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6 Feb, 2017

Trump-ing the Odds

By Punam Mohandas

By Punam Mohandas

Bangkok – Donald Trump has been hogging all the headlines recently. As it should be too – after all, one of the super powers of the world has a new leader. However, Trump is less in the news for his leadership skills than for the fact that, hands-down, he appears to be the most unpopular president America has ever witnessed and the most pugnacious diplomat to hit the political scene after Italy’s erstwhile prime minister Silvio Berlusconi!

The recent imbroglio that has America’s collective knickers in a twist is the ban on nationals from seven countries, namely, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, from travelling to the United States. The brouhaha is ably aided and abetted by the media – especially CNN – who love to hate Trump. He has been accused of being discriminatory and racist against Muslims and unsympathetic towards the plight of refugees. World leaders have chimed in deriding the policy, indeed, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, is understood to have given Trump a crash course about the Geneva Convention during their almost hour-long conversation this past Saturday (source: CNN politics, 2nd Feb)

While it cannot be denied that Trump looks like a buffoon and talks like a brash bully, often suffering from foot-in-the-mouth disease, it should not be overlooked that he also has a pretty shrewd brain ticking under that blond bouffant, or have we forgotten that the dude is a tycoon! I have to say that I am in awe of his dogged determination in doing what he thinks is right, even if it means flying in the face of global censure and criticism, with his own Attorney General (Sally Yates) defying his orders and the citizens of his country turning out in mass protests. It can’t be easy being Donald Trump.

What I find even more absolutely mindboggling is how people can be so brainwashed and how easy it is to turn the relatively upper class into an unruly rabble with some well-aimed purple prose. Not possessing the herd mentality, I beg leave to use my common sense to do my own thinking, while also offering up some facts as below for you plebeians to mull over…

Trump is not the first US president to ban any nationality from entering the United States. Yep, you heard me right! Please open your history books, all you media-led cattle of America! The Chinese Exclusion Act, signed on 6th May 1882 by president Chester A. Arthur, banned Chinese skilled as well as non-skilled workers for a period of 10-years, was renewed in 1892 for a further 10-years and, in 1902, made permanently illegal and the Chinese remained ineligible for citizenship until 1943. During World War II, President Franklin D Roosevelt banned Jews from entering the country. On the 16th November 1979, president Jimmy Carter signed an order banning Iranians from entering the United States of America (source: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/01/times-banned-immigrants-170128183528941.html) In 2011, everybody’s black-eyed darling Barack Obama suspended the Iraqi refugee programme for six months, news that ABC News sheepishly revealed only a couple of years down the line (source: http://www.breitbart.com/jerusalem/2017/01/29/flashback-obama-2011-suspended-iraq-refugee-program-six-months-terrorism-fears/)

President Donald Trump is accused of being a racist and bigot. However, in 1987, President Ronald Reagan banned HIV positive people from entering the US; Barack Obama rescinded this in 2009 although his predecessor George W. Bush had started to undo this. Here’s another bit of gossip that proves Trump ain’t as much of a racist as he’s made out to be – in 1985 when he decided to make inroads into the old money-old world, ultra-posh Palm Beach society by buying up the 128-room Mar-a-Lago mansion built by cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and turning it into a club later, Palm Beach denizens were very nose-in-the-air types and lived by a rigid (racist) code of rules, so much so that membership to its private clubs was closely screened. Trump barreled his way through all of that, courting societal battles and lawsuits, when he opened up Mar-a-Lago’s membership to Jews and African-Americans (source: Wall Street Journal)

As an aside, I’m just curious – would the Americans really rather have had Hillary Clinton as massa boss? A woman who switched loyalties readily once she started campaigning for the presidency and gunning for Trump, abetted by her husband who is a certified skirt-chaser – it’s probably just that he’s more of a class act than Trump when it comes to the booty! Bill and Hillary Clinton were both guests at Donald Trump’s wedding to Melania, moreover, when the ex-president was snubbed by not one, not two, but four toffee-nosed, old money Westchester County golf clubs when he applied for membership, it is Donald Trump (who had befriended the Clintons by then) who rebuilt his Trump National Golf Club (opened in 2002) and gave Bill membership; as of June 2016, Clinton still had a locker there. Trump also donated $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation from his own foundation (source: Maureen Dowd, 2nd Nov 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/06/magazine/when-hillary-and-donald-were-friends)

More news to shock you out of your skins: America is not the only country to ban citizens from other countries. In 2011, Kuwait issued a ban on five nationalities, namely, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. How come the world did not/does not create a furore then? Is it because people are afraid to criticize an Islamic country for fear of reprisals of the form of death-to-the-infidels-houris-waiting-for-me-yalla-I-go type?

