Blame Ourselves Because We Are at Fault for Trump’s Remarks

The straw that broke the camel’s back … After denouncing a nation, inciting hatred against members of a religion, insulting war heroes, going after a former beauty pageant contest, to name but a few ‘incidents,’ it took off-mic remarks made over 10 years ago to finally put air-brakes on the Trump juggernaut. While dismissed as mere ‘locker-room talk’ by the Teflon Don, Trump’s lewd expressions about women seemed to have struck a raw nerve, one that wasn’t pierced by his many other provocative statements.

At a political level, the fall-out has been fairly radioactive for Trump. He has obfuscated the issue somewhat by pointing to Bill Clinton’s personal life implying that he is something of an altar boy in comparison to his opponent’s spouse. Nonetheless, it does seem that for once, Trump is on the ropes, even amongst his own supporters, and that is the likely reason why he apologized (these statements don’t materialize spontaneously, but are drafted after consultation with focus groups).

So, why did Trump say what he said? For many, the reason why Trump would boast about walking in on naked beauties, or partaking in intimate gossip about his daughter in the company of a radio shock-jock, or pine about not banging a woman who is spoken for, is obvious. Trump is a bad egg. He’s a misogynist, he’s a perv, juvenile, he embodies all the very worst predatory instincts of the alpha male.

Granted, the stuff about moving-in on his daughter (if she weren’t his daughter) is fairly nauseating, to say the least. But the fact is that many men – in America and beyond – do engage in conversations that are similar to those between Trump and Billy Bush or Howard Stern. And while it’s called ‘locker-room’ talk, it’s not confined to the locker-room. It manifests in workplaces, in social gatherings, even amongst men who are strangers to one another waiting for public transport. From a young age, men learn that women are there to be conquered, the more women or more beautiful women that are conquered the better, and of course the story of one’s conquests or failures have to be analysed in the company of other men (if you’re famous, you can get your stories published and monetized). Discussing one’s daughter in such conversations is generally considered grotesque but musing on exploits with a one-night stand, one’s girlfriend or perhaps even wife (or musing on their respective shortcomings) is considered acceptable.

So, there is a widespread culture and it is likely that Trump’s real ‘sin’ was being caught engaging in such discussions with celebrities. After all, celebrities aren’t renowned for being discreet.

So, now that we’ve established that Trump is part of a culture, the question: “why did Trump boast or discuss X,Y,Z unacceptable things about women?” possibly has a different answer. He offered his lewd and disgusting opinions on women because those opinions are considered respectable and even normal. They are part of a culture that he is integrated into. For him not to do so may be labelled as ‘anti-social.’

Now, while Hilary may say that she hates derogatory comments about women, she doesn’t seem to disassociate herself from rappers who make offensive statements about the fairer sex. Ja Rule and Snoop Dogg have offered their support. And here are lyrics from another Hilary supporter, 50 cent:

Yeah, the first time I seen her son I knew she was the shit (uh-huh)
I seen her in the V.I.P. chillin with her clique (yeah)
She hot mayne, I watched her (c’mon)
I like her style
She don’t know what I’m thinkin when I’m starin at her lips
In my imagination I can see her suck the dick (yeah!)
I like that, I want that
We could do it right now
Just a minute of your time, let me talk to ya love
I wan’ get to know you, maybe I can call you up
Then we can chit-chat ’til you let me hit that
I’ll get deep ’til I hit the back of your kit-kat
You’re not a freak but you’ll be one when I’m done (yeah)
It’s anytime, anyplace with me hon
I’m sexual, when I’m next to you
I’m a horny dog … (London Girl)

These are not just private, braggadocio, macho, remarks. These words are manufactured, packaged, and sold across the US, often in the face of many ‘conservatives’ who are opponents of Hilary and who long for some form of censorship (in fact it was Hilary’s companion in the White House from 1992-2000, Tipper Gore, who pioneered a form of censorship on music after hearing a Prince song about masturbating). While the style of the particular song I’ve chosen is that of the black community in America, similar sexist ejaculations are common amongst all sectors of US society.

Yet, Trump has now become the classic scapegoat. The pus and scabs of the permissive society can be transferred onto his shoulders. He is being portrayed as a Frankenstein, who is out of control, who needs to be muzzled, who has to be resisted. And in a way, Trump is a Frankenstein. He is something that we have all made. A vast majority of men are not religiously sectarian, or racist, or would even feel no sympathy for someone who died in a battle, or would bully a woman with eating problems. So we may not have made him in that sense. But a majority – in my experience – would ‘swap notes’ when it comes to the fairer sex, and if recorded on tape, might be recorded saying similar things to Trump. This is prevalent and creates a demand, a market. I’ve already mentioned the success of rap music. Look at other industries … the porn industry, whose profits are skyrocketing, the so-called beauty industry (that refers exclusivelt to physical beauty, not other manifestations of female beauty), even erotic literature which is also an expanding business. In all of these, women fulfil a certain role. It is a role that is the complete opposite of the tender-motherly and sweet-sisterly roles they used to play. They are expected to be manicured, plucked, glossed, and shrunk to size, for the benefit of our pleasure. They are rated, they are commodities for male consumption.

