President Kong – By Uri Avnery

President Kong – By Uri Avnery

Posted 28 Jan. 2017. [Avnery is 94-years old in 2017]

I KNEW he reminded me of somebody, but I couldn’t quite place it. Who was it who pounded his chest with such

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

vigor?  And then I remembered. It was the hero of a movie that was produced when I was 10 years old: King Kong.

King Kong, the giant primate with the heart of gold, who scaled huge buildings and downed airplanes with his little finger.

Wow. President Kong, the mightiest being on earth.     

SOME OF us had hoped that Donald Trump would turn out to be quite a different person than his election persona. In an election campaign you say many kinds of inane things. To be forgotten the day after.

But the day after has come and gone, and the inane things have multiplied. The incredible Trump we believed didn’t really exist is here to stay – for four years, at least.

On his first day in office, we saw the absurd sight of two boys in the schoolyard arguing about who had the largest.

In this case, the largest inauguration crowd. He insisted that he had the greatest ever. As he should have expected, within minutes aerial photos appeared on TV, showing that Barack Obama’s crowd was far larger.

So did he apologize? On the contrary, he insisted.

A spokeswoman appeared and explained that this was just a case of “alternative facts”. A wonderful phrase. Pity I did not know it during my many years as a journalist. When I say at noon that it is midnight, it is just an alternative fact. (And is of course true – in Hawaii or somewhere.)

I HAVE a very limited understanding of economics. But just a small amount of simple logic tells me that Trump’s economic promises are baloney. One doesn’t “bring back jobs” by talk.

Manual jobs are lost because of automation. The German and British textile workers destroyed the machines that took their jobs away. That was some 300 years ago, and it did not help them. Now Trump looks a hundred years back, and wants things to revert.

A hundred years ago you needed a thousand workers to do the job done now by ten. This will remain so and intensify, even if you smash all the computers in the world.

Globalization is the spirit of the times. It is the natural outcome of a situation that allows me to react to Trump’s words within a few seconds of his uttering them. When I can fly around the world in much less than 80 hours.

Trump can do very little about this. He cannot bring back the “protectionist” policies of the 18th century. If he slaps punitive duties on imports from China, China will impose duties on imports from the USA. Already, this week, a trade war has broken out between the USA and Mexico.

CREDULOUS PEOPLE may believe such simplistic slogans. Which brings us to the problem of democracy.

I just read an article asserting that democracy is dead. Gone. Passé.

Winston Churchill famously said that democracy is a very bad system, but that all other systems tried until now are worse.

He also said that the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with an average voter.

Democracy could function when there was a sensible filter between the candidate and the people. A truthful press, an educated elite. Even in the Germany of 1933, with millions of jobless around, Adolf Hitler never did obtain a majority in free elections.

Now, with candidates addressing the voters directly through social media, all the filters are gone. So has Truth. The most atrocious lies travel through twitter and facebook in seconds, straight into the minds of millions, who have no capacity to judge them.

I think it was Joseph Goebbels who wrote that the bigger the lie, the more believable it is, since simple people cannot imagine that anybody would spread such a huge lie.

For example, the claim by President Trump that three million votes were stolen from him, thus causing him to lose the popular vote. No proof. Not even a shred of supporting evidence. Sheer nonsense, but many millions of ordinary people seem to believe it.

But if democracy is becoming obsolete, what is there to replace it? As Churchill intimated – there is no better system around.

SO THIS is the harvest of the first week in office: more packs of lies, or “alternative facts”, by the day.

What about the substantive issues?

If we believed that many of his policy promises were just election stuff, we were wrong. On issue after issue, Trump has started to faithfully fulfill his promises.

Abortion rights. Protection of the environment. Medical insurance. Taxes on the super-rich. All going down the Potomac.

This, too, is a sign of the modern age: the poorest vote for the richest, against their own most elementary interests. That is true in America as it is true in Israel.

AH, ISRAEL. Israel is occupied with endless speculation about Trump’s promise to relocate the USA embassy in Jerusalem.

One could have assumed that Israel has bigger troubles. There is the kind of civil war raging now between the government and the Arab minority, which constitutes some 21% of the citizens of Israel proper. There are casualties on both sides. And especially with the Bedouin (also in Israel proper) who volunteer for the army, but whose homes the government wants to destroy, to make place for Jewish settlers.

And the occupation of the West Bank. And the blockade of the Gaza Strip. And the multiple corruption investigations of the Prime Minister and his wife, and the possible giant bribes to relatives of Binyamin Netanyahu for the acquisition of submarines. And for bribing newspaper tycoons.

No, all these are bagatelles, compared to the location of the USA embassy.

