America Under Trump


The week is coming to an end; the U.S. elections have been checked off: new president, new government … well, life goes on. Really? To think so is blind self-centeredness.

There is a Christmas market right near our office in Manhattan. It’s called “Winter Village” because who wants to talk about Christmas quite yet? You can buy all kinds of knickknacks and crêpes to eat, and go ice-skating on a pop-up ice rink in the meantime there.

A clean-cut couple sits on the edge and talks, like most New Yorkers right now, about politics. The man is comforting his girlfriend: “Everything will be all right.”

So it begins, the normalization, the downplaying, the acceptance – in the media, in politics, and at the Christmas market. Donald Trump? He isn’t so terrible. He is actually quite sensible. Quite normal.

But nothing is normal these days.

Nor is it normal that 60 million Americans voted to have a right-wing populist as president, whose racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, misogynistic, and homophobic rhetoric appears to be immediately forgotten and forgiven 10 days later. It does not matter if you are miserable, if you feel left out, are unemployed or broke: Nothing excuses putting a demagogue in power – even according to the view that, oh, but all of that is only election campaign blustering.

No, it will not be all right.

It is not normal to continue to “hope” that a 70-year-old man will still change. That Trump will not be what he has always been. That he will become smart, well-read, restrained, and respectful overnight. That he will also immediately value all of those Latinos and Muslims, who coincidentally, do not work for him. That he will allow himself to be led in the future by wise minds, instead of by his kleptocratic clan. That he will not lie anymore whenever it benefits him, but rather just tell the truth.

It is not normal that the most powerful presidential adviser who will control every detail of U.S. policy from now on is Steve Bannon. This is a man who has never made a secret about his anti-Semitism, who is regarded as leader of the “Alt Right” – a cloak for all possible hate groups, among which are the Ku Klux Klan’s re-emerging lynch mobs, who cheer Trump’s election as a “step in the right direction.”

It is not normal that hundreds of Americans see this election as cause, indeed, encouragement, to attack foreigners, Muslims, and minorities. Almost 500 attacks against the most vulnerable members of society were registered on Election Day, many with the rallying cry: “Trump is president now!”

It is not normal that Trump adviser Kris Kobach, secretary of state of Kansas, has suggested a “civil register” for immigrants of a very specific religion. And that Trump repeatedly responded to questions about how such a database like this required registry differs from the way it was for the Jews under the Third Reich: “You tell me.”

It is not normal that National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers openly confirmed that Russia manipulated the presidential election via hacks – “a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”

It is not normal that many Americans “informed” themselves via Facebook during the campaign instead of through the mainstream media – and that most of them then voted for Trump.

It is not normal that Sarah Palin may be the new U.S. secretary of state.

None of that is normal. Better stated: None of that would have been normal before Nov. 8, 2016. But now everything is part of the “new normal,” like all of the family stories out of Trump Tower. How nice autocrats can be!

Forget it. Onwards, enough panicking. But that can only be said by those who enjoy the privilege of not being affected by Trump’s legislative changes – especially those who are white. They do not need to be afraid of violence, discrimination, marginalization, deportation. They feel “secure” in their prosperity, while others, into whose skin they are unable to project themselves, now fear for their existence daily.

It is well underway, this supposed normalization, which in fact is a minimization. No one is stopping it. Because a common self-centeredness is encouraging it. The self-centeredness of those who voted for Trump. And of others who smugly underestimated him – and now empower him as silent followers of his autocratic ruling. Will everything be all right? Maybe for many. But at what price?

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