Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Some thoughts on Trump victory

I've seen this image do the rounds again:

It's a fake. There are many flaws about Trump, amongst many things for example, he is: a serial liaranti-science (he is anti-vaccine; denies climate change and has made negative comments about the NIH and NASA for example); misogynistic and has boasted about sexually assaulting women; racist and "pathologically impulsive and self-centered". It bugs me to see a fake criticism of something, or someone, that already has more than enough material for criticism to start with.

It also bugs me because this is displaying exactly the kind of divisive ideology that Trump used to help him get where he is, by vilifying Republicans as the "dumbest group of voters in the country". We should be better than that.

There is no need to invent falsehoods to criticise Trump, especially those that mirror his flaws.

So what can we do? Well this is some nice advice that popped into my Facebook feed today:

It shares some sentiments with something Edmund Burke wrote in 1770:

"Whilst men are linked together, they easily and speedily communicate the alarm of any evil design. They are enabled to fathom it with common counsel, and to oppose it with united strength. Whereas, when they lie dispersed, without concert, order, or discipline, communication is uncertain, counsel difficult, and resistance impracticable. Where men are not acquainted with each other’s principles, nor experienced in each other’s talents, nor at all practised in their mutual habitudes and dispositions by joint efforts in business; no personal confidence, no friendship, no common interest, subsisting among them; it is evidently impossible that they can act a public part with uniformity, perseverance, or efficacy. In a connection, the most inconsiderable man, by adding to the weight of the whole, has his value, and his use; out of it, the greatest talents are wholly unserviceable to the public. No man, who is not inflamed by vain-glory into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported, desultory, unsystematic endeavours, are of power to defeat the subtle designs and united cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents 82-83 (1770) in: Select Works of Edmund Burke, vol. 1, p. 146 (Liberty Fund ed. 1999).

This was more pithily put as "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

So we have to do something. But what? Well, another famous quote:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Pastor Martin Niemöller

The power is in our hands to do some things, for example, in the wake of Brexit there was spike in hate crimes. It seems reasonable to suppose that American bigots will be emboldened. This was a cartoon to show how to offer support if you see someone being a victim of an Islamophobic abuse, but the advise works for other groups too - religious, racial, LGBTQ etc

You don't just have to wait for something to come to you. It may sound trite, but I think we really do need to be the change we want to see in the world. It seems there's a lot of us out there wanting things to change, but unless we get together and do something about, it won't.

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