The UN partition plan of 1947, which formed the legal basis for the State of Israel, did not include Jerusalem in Israeli territory. It provided for a Jewish and an Arab state in Palestine, with Jerusalem and Bethlehem as a separate enclave.

Israel, of course, annexed West Jerusalem soon after its foundation, but no foreign embassy moved there. They all remained in Tel Aviv, which is an uglier but much livelier city. They are all still there. Including the American embassy, which is located on Tel Aviv’s seashore, just opposite my window.

(In between, some South American banana republics did move to Jerusalem, but they soon moved back.)

In every American election, some candidate promises to move the embassy to Jerusalem, and every incoming president revokes the promise, once his experts tell him the facts of life.

Trump also promised. He, too, wanted to attract some Jewish votes, in addition to the one of his Jewish son-in-law. Trump probably thought: apart from these damn Jews, who cares?

Well, about 1.5 billion Muslims around the world care. And care a lot.

If Trump knew anything, he would be aware of the fact that in the very early days of Islam, the Qibla (direction of prayer) was Jerusalem, before it was moved to Mecca. East Jerusalem is the third holiest site in Islam. Recognizing the whole of Jerusalem Including East Jerusalem as the capital of Israel could lead to unthinkable violence against USA installations from Indonesia to Morocco.

It seems that by now the experts have told Trump too, because he has begun to stutter about this issue. He is thinking about it. He needs time. Perhaps later. Perhaps the new USA ambassador, a fervent right-wing Zionist, will go to live in Jerusalem, while the embassy remains in Tel Aviv.

Poor man. He will have to travel daily from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, a road almost always blocked by traffic jams. But everyone has to suffer for his convictions.

BUT THE real sad fact is that in every single speech since the inauguration, the main theme – indeed, almost the only theme – of President Donald Trump is I – I – I.

I – I – I with a lot of chest thumping.

Look out for the movie – King Kong II.

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Comments

  • Clyde Duncan  On February 3, 2017 at 1:00 am

    Opinion: Trump Is No Hitler, BUT…

    The upshot of Trumpism, as ordinary citizens are beginning to understand, is that as long as you fall in line with the dictate from above, you can do anything.

    Nitzan Horowitz | Haaretz

    Since the U.S.A. election campaign commenced, I have had a disagreement with some colleagues, Israeli and American, about who would stop whom – the establishment or Trump. My colleagues asserted during the primaries that the mainstream politicians on the right would not let him reach the top of the Republican Party, but he defeated all 16 of his rivals and won the presidential nomination.

    After that, they maintained that the financial and media elites would prevent Trump from winning the election.

    Now, predictions (hopes) are being raised that the state establishment, with its enormous reach, security apparatus and court system, will put the brakes on the president, perhaps even depose him.

    It is baseless. History teaches us that establishments tend to fall into ranks behind the commander, and not the other way around. It isn’t necessary to replace the people doing their jobs. They turn into loyal servants of the new regime.

    In his book, “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin,” historian Eric Larson provides an illustrative example about the way enormously powerful systems accept the whims of a new regime.

    The hero of the book is William Dodd, who arrived in Berlin as U.S.A. ambassador after the rise of Hitler. The man was not a career diplomat nor a part of the government bureaucracy. He was a modest history professor, which allowed him to examine the upheavals in Germany with his eyes wide open.

    Let it be clear: Trump is no Hitler, and the United States of America of 2017 is NOT Germany of 1933.

    However, it is precisely the huge difference that helps emphasize the critical point of establishment volatility. The American ambassador provided first-hand testimony of the enormous speed with which German society underwent “unification” or “standardization” (“Gleichschaltung”) in fealty to the new regime.

    Dodd described in his letters to President Roosevelt and to the State Department how the court system and police enthusiastically obeyed the new orders.

    Teachers, shop owners and bureaucrats did not need formal rules. They thirsted to join the party. Police turned a blind eye when Nazi thugs assaulted Jews, and often joined in.

    University professors took the initiative to harass students, and bureaucrats at all levels flooded top officials with suggestions to make persecution campaigns more efficient. The heart of the book, in my eyes, is the piercing description of how society changed. Ordinary citizens embrace the new spirit. The giant machinery of state becomes unrecognizable in a matter of months.

    If that is what happened to the German establishment in the face of Nazi rule and ideology, which was so radical, it is hard to see the foundation for thinking that the American establishment will stop someone like Trump, who is not at all in that category.

    And why should they stop him? Trump was legally elected, and more importantly some of his steps are based on what already exists, from the establishment’s perspective.

