Let’s be honest when we all acknowledge that this post has been a long time coming. I’ve started drafts, I’ve saved drafts. I’ve even gone to the trouble of spell checking some, but haven’t pressed publish. This post will be written in haste, published in haste, and edited at leisure. I may have mentioned once or twice before that all my best editing happens after I’ve pressed ‘publish.’
Trump. Sweet mother of God, what’s he done now? Because of this man, my children were subjected to a half hour lesson on propaganda and the importance of CHECKING YOUR SOURCE MATERIAL (capitals totally necessary, I won’t apologise for it, probably the only thing I have in common with the LEADER OF AMERICA). Radio 4 this morning (here’s the link if you want to listen back. Make sure you’re in a soundproof room. I guarantee expletives will be uttered – skip to 2h 10 if you want to go straight in http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09gbnfg#play).
In essence, Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, has retweeted some Britain First video links. I’m going to try and skip over the idiocy of this alone, because, well I don’t want to have to write about the POTUS tweeting right wing propaganda (that’s what it’s called). Instead, I’m going to focus on the fact that while this was WIDELY condemned (seriously, get him away from twitter), it was our Prime Minister that he decided to directly confront and criticise our government. It’s rare that I side with Theresa May but this morning I did. It’s all about our relationship right? The one that doesn’t have us wading into their issues with gun crime and massacres? Just saying ‘sorry’ whilst pondering why they don’t just do something about it. It’s about the relationship that is supposed to be mutually beneficial? To say that this has damaged the relationship of our leader and their leader doesn’t begin to cover it. The good news is, it’s Love Actually season, and we can all hope that perhaps that Hugh Grant speech might actually have been some sort of Nostradamus style telling of the future. America will be just fine. America first right? It would almost be funny that mantra that punctuated Presidential campaign now that Britain First have been given a platform by the POTUS. Yet of course, there is nothing funny about it at all…
I don’t want to have to write about the fact that commentators around the world are trying to take the moral high ground and not attack him, but instead talk about our special relationship going beyond the term of one president (doesn’t mean it can’t be damaged). What I can talk about though is the platform that he’s given to something, and what I can do is say what I told my children this morning.
It went something like this:
Coulter: ‘Videos can’t be faked.’
Me: ******* what the actual***** is she mad? HAS she never heard of propaganda? DID SHE SIT OUT HISTORY?
Children: Mummy can we put on 103 please (local radio for the non Jersey residents)
Me: NO! THIS IS IMPORTANT! YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO EVERYTHING! AND THEN I HAVE TO EDUCATE YOU!
Children: (exchange eye rolls and attempt to turn down the radio, which I override by turning it up more on the steering wheel. I see the look of resignation on their faces).
And so we listened. We listened as the fact that he has done something so stupid has given a platform to Britain First (I’m not linking to their page), and Ann Coulter. I’m not linking to her either. In the interest of balance of course, there was also Khizr Khan, who pretty much sums up what most level headed people feel. Except he used fewer swear words than I have. He was balanced, he was reasonable, and at no point did he say there was no problem. But as he says, this is not achieved by inciting violence and manipulating facts. We all want to defeat terrorism.
After agreeing with him on pretty much everything that he said, I then had to listen to Ann Coulter. And I am so glad that I did. I am glad that I got to listen to her bigotry. Of her distinction that even if someone is born in a country, if they have parent’s from the Middle East, they are still not really a citizen of that country (she’s a white American, so I’m guessing there’s some heritage there… does that mean she’s not American really?! I’m kidding. I don’t think that). I’m glad that I was able to force my children to listen to her message. I’m glad that she admitted to not knowing who Britain First are ‘I don’t know… that’s not how Twitter works… it’s a video.’ So apparently, despite having a responsibility (I would think) of checking your sources (basic journalism right? Though she is technically a commentator rather than a journalist). Should the President care whose tweets he retweets? No apparently. A video is a video.
Ah yes Ann, a video is a video. But who made it? Why did they make it? What is there agenda? Could it be fake? Even if it’s genuine, are the facts attributed to it accurate? Is it really a migrant (no is the answer, but clearly all Dutch people are – in her view – white – so migrant is a label that is fit for purpose). The children understood this bit. You cannot tell from where a person is from by the colour of their skin. They are ten and eight, and they know this. Sure, you can hazard a guess at their heritage (my own blonde hair and blue eyes points to Northern European, my tendency to turn bright red at any sign of sunlight underlines my Celtic blood), but I could speak all number of languages. I don’t, because I’m not very good at languages, but I could live in Australia, in America, in most European countries, and you wouldn’t bat an eyelid. I would still – for the record – be an immigrant. Had I been born there, I would not be.
I remember always in history, using lots of sources together. Different views. Different perspectives. Different agendas. You can take a picture of anything and put a caption on it. It doesn’t mean the two link together.
I don’t always love the BBC, but this morning I did. For shining a light on what we’re up against (and a great mention on gun crime which apparently is hardly a problem). And reminding me that I have to stand by what I believe in. Tolerance. Integration. More tolerance. And questioning everything that we read, and thinking about why it is we’re reading it. And Theresa May, for all her bad points, isn’t the one attacking Trump. She’s not the one writing petitions. She’s the only one talking to him, and he comes back to her with this.
One year down. Three to go.