Sunday, 20 November 2016

Random Reads (13/11/16)

This has been the worst week I have had in a long time. Like many people I had lulled myself into believing that hope would triumph over hate; that the voters' remorse expressed after Brexit would encourage a greater voter turnout; that this long, bitterly divisive campaign would end in a celebration of the shattering of the glass ceiling and the building of bridges not walls. But alas, hate won.

As a consequence much of my reading this week has been a postmortem. Some of the highlights are:
  • An American Tragedy by David Remnick in the New Yorker wrote about the despair felt by those who did not vote for Trump. Remnick writes "That the electorate has, in its plurality, decided to live in Trump’s world of vanity, hate, arrogance, untruth, and recklessness, his disdain for democratic norms, is a fact that will lead, inevitably, to all manner of national decline and suffering." 
  • Economist Paul Krugman wrote about The Economic Fallout for the New York Times. He writes "under any circumstances, putting an irresponsible, ignorant man who takes his advice from all the wrong people in charge of the nation would be very bad news." He predicts the Federal Reserve will come under increased pressure and that a global recession is now looming.
  • In The Guardian there was an article by Jonathan Freedland called "The US has elected its most dangerous leader. We all have plenty to fear." Freedland pulls no punches calling Trump "an unstable bigot, sexual predator and compulsive liar." He puts the election of Trump in a  global context and expresses concern for minorities in America.
  • Sarah Churchwell writes "Hillary Clinton didn't fail us. We failed her" in The Guardian. This is a great article about misogyny in America, as Chuchwell picks apart what happened to Clinton and links it back to fiction about women in politics. 
  • I also read an article that was published back in May 2016. Andrew Sullivan wrote for New York Magazine "America has never been so ripe for Tyranny" in which he predicted the election of Trump. I loved this article as Sullivan goes back to Plato's Republic and sees the rise of a populist showman in response to too much democracy. This brilliant article concludes with an unheeded warning:  For Trump is not just a wacky politician of the far right, or a riveting television spectacle, or a Twitter phenom and bizarre working-class hero. He is not just another candidate to be parsed and analyzed by TV pundits in the same breath as all the others. In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event. It’s long past time we started treating him as such.

Naomi Klein receiving Sydney Peace prize
from Prof Gillian Triggs
On Friday 11 November I had the pleasure of attending the Sydney Peace Prize presentation at Sydney Town Hall. The prize was awarded to Naomi Klein for her work on the environment. Klein spoke about the election of Trump and what it could mean for the planet - especially given that he is surrounded by climate change deniers. Klein's message was one of hope - of small acts of resistance and heroism, of listening to our indigenous peoples who have cared for the land for centuries, and of caring for our planet.

In the room were other heroes of mine: Aboriginal activist Senator Pat Dodson introduced Klein, and Human Rights Commissioner Professor Gillian Triggs, a woman of tremendous conviction and integrity, presented Klein with the award. Triggs received a standing ovation from the sell-out crowd.  The video of this event is now on YouTube and it is well worth a watch.

So despite the crappy week, I will choose optimism over fear. I will continue to support causes I believe in and to stand up for the disadvantaged. I will believe in a better America in years to come. 

Note: I had written much of this a week ago with the intention of publishing on 13 Nov. That I hadn't actually uploaded this post speaks to the malaise I have felt. Will post despite the lateness and post something happier next.