This piece is NOT a value judgment on what Donald Trump is doing or what the Americans are doing by protesting against Trump. It is a simple attempt at rationally trying to understand the psychology behind all this and the erstwhile and now changing the ethos of politics in America. Time will decide what the consequences will be. Let us remember that in nature there are only consequences.
The Surprise in the Story:
What beats me completely is the widespread denunciation by the lay American Public, that too in millions taking to streets, women even more prominently of Trump for the VISA ban imposed by him on 7 Muslim countries. I can, and the world has as well, understood the dependence, real, imaginary, relevant in the past or even in the present of the American Nation on the Middle East for oil. This is one of the two major factors for the American Governments to have an attitude to connive at or soft peddle even pamper or appease Muslims and their countries. It is no surprise therefore if this was to continue even after 9 /11. Americans killed Osama Bin Laden – quid pro quo. Long live connivance! Hence what beats me here is a new president putting a ban widely denounced by the American people who could still get their petrol and their luxury or their hitherto life will continue – ban or no ban.
Is it the Muslim Element or the Immigration Ban?
I cannot make out if the Muslim element in it is the cause of this righteous indignation or is it just the action. Supposing ten different countries, Christian, Buddhists, from South America, Africa or South Eastern Asia were to be banned would the outrage be so massive, instant and intense? Could the same or any other reason have been given to do that? Not me but the Americans (those protesting at least) have to answer that. Each one of us has the luxury of thinking about it. I cannot make out if it is naivety arising out of a sense of “American Fundamental Values” of freedom, justice, constitutionalism or whatever else. America has trampled all of these values enough and number of times to feed their military industrial complex for decades. How seriously do we take the argument that America being a nation of migrants, banning seven country people from entering America is a barbarous act?
Is it a Matter of Self Image?
Or is it the self-image that the protesting Americans have fondly cultivated for themselves (as many people in India also have done for decades) of being the most liberal, most conscious of human rights, rising above all other petty considerations like nationalism, self protection and so on without realizing that it may blind them to the situations prevailing in the world? Have they forgotten that the demon of terrorism itself is an American Creation which is now getting beyond control threatening the world safety as a whole? Or do we have to believe that Americans have forgotten 9/11 or consider it to be a Mad Act by a few, therefore, eschewing the wholesale characterization of Muslims, not banning, is the right thing?
Is it the Failure to Defeat Trump?
Or is it the reaction against the fact that America could not achieve the defeat of Donald Trump in the electoral battle and the anger boiled inside volcanically? Ready to burst forth, Trump provided a convenient handle. One must know by sheer experience how angry people become even if a Cooperative Society election is lost. And the anger remains intense for long or for a few years at least. Greater the vested interests, greater the lucre, greater is the Sound and the Fury. There lies the enigma.
What was the reason for these millions of protestors wanting to defeat Trump in the first place? Decency, public propriety, verbal utterances, gestures, character, women, probity, certain uncouth ways of behaving, enough and more can be cited. Was it that the Etiquette was pushed aside or the blunt expression on issues which could be considered grave was applied? Despite all efforts to expose Trump on all these issues, berate him, they could not defeat him.
Certainly, there were other matters of jobs in America for Americans for one. Was it being considered as the bourgeoisie Nationalism? Even that does not seem to have appealed the Americans. Terrorism was there and naturally the Muslims being at its centre. It was all out in the open. It is difficult to imagine these latter issues did not appeal the protestors then. Their nation was divided over this.
Is there an Irrational Side to it?
I will take it to a higher level of thought. Is it just a just protest for just values? There is a strong colouring of hatred in it. None of the issues may actually matter here. Just the hate may matter. But why so much hate over a politically “incorrect decision” if one may argue it that way? One should have known that the American Constitutional Spirit will thrash this decision anyway and it did. Two of the Trump remarks are pertinent. “See you in the courtroom. Some judge is making a decision about the country’s safety.”
This war is going to continue unabated. Those who wanted to form the government but failed could have had some other serious vested interest in defeating Trump and hated to lose. This scenario is much the same as what happened in mid-2014 when the central government in India changed. No doubt about that.
