade, effectively putting an end of the Cold War after wasted years of pointless negotiations.
Reagan understood—just as Trump does—that an American president’s greatest strength is a mixture of common sense out of Mark Twain and a bit of sabre-rattling, the better to preserve the world’s peace. He was easily the most popular US president since Kennedy and far more competent. No wonder every self-righteous do-gooder worthy of the name hated him just as they do the blessed Donald now.
No one seems to remember now that George W Bush was also cast as a fascist and as much of a danger to everything reassuring in the world as Trump is now. In parentheses, it can be said that it does not say much for American education that most of the population seems unaware that the country’s checks and balances effectively prevents any president, however self-willed, from being a dictator. For the first eight years of the new century, Bush, bumbling and incompetent as he was, was feared and hated. I lived in the Paris region during the first decade of the new century. At dinner parties one kept hearing condemnations of Bush, the archetypical Ugly American who, to be fair, had lead his country and her allies into a quagmire of a war. Though most of the French people I saw were politically solidly on the right, almost none dared to speak favourably of Bush. The one exception was Bernard Collin, an engaging dilettante. Whether from a contrary nature or from genuine belief, Bernard was fond of saying that he adored Bush. Once, however, I heard him say that it was not so much that he loved Bush so much as that he disliked people who hated Bush more than he hated Bush.
I see what he meant. There is a kind of knee-jerk hatred of some political leaders that is so automatic that one wonders if people who hate them hate them less from knowledge than from being told they ought to hate them. People know they must hate Trump just as they knew they had to love Obama, but do they really know much about either of these men? The ‘lean and hungry’ Obama, who kept a picture of Gandhi in his office to bring out and flash when people like Joan Baez entered the room was considered a man of peace, despite the fact that he was bombing seven countries on a daily basis. It takes a Democrat to ravage a village and convince the world he is making it a better place for it. Trump is considered a man of war but is practical enough to ask a general if there is any use of staying in Afghanistan when, after seventeen years, not as a single battle has been won. Trump may, with his dyed hair, look like an ageing game-show host but in most respects he is the boy who dared to shout that the globalist Emperor is wearing no clothes come to life. He is the opposite in every way from his predecessor, globalism’s poster boy. At the time Trump replaced Obama, Facebook was dotted with posts featuring Obama and reading ‘Don’t you miss him now?’. If only he and his wife would allow us to! Obama was far more the potential dictator with his ways of altering constitutional laws than Trump for all his rallies and tweets could ever be. For that matter, Trump’s rallies stem less from anything inspired by Hitler than from his knowledge that they are the only way of reaching directly his fellow Americans without the distortion of the media’s lens.
Read more in New English Review:
• A Colorful Plastic Blow-Up Parrot Isn’t a Pencil Sharpener
• Why Donald Trump is an Existential Threat to the Managerial State
• December Song: The Idea of Poetry in a Secularizing Society
All the frauds that Obama and his colleagues in Brussels and in Davos have attempted to foist on their various peoples from on high rather in the way of Blofeld’s Spectre, has been exposed by Trump. He is the man who refuses to play the game that George Soros, the IMF and New York Times have ordained for the USA; he is a practical businessman who is loath to accept a losing proposition. He is fighting his country’s corner. Obama’s Iran Deal, strongly supported by the European Union as a means of peace is nothing of the kind, given that it has allowed Iran to build a bomb capable not only of reaching Israel (an event that might be please many on the left in Europe) but also Europe itself. Trump has pulled out of that just as he has pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, an ineffective sop to the environmental lobby that was denounced by most among the shouters for ecology as a sham. A lot has changed since NATO was created. Then, not only was the Soviet Union–which was already holding Eastern Europe –a real and present danger to the West but, because America was the wealthy victor it was obliged to help her allies who had been impoverished by the war. These once devastated countries have since fully recovered from that war and American generosity/gifting of support is no longer viable nor necessary. President Trump sees no reason why the US’s allies cannot pay their NATO share. He has dared to call himself a nationalist, not in the sense of trampling other nations but in standing for his own. He is out to Make America Great Again. By the same token, he challenges other ‘leaders’ most of whom are incapable of leading anything other to the nearest gravy train, to make their countries great again rather than burying them in mirages like European Unions. When France’s would-be Jupiter of a president condemned Trump for his nationalism and announced that he and Germany’s Angela Merkel were seeking to create a European army ready to fight the United States as well as Russia and China if necessary, Trump reminded him that Europe owes something to the United States for its present freedom. More than that, Trump suggested to his friend Emmanuel that, rather than playing at being Napoleon in Brussels, he should be working to make troubled France great again. In rather the same way, Trump, a believer in Britain and in Brexit, did not hesitate to dismiss Theresa May’s hopeless Brexit deal as something great for the EU and a disaster for Britain which would have been castrated for decades had it been accepted. A great deal for the EU, not so good for the UK, was his frank appraisal of Mrs May’s recently failed deal.
It is always impossible to guess the future of any leader—more so in this volatile period. Mainstream celebrities, film and pop stars, late-night chat shows’ hosts and ‘comics’ in America call openly for the president’s assassination while political opponents boast that they will soon be able to impeach him. His extraordinary economic success may not last. Nevertheless, Trump has changed the game, much to the horror of the world’s chattering classes. Crude as he is, he has expressed the concerns of ordinary people and not only in the United States. He may be an unlikely David to challenge the globalist Goliath that threatens Western Civilisation—but he is the only one we have.
David Platzer is a belated Twenties Dandy-Aesthete with a strong satirical turn, a disciple of Harold Acton and the Sitwells whose writing has appeared in the New Criterion, the British Art Journal, the Catholic Herald, Apollo, and more.
Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast