Distractions


‘You know what the most watched picture was last week, indeed maybe the whole past year,’ Camp asked as he sat down. No comment about the weather, book sales or married life with Muriel.

‘Probably the one about Greta Thunberg sailing past the Statue of Liberty or the one about the fires at the Saudi oil refinery or maybe Trumps map of Hurricane Dorian in Alabama.’

‘Nope, none of the above. It’s Aladdin.’

‘Really, our PM as a black faced Aladdin some two decades ago?’

‘That’s right. Not that Disney needs any free promo on their latest version.

The unforgiving demands for a flawless lifestyle with retrospective lenses doesn’t apply to the Putins, the Trumps and the Orbans but more often than not they are focused on those who engage themselves for gender equality and social improvements like Trudeau,’ Camp said.

‘Even though he is a privileged, spoiled, gentrified dand, he is at least somewhat awake and aware,’ I lamely offered.

‘As we all know, morality standards are changing and shifting and what seemed impossible yesterday is today’s expression of individual freedom and what was only tasteless two decades ago can implode careers today. Yes, it’s a win for tolerance and civilisation that ‘blackfacing’ and minstrels are out of fashion and even white performers of Othello don’t wear black makeup any longer. Of course we expect a perfect social and moral compass from our leaders, but Trudeau didn’t attack a foreign country or rape anybody, he just showed poor judgement eighteen years ago,’ Camp said, pausing to take a large swallow from his pint.

‘It’s such a distraction and he did apologize and show remorse. Maybe he can turn this around and start a real conversation about our prejudices, but what it will surely do is narrow the range of future leaders. Who doesn’t have an embarrassing moment or a misunderstood situation in their past and who wants to put their life under the public microscope?’

‘You’re right about both points. Democracy is a harsh mistress and we’re easily and willingly distracted. We lap it up like milk and honey and the media has a feast day with embarrassing images and gaffes of our politicians, almost gleefully so,’ Camp conceded.

‘You know Camp, even today in Switzerland a chocolate covered marshmallow treat is called a Mohrenkopf – a Moors head – and in Germany they call it a Negerkuss – a Negro kiss,’ I said.

‘Racist candy,’ Camp said and just shook his head in disbelief.

We took a swallow to wash down some of the bad taste that image evoked.

‘And now we have the impeachment circus starting in Washington,’ I said.

‘Yes, and we all know that it’s not about if Trump is guilty – which he is – but they need two thirds of republican senators to vote for his removal from office. Pelosi knows how disastrous Clintons’s impeachment process was for the democrats.’

‘Even more reason to want to be distracted,’ I said. ‘We don’t always want to think about, Trump, the climate emergency, the burning Amazon, the hurricanes or god forbid such conversation killers as the stealthy Chinese invasion or the rise of fascism. We’d much rather talk about sports, and travelling, food and the latest diet trend, movies and Netflix series.’

‘I suppose you’re right. Not a lot of laughs around the climate change table. Which brings me to the book I want to promote today. Naomi Klein’s collections of essays called: On Fire. It’s a powerful clarion call to action, well timed with the millions of school kids around the world striking not for a better future but for a liveable future.’ Camp said.

‘Everywhere – except in China – the kids were marching and demonstrating.  I heard Naomi in an interview where she describes the building of walls and the rise of nationalism as being part of a desperate fortress mentality, which is in itself a climate change response. It leads in the denial of entry to our countries to thousands of people who are fleeing floods, fires, draughts and ensuing warfare. She calls it climate barbarism which means we tolerate and are culpable in the displacement and even death of the planet’s desperate and desolate peoples.’

‘She also calls for a Green New Deal, similar to the Marshall Plan, as the only way forward,’ Camp pointed out. ‘Maybe enough young people will force the issue on the politicians, which is something they should talk about in earnest during this election. What we need is a radical re-tooling and re-thinking of our tenuous relationship with mother nature. Until now it’s been use and abuse, extraction, construction and destruction. What we need for 8 billion people to have a chance, not just for survival but a liveable future, are sustainable systems, international co-operation and political will for immediate change.’

‘We do have the science,’ I said. ‘But instead of substance and solutions we get distractions like costumes and photo ops. Fluff and bluster, smoke and mirrors.’

‘You two seem distracted,’ Rosie, our server this Thursday, pointed out.

‘Well no, we’re just a bit concerned about the way this election is shaping up,’ Camp said.

‘What election? Oh, you mean Aladdin against the insurance salesman? I think I’ll sit this one out. Nothing will change, that much is guaranteed. Ready for another round?’

‘Always ready for another beer. It’s the only stable component in an otherwise shaky existence,’ Camp said.

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