“It’s been a crazy few days; that is if you watch TV or read the papers. First it was the ludicrous spectre of nuclear conflict, promoted by the evil troll in Pyongyang and Darth Vader in the White House and now we have seen the worst of Trump in the aftermath of the Neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville.”
Campbell or Camp for short, had barely sat down at our usual table in the corner on the patio, under the TV, when I assaulted him with this barrage. He held up two fingers for Vicky, the waitress who was well versed in the pub’s universal sign language.
“As you know,” Camp said, “I don’t have a TV and only read the papers sporadically but I do get my news from my customers, if there are any, and from the all-knowing world-wide-web. The consensus is unanimously that the Nasty Leader in Washington has now shown his true self to the whole world, which should not come as a surprise to anybody. He’s always been a racist – remember the birther witch hunt – and he’s always been a bigot and a misogynist and as we all knew that he is basically a white supremacist. None of that is new, it’s just that he is now the president of the USA.”
“The president is supposed to be the moral compass of the nation, especially in times of domestic trouble,” I said. “Obama always stepped up and tried to heal the wounds inflicted by murder and terror.” Vicky dropped off a couple of pints, which remained uncharacteristically untouched since both of us were quite upset, as were most sane people.
“Remember, he has been elected by a majority of white people, two thirds of white males and over half of all white women voted for him. They supported a blatant racist and they should all take a hard look at themselves and ask: Is this really the man I wanted for my president?” Camp said.
“Do you really think that will happen? And what will the next three years look like? There doesn’t seem a week goes by without a dramatic and potentially dangerous wobble at the top of the pyramid which is the American government structure.”
“Maybe it’s more like a volcano, about to blow.”
On that note we both took a tentative sip from our beers, which were in danger of going flat. That in itself was a measure of our common distress.
It was Michelle Obama who said: Being president doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are, I said.
“And it’s Trump who said that there are some very nice people in the Nazi/ Alt Right rally in Charlottesville, shouting ‘blood and soil’, waving swastikas and yelling Trump heil’. Hard to believe,” I said.
“Anybody who was part of that march of hate is definitely not a nice person and anybody who supports and votes for a racist is also a racist. There is no ambiguity there,” Camp said “ and whoever does not recognize the pure evil and hatred in these ultra-right fanatics has no sense of history, justice and place,” he added, shaking his head full of grey bristles in dismay.
“There seems to be a lot of young, white males who are attracted to these noxious hate groups, influenced by a myriad of racist and conspiracy sites on the web, which speaks volumes about their collective void of moral guidance,” I said, feeling rather depressed and somewhat at a loss but I could not ignore all this theatre of the absurd and bizarre that is filling the airwaves and news print.
“Maybe you should not watch any more TV news if it distresses you like that, it’s not healthy and there is very little you can do about it,” Clare, always the wise voice, advised me.
“But I cannot ignore it and stick my head in the sand,” I protested.
“I’m not asking you to ignore it, just take a step back and don’t take it so personal. For example, Trump does not rule my garden and he is certainly not my moral compass gone haywire. I cannot give that charlatan the time of day and will instead concentrate on the good I can do in my little corner of the world.”
I sort of related that much to Camp who embarked on one of his diatribes. “Clare of course has a point and maybe we should all just concentrate on our sphere of influence and make sure that the young people we come in touch with either as teachers, parents, politicians or shop keepers, like myself, know that they’re loved and respected. The antidote to hate and fear is compassion and nurture but of course our first instinct is punishment and retribution. A lot of these young Nazis are lost and abandoned by their parents, their leaders and elders and society as a whole. Tolerance, equality and understanding are virtues that need to be taught and led by example. Sadly, Trump is a despicable example and he is the enemy of decent, educated and compassionate people and he can only lead his flock into realms of fear and hatred.”
“When we were young, a lot of lost souls were gathered in by fake gurus and brainwashers but mostly under the guise of love and control, usually to further their own material wellbeing in this world in exchange for lofty rewards in the next one. Skinheads and punks were the antidote to these movements.”
“But they were only the lunatic fringe, never embraced by a racist president and 60 million people who voted for him. That is the difference. One can only hope that this is a watershed moment that makes people take another look at themselves, their neighbours, and the dubious leaders they elected.”
““Let’s drink to the common good people and to a bright future full of peace and love,” I suggested, trying to rally some positive energy.
“Always the optimist,” Camp said, raising his glass.
“A pessimist with a positive outlook,” I countered.