So the American media and global wannabe associations/groups/societies and what-have-you’s would like everybody to believe Trump is racist and anti-Muslim. Sorry, I’m not buying this without more proof. How come he doesn’t have Oman, Qatar, UAE, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and many more Islamic countries on that there list then?? Ergo, it does not prove the (Donald) Duck is against Islam as a religion. Indeed, in that sense he’s an atheist; he has also locked horns with the Australian prime minister on a deal signed by the Obama government, wherein the US agreed to take in 1,250 prisoners (mainly from Iraq and Afghanistan) from offshore Australian detention facilities and rehabilitate them (source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/2/the-australian-mess-up/) One wonders why Obama chose to play Florence Nightingale here when even Australia will not assimilate these people into its fold. A disgruntled Trump tweeted in fury on the 2nd Feb, calling this a “dumb deal.” I concur!

Now let’s take a look at the “poor sods” that have been denied entry to the Big Apple. Of the seven countries, six of them – Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya – have long banned Israeli passport holders. Additionally, Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also ban Israelis, making that a list of sixteen nations that boycott Israel. What’s even nuttier – eight of those countries – Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, do not allow people from any nationality to enter their countries if their passports have Israeli visas! Libya also bans Iranians, Syrians and Palestinians (source:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/north-america/united-states/articles/most-countries-on-trumps-list-also-ban-visitors-based-on-nationality/). I don’t hear a quack (sic!) outta anyone?!!

By the way, what’s wrong with Trump wanting to keep Americans safe in America?? It is an irrefutable fact that most of the anti-social and undesirable dregs of society belong to the countries on Blondie’s list. Should leaders be crucified for wanting to protect internal security? India has faced many disruptive elements from neighbours like Pakistan/Bangladesh/Nepal by having porous borders. So does Thailand with Myanmar/Cambodia. Spain faces it from the Albanians and other refugees; Nice (France) from the Corsicans. Please recall the horrific train attack in Germany a few months ago when an Afghan refugee went on a rampage with an axe. No need to travel that far back in history either – YESTERDAY, an Egyptian national who arrived in Paris this January, went on a machete attack at the Louvre museum. Every country interprets law-and-order differently, some more loosely than others (sic!) When members from lax regimes enter into a civilized, law-abiding set-up, they bring with them their looser morals and criminal set of mind and thus adversely impact their host country – one doesn’t need a degree in rocket science to understand this.

Now let’s address the issue of discrimination. The dictionary meaning of this word is: ‘the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.’ Is this indeed a discriminatory Duck? What does that make the rest of America? Let’s actually talk about discrimination. When Barack Obama was elected as president, here are some of the headlines: “America has elected its first black president” (The Telegraph) “Racial barrier falls. America’s first black chief executive.” (New York Times) “US decisively elects first black president” (the Washington Post) “Obama wins, first black to gain presidency” (Salt Lake City Herald) “History made: Obama becomes first black president in landslide” (Kansas City Star) America was wary in the beginning (except the black community, who were clearly on a roll) waiting and watching to see whether Obama would sink or swim. It seemed the colour of his skin would make or mar the guy. That’s discriminatory!

Whatever else Donald Trump may be, it must be acknowledged that he doesn’t care a whit what you think of him. The man has the hide and sensitivity of a rhinoceros in a china shop, not to be unfazed by all the brickbats and vitriol coming his way. And for that alone, you gotta admire his gumption.

Not that I’m particularly a supporter of Blondie. But I do have a thick hide like him, else I couldn’t have written this piece. I can already hear the baying for my blood. So see if I care!

(Punam Mohandas is a Bangkok-based writer. The views expressed are her own.)