Thu, Jun 14, 2018 - Page 9 News List

Trump is being normalized amid ignored warnings

By Gary Younge  /  The Guardian

During the 2016 US presidential election, the Huffington Post’s US site carried the following editor’s note at the end of every story about the US Republican nominee: “Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the US.”

Shortly before 6am on that long election night — in between Trump winning Iowa and being declared the victor in Pennsylvania — the Washington bureau chief announced that the note would be removed, “in respect for the office,” and that it was time for a “clean slate.”

A year before his election, Fiona Hill, who would become one of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s joint chiefs of staff, said on Twitter: “Donald Trump is a chump #trumpisachump.”

Six months later, Nicholas Timothy, who would become May’s other joint chief, wrote: “As a Tory I don’t want any ‘reaching out’ to Trump.”

However, once Trump was elected, May could not reach out fast or far enough — the first foreign leader to meet the US president, just one week after his inauguration.

During the primaries, former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said on Twitter: “If Trump had said 4 years ago the things he says today about the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled, I would NOT have accepted his endorsement.”

Almost two years later, Romney decided to run for the Utah senate seat and Trump endorsed him.

“Thank you Mr President for the support,” Romney said.

According to Tim Shipman’s account in Fall Out, a month before the US election British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson told a friend: “This is an election that is going to expose America’s primal pysche as never before. If it is Trump, it will be a victory of really base daytime TV redneck America.”

Last month there was Johnson, on breakfast TV — Fox & Friends — insisting that Trump could be a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, as he unsuccessfully pleaded with the president, via one of his favorite TV shows, not to abandon the Iran nuclear deal.


Power can apply a soothing balm to a raging conscience. In its absence, all kinds of moral positions can be staked out in bold, vivid rhetoric.

However, it is only in the presence of power that these values are tested, for it is only then that there is a price to pay. In those moments it can be seen whether the lines people have drawn have been carved in stone, so they can stand by them, or etched in sand, ensuring no permanent trace.

So it has been with Trump’s elevation. Once his candidacy proved viable there was a broad consensus that it should not be normalized.

This was not simply a politician with whom some had policy disagreements; here was a man who practiced a style of politics that could not be indulged.

He advocated violence at his own rallies, branded journalists scum, brazenly invented facts, employed unvarnished racism, xenophobia and misogyny on the stump and refused to accept the result if he lost.

To treat him like any other candidate would be not only to legitimize such political behavior, but reward it.

That is why it will be important to demonstrate during his visit to the UK next month, to make clear to the world, that British have clear moral lines and the man who is ostensibly their main ally has crossed them many times.

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