Trump has a lot of maverick ideas and opinions. But his locker-room talk is very far from unusual. Perhaps that is why it is offensive. It’s too close to reality.

Dogs, Bites, Barks, and the US Elections

 

Clinton or Trump?

Trump’s bark is worse than his bite.

The Don has a habit of making grand pronouncements, then ‘backtracking,’ modifying his position, or maneouvering.

Hilary’s bite is worse than her bark.

She looks like the nicey-nice, syrupy smooth, school-mistress. But her emails show her to be cunning and conniving. Hilary can destroy a country (especially a poor and weak one) with a press of the ‘send message’ on her email provider.

So the question is: who, at the end of the day, has the worst bite?

 

Rudy-Don: “All’s Fair in Love and War”

Over the weekend, Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani caught the attention of the public by essentially advocating plunder. The invasion of Iraq was a poor foreign policy decision, they said. But once the decision had been made, Trump insisted, the US should have taken Iraqi oil for its own benefit. This was how it used to be done, Trump went on. Giuliani modified this position. Iraqi oil, Giuliani suggested, should have been ‘controlled’ because this would have prevented the rise of ISIS (such a moot and incoherent point, I won’t even go there). As if that weren’t enough to stir a public relations hornets nest, Giuliani mused that “anything is legal” in war.

You know though: Trump and Giuliani put their finger on something. Example: two armies go to war. Let’s say two enemy combatants meet each other on an urban street. They can do things to each other – killing the obvious act – and use their surrounding environment in ways that would be illegal normally. There still remain ‘rules’ of war. A city can’t be razed to the ground. A wounded soldier must receive medical aid. These are merely courtesies, however. Soldiers and their superiors will do anything to win wars. Cities do get razed. Wounded soldiers are shot in cold blood. Those facts are as true for the US as much as for leaders like Saddam.

Plunder too is considered unseemly in modern warfare. But yet, Iraqs wealth was plundered through the oil for food programme that followed the 1990-1991 conflict when Iraq was sanctioned. These were very punitive sanctions for an invasion of Kuwait, an invasion that had a casus belli (cause of war). The casus belli was that Kuwait had called in many of its loans that it had made to Iraq during the war with Iran. Saddam had some justification in annexing a neighbour who had posed an existential threat to the integrity of Iraq. He was treated unjustly, in any event. Look at how much territory Israel has annexed or laid claim to since 1948 yet it has never faced sanctions for disrupting the peace, despite the flimsy reasons for some of its land seizures. And, furthermore, after the Iraq war, the wealth of the tragic Gulf nation was controlled by the US. So Trump and Giuliani are kinda endorsing the policies that were followed. It seems like they either haven’t read any books on Iraq or bolstering a widespread opinion that the US is continually being ‘ripped-off’ by sly foreigners.

How about the general claim that everything is legal in war? Was this the way things used to be? Yes and no. It really came down to how different the warring armies were in cultural, religious and political terms. When the Crusaders first invaded the Mid-East, there was a lot of plunder and blood spilt. As the two sides became acquainted with each other – the Crusaders thinking of the Levant as home – some semblance of order governed wars.

Wars between two sides long ago could be as gentlemanly or as brutal as their differences allowed. There were no international rules of war but it wasn’t total anarchy all of the time. Yet, some wars could have humiliating outcomes for the losers.

This is not the world we live in today, though. Under the influence of Roman law, European states began to develop an elaborate international legal system around the 17th century. By the early 20th century, this was extended to non-European countries like Japan and Turkey because European nations were by far the most wealthiest and powerful and these nations wanted to integrate into the neo-Roman system. Later still, we had an entire international system governing war.

Of course, no legal system is set in stone. Trump and Giuliani have pointed out that there is an alternative way to manage inter-state relations. It is one where the winner takes all or the victor subjects the vanquished to his will. But here is my problem: what were the Nuremberg trials about? Weren’t they to try war criminals? But there are no war crimes for Giuliani. What about the invasion of Kuwait in 1990? That was an illegal invasion, we were told. But there are no illegal invasions for Giuliani. How about Iran ‘illegally’ developing nuclear weapons? They would be deployed in a war but banning such weapons, implies Giuliani, is absurd because the ban would cover a situation where there no bans. Similarly, Putin didn’t invade Crimea illegally but Trump obviously would agree on that score.

Of course, the US has flouted rules of war consistently. The bombing of Tokyo, the dropping of the A-bomb, the bombing of Vietnam, the 2003 invasion of Iraq … all illegal, if we adhere to Giuliani’s definition of wartime conduct. But the US marches under the banner of legality. It says that it is bound by rules of war, as are other countries. Its global legitimacy rests in the idea that the US is not some Mongol-type plunderer, but a civilised keeper of the peace.

The Trump-Giuliani thesis is not wholly illogical but would be the death of modern international law. Even dictators like Saddam cleaved to international law. They registered their soldiers, engaged in international diplomacy, agreed to respect treaties, and made themselves liable for war crimes. Saddam did not head a ‘rogue state.’ If the US ditches international law, it also forfeits its ability to judge on the rightness of a war. Countries it invades would be at its mercy, but the US could not use international law as an excuse for an intervention. Is this newish-oldish order better than the one we have?