    When he declared that torture is effective, he referred to the American practice of torturing detainees. When he promised to build a wall on the border with Mexico – there is already one there that is hundreds of kilometers long. I saw it when it was being built in the previous decade. Deporting illegal immigrants? 2.5 million (!) were deported under President Obama. The American establishment will not stop Trump, because it is already doing his work.

    The upshot of Trumpism, as ordinary citizens are beginning to understand, is that as long as you fall in line with the dictate from above, you can do anything. Thus, the number of racist incidents in the United States has surged since Trump’s victory.

    How great of an effort will the establishment – the police or education system, for example – make to stop this? The answer is bleak:

    It is impossible to rely on the keepers of the American system to handle matters – Civil society will be forced to manage the struggle.

    As it turned out, all the requests and pleas from the U.S.A. ambassador in Berlin for an aggressive American response to the harassment of Jews were in vain.

    In the end, it was explained to him that such an intervention would turn the spotlight on discrimination against blacks in the United States of America.

    So, they kept silent.

  • Clyde Duncan  On February 3, 2017 at 1:03 am

    One of the American Veterans of the last World War was asked, ‘How could we have prevented this?’

    He answered: “Don’t be a bystander!”

  • demerwater  On February 3, 2017 at 4:22 am

    Here is what I wrote elsewhere.

    Why elected Representatives do not keep campaign promises.

    Because “Elections have consequences … and casualties!”
    Because “Governing is different from Campaigning!”
    Because “Campaigning is like being ‘outside the tent pissing in’; while Governing is like being ‘inside the tent pissing … oneself!’ (with apologies to LBJ.)

    A person might be forgiven for not comprehending the contents of the 2700 pages of the ACA. (S)He might be excused for promising to repeal it on day one.

    On day one, the counsel of experts, the wool of SPINsters and personal hindsight can all combine to persuade the Incompetent (sorry! the Incumbent) to walk back the promise. But if ego and narcissism get in the way, then there is distraction, doubling down and obfuscation – converging into chaos.

    Sometimes I wish political ‘leaders’ will answer the question posed to military leaders.
    “I will follow you there; but can you bring me back safely if it does not work out?”

    I have had cause to admire the ‘flip-flop’ – Charlie Crist is a memorable example – because it can reflect introspective thought, reconsideration in the light of new information; and things like that.
    I remember too well the slow motion analysis of a decision – to cross the road. Be receptive to new relevant information; and be prepared to react. Sometimes this will mean turning back.

  • Gigi  On February 3, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    For the sake of facts, perhaps the ‘average worker’ has gotten a whole lot smarter in the past 8 years. Eight years of solid practical education can turn an ‘average worker’ into an ‘educated but still average worker’. So these whole lotta now ‘educated but average workers’ have deduced that they are no longer the dumb f***s they were 4 to 8 years ago. All chatter aside, that is the bigger statement.
    But the ‘average worker’ who was not at the inauguration likely remembered G.W Jr’s saying, ‘fool me once shame on you, fool me twice you can’t fool me again. Or even Einsteins’ definition of stupidity. Lest we forget, since Demerwater brought it up, like Charlie Christ and many other flip flopping politicians (the nature of politics), Trump was a democrat turned republican. And his antics are very much representative of democrats. More so since he was not born into ‘uncle tom’ or the ‘servile woman’ status. The people who voted for Trump did not vote for him based on his policies. Theirs was a vote of sticking it to the elites concerned with their image and fearful of it being exposed. The more obnoxious Trump acts, the more he fulfills his voter deepest desire – exposing the putrid ugliness of American society. King Kong II indeed!

  • demerwater  On February 4, 2017 at 2:23 am

    The image of Jan Carew addressing a small crowd, just outside the linear limit laid down by the Sugar Producers Association; a limit on political speech within the geographical (and sanitized!) area of the Uitvlugt Community Centre.
    “There would have been a Cheddie Jagan _anyway!”
    Those were his words in the context of a circumscribed environment.
    He proceeded to develop his point – that leaders arise out of the needy circumstances of the people whom they proceed to lead.
    My experience substantiates his cryptic statement. (cf. Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple).
    M K Gandhi, W L Churchill, C B Jagan, F S Burnham, K (Sorry! Couldn’t find a M I) Nkrumah.
    I am sure that you can add to the list – right up to acronyms like NAM, OAU, OAS!
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwame_Nkrumah
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-Aligned_Movement
    http://www.cfr.org/venezuela/venezuelas-hugo-chavez-oas/p23846
    And here, let me acknowledge the words of wisdom of my ‘puppy love’.
    “When you are young, things appear as black and white only. As you mature, you will see that there are shades of grey”.
    https://www.google.com/#q=puppy+love+definition

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