Trump ensures American civilisation is a dud

The journey of a nation to empire status and coming of age as a civilisation is an arduous passage.

Published: 09th April 2023 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th April 2023 08:33 AM   |  A+A-

A protestor impersonates former US president Donald Trump in front of Trump supporters outside the Manhattan District Attorney's office in New York on April 4, 2023. (Photo | AFP)

The journey of a nation to empire status and coming of age as a civilisation is an arduous passage. Not all make it. The doings and causes of its heroes and prophets, real and false, make up its folklore. It has taken America centuries since the first Pilgrim Fathers landed in Plymouth on the Mayflower in 1620 to become the world’s most powerful empire today. American culture has spread its influence across the world in many vital areas like finance, cinema, food, language and clothes—even anti-US protestors wear jeans and order burgers. America’s great heroes such as George Washington and Martin Luther King Jr championed ideas like individual liberty and creative freedom. According to sociologist Harvey Rich, “An American hero is someone who has made a major impact on the country, with lasting cultural implications.” By that definition, Donald Trump is today’s American hero, whose criminal indictment—and subsequent arrest—has made him a bigger star not just to his supporters, but also to the Republican Party. The appalling cultural implications expose the change in mores that govern American society and politics.

The ugly truth about heroes is that they have much to hide. The fundamentals of American equality were built on slave labour; early American presidents owned Black slaves. The dirty side of Hollywood is sexploitation and the protection of predators. The Great American Capitalist Dream is marred by Ponzi schemers like Bernie Madoff. The success of Silicon Valley is tainted by the unscrupulousness of its tech moguls. Public opinion, however, demanded a probity from the White House until Trump happened. Richard Nixon was forced out of office after the Watergate Scandal. America hasn’t had a more divisive, uncouth and immoral leader than Trump.

What has changed in America since the days when Bill Clinton almost lost his job after a sex scandal? Trump is indicted for paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels with whom he had a wild affair when his wife Melania was nursing their newborn baby, while simultaneously carrying on with Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal. He is being sued for rape by another woman. Yet, why do Republicans, who banned abortion in states they control, champion a philanderer and a crook?

America delights in its role of the champion of the free world, but how does such a president, who lied about losing the election and called for civil war, become democracy’s saviour? Trump subjugated his nation’s foreign policy to Putin, but is considered the true American patriot by his party. He shared classified CIA briefings with the Russians and stole confidential documents from the White House, but it is Hillary Clinton who is reviled for using her private emails in official correspondence. What explains this dark moral dichotomy of the US democracy?

The truth? America will never be a civilisation. Its society is deeply racist and Bible-thumping. It is misogynistic and anti-immigration even though outsiders powered its rise. A closer inspection of American history reveals that its ways enriched White immigrants and persecuted other races. Trump represents the worst of America. The Republican Party, which fought for emancipation in the American South and fielded Black candidates, is today the embodiment of monoculture and xenophobia. The ancient empires of Rome, Egypt and Sumeria became civilisations because they practised inclusivity. Which is why McFreedom will ultimately fail and the obituary of American culture will just be a meme of inhumaneness, phony decency and unbridled zealotry.

Ravi Shankar


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