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The Emperor’s Imperialist Pilgrimage

This Week in the Narrative – 29

There is that moment when you ask a ‘right-wing’ friend or family member if they have been following a particular story in the news, and they reply, “Of course I have, I hate the f*#@in’ left!”

It is likely they are about to regale you with the grotesqueries of CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and so on.

I have talked often in this space about the ongoing battle between the mainstream “left” and the ideological left (if we are forced to use the faulty left-right dichotomy).

Consider someone offering a criticism of the “left” – the one depicted in the mainstream narrative –while, at the same time, having a vague understanding that the progressives and socialists they occasionally come into contact with are also part of something called the left. What an incredibly effective diversionary tool; starting the participants of a conversation with an inherent misunderstanding of one another.

This week, President Trump left the United States for a tour of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Vatican. Mainstream ‘right-wing’ news presented the trip as the voyage of an emperor; all golden swords and fighter jets, a chance for humble vassals to kiss the ring.

Nothing unusual about their infomercial for imperialism.

Meanwhile, outlets from the mainstream “left” had their hands full with such an important geopolitical excursion taking place.

They discussed with vigor whether or not Melania and Ivanka Trump should have worn headscarves when visiting Saudi Arabia, before moving on to the topic of their outfits.

They roasted Trump for giving the thumbs up sign, apparently an insult in the Middle East, and for riding around in customized golf cart.

Then there was the infamous globe picture, which, to be fair …

… if Trump is not trying to sell himself as a global supervillain, then I cannot tell you what he is doing there.

Additionally, there was heated debate over whether Melania had slapped The Donald’s hand away during a photo-op in Israel, and what it meant for their marriage and her position in the White House.

And, of course, the issue of whether the Pope had made a fat joke about Trump.

(The Pope, a fat shamer?)

This was the hard-hitting journalism representing the positions of the “left;” the strawman for ‘conservatives’ to push over, and the bludgeon for ‘moderates’ to hit the minimally engaged with. Naturally, the positions and questions of the ideological left were nowhere near the discussion disseminated by the mainstream “left.”

When the President of the United States visits Saudi Arabia the same week his administration signs a $350 billion weapons deal with that country, the ideological left is likely interested in more than the geopolitical pageantry of oversized gold medals and the vigorousness of handshakes. I imagine they might ask why the US is selling weapons to, funding, and generally positioning as a close ally through this ceremonial visit, a country which stands as one of the most horrific violators of human rights, the most anti-woman, anti-gay, and the most despotic places on earth.

When visiting Israel, Trump remarked that peace in the Middle East would be “not as difficult as people thought over the years.” Omitted from subsequent ominous warnings from the mainstream “left” on how dramatic the difficulty would be, was what I would imagine the ideological left would most like to include. Namely, the idea that a large portion of the difficulty comes from Israel continually enacting policy which disregards international law and human rights – the repercussions of which they receive immunity from based on the unwavering support of the United States.

It might not even be unfair for the ideological left to suggest a correlation between current-day Israel and apartheid South Africa; which lasted far beyond its expiration date thanks to the support of the US in the face of global displeasure.

When Ronald Reagan was entertaining P.W. Botha at the White House, Nelson Mandela was in prison, classified as a terrorist by the US.

Interesting to see #FreeMelania trending while Trump was in Israel; a response to speculation around her hand-slapping and generally emotionless disposition. No sign of #FreePalestine though.

Related: Donald and Melania Trump: Domestic Violence in the White House

When Trump ended his faux-religious pilgrimage with a visit to the Vatican to meet the Pope, it seemed to many the perfect opportunity to open a debate surrounding the ideological pillars the two men represent – Trump as the nationalist, the pro-business demagogue; the Pope as the unusual new leader of the Catholic church; a man who seems to have opened the Bible and said, “Whoa, have you guys actually read this? I think this Jesus guy was a socialist!?”

While the mainstream “left” discussed the cost of Melania Trump’s wardrobe, and relished in jokes about Trump’s immense girth, excluded was the immensity of the expanse between the positions of the two influential world leaders.

Trump’s first World Tour is coming to an end. Think they’ll make a t-shirt?

Trump’s first World Tour is coming to an end. Rather than an opportunity to open discussion on serious issues, the trip was used as a vehicle to once again further the mainstream narrative in which a childish “left” yells at the ‘right’, acting as a sort of self-congratulatory Praetorian Guard of American imperialism.


Quote of the Week:


Read More This Week in the Narrative:

Week 28: Impeaching Democracy

Week 27: Trump’s Tricky Dick

Week 26: Behind Trumpcare’s Facade

Week 25: A New Home

Week 24: The Impregnability of Disaster


Written by Nigel Clarke

Writer and notorious vagabond. From the frozen north. Follow Nigel on Twitter @Nig_Clarke.

Nigel Clarke is a Writer for Progressive Army.

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The Emperor’s Imperialist Pilgrimage