Or is it the Element of Political Correctness?
In addition to the heat generated, fuel was poured by Germany, UK and a few others. This I suppose was the reflex, conditioned reaction of the connivance or soft peddling about Muslims the West like many other countries is accustomed to. I say so emphatically since it happened from the German Chancellor even when the very recent and strong German resentment about the shelter to Muslim refugees advocated by Angela Markel should have been fresh in her mind. It had almost cost her, her place in the party as the leader and threatened her fourth re-election. This is the “politically correct” conditioning I talk about. What those wanting to form the next American Government and failed or these nations mentioned here want, by being soft on Muslims and their countries can be guessed. There could be a personal side for gain. On the diplomatic side, the agenda is well known. What is not clear is, is this what the protestors feel as well.
I think what happened is much the same way what happened in India when Indians could not defeat Modi in 2014. The anger, the hatred of political parties, “intellectuals” “prominent people,” media professionals and so on continued for over two years. The pitch, the intensity, the element of hatred and the persistence was ditto. It was the defeat of what these people held as the “political correctness” described in this article below. One can safely predict that Trump is also in for these things for the time he continues to remain a president. Yes, I mean to say until such time he does or does not do something when impeachment becomes inevitable, will be swiftly carried out and no one can say anything. Till then he can get a list of what all people can do to him from Modi. In both the situations, in the USA and in India, there are a few other commonalities, mentioning which could be instructive. What is even more important is that large sections of people in India seem to have intuitively grasped them.
Just as I write this, I have seen the ABP news where pictures which are obviously morphed and are untrue, show that Donald Trump is campaigning for the victory of Narendra Modi in Uttar Pradesh. Whoever has done it understands at least one thing. Both Trump and Modi have something in common to fight for, which he thinks he should defend for both. I will try to spell it out for him/her.
Both according to the protesting sections have breached the barrier each in his own way, of what has been decided by a section of people and parties for long as politically incorrect. Speaking about Muslims even in the least aggressive tone, the least suggestive derogation, I thought was politically incorrect only in India. Trump bluntly called a spade a spade and declared war against terrorism, named Pakistan. This hurts the sensitivities of the Government machinery accustomed to saying things in nuanced tones. It talks in a suave manner so that they do not have to take a strong position on anybody anywhere in the world. This helps them to keep the issues churned for decades, assures their places in the government as experts on these issues. Nothing is brought to head. Nothing is done to solve a problem. Examples galore! They need not be repeated here. With all this thrashing Pakistan is patriotism in India. Whoever has made the Trump pictures viral links Trump as the thrasher of Pakistan just as India i.e. Modi is believed to be.
Wait!! Don’t jump on my sensitivities! If “India is Indira” and “Indira is India” was politically correct, why not this?
Why do Modi and Trump not understand?
This was the famous question that the great English language Professor, Prof Higgins asked about the illiterate and uncouth Elisa Doolittle in ‘My Fair Lady’. The wide breach in the wall of political correctness has been accomplished by Modi in another way. Modi has taken his own promises too seriously. He seems to be acting on them. Touba!, Touba!! Does not Modi know that be it corruption, black money, creating job opportunities, cross-border terrorism and its containment, the opposition, the whole nation will talk about it all the time, accuse Modi all the time, derogate him, insult him? But it is all a part of the game; no one is serious about what they say and he should know that, be a little thick skinned and appear to earnestly solve the problem. He does not have to actually solve it. If an issue gets settled so much less relevant many people’s existence becomes. How can he be so cruel to them?
Trump seems way ahead on that. He has just a day before denied VISA to a Pakistani delegation of two. He will continue to do it in retail what he could not do wholesale. A couple of Muslim countries banned their own brethren from entering. He talks of 'America first'. But no one is protesting on that. Trump is irked by the way non-American companies have bagged the top dollar jobs. H1B VISA gets restricted. That does not seem to be an issue of much significance.
But the initial question also remains. Why the lay public?