“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…”
These words by Barack Obama, channeling those of Nelson Mandela, have now become the most liked tweet in history.
I had hoped to be able to move on this week from the events in Charlottesville.
I had hoped that common sense, or better judgement, or at least a modicum of self-awareness and decency might have seeped through the thick skin and even thicker skull of Donald John Trump.
(Actually, on reflection, that is unfair. He is incredibly thin-skinned. Which is why he reacts with such pouting, petulant outrage at any – and all – criticism.)
Anyway… I wrote last week that he might find the right words, eventually, to condemn the fascists, racists and nazis, who marched and maimed and murdered in his name.
To be fair, he tried. But to be brutal, he failed.
Spectacularly. Completely. Dramatically.
As soon as his eyes left the script, as soon as he was “unplugged”, the mask of compassion and understanding slipped to reveal the bigot that he is in all its gory detail.
It is bad enough that he tried to pretend that there is some moral equivalence between the white supremacists and those who opposed them.
It is worse – far worse – that he believes there are good people on both sides.
You can imagine his thinking… “Ah yes, that Adolf Hitler. Bad guy. But at least he liked dogs.”
Well you show me a “good” Nazi, and I will show you a deluded psychopathic, sociopathic hater simply by holding a mirror in front of your face. And don’t give me that crap about some on both sides in Charlottesville being good people.
Those who marched to Unite the Right chanted anti-black, anti-gay and anti-catholic tirades. Those who marched with them, under the Swastika and with the protection of gun-toting paramilitary maniacs, were just as guilty.
By the company they kept and by every step they took on their march of hate they showed the world who they were.
The very fact that the president’s “even handed” response won praise from the Hate March organisers, speaks volumes. And, it is sad to note, there are many who still back Trump in his twisted view of right and wrong.
In response to this column last week, I was branded an old, liberal, leftie, white-hater. By somebody who had the grand total of five followers on Twitter.
But lets set the record straight:
Yes. I am old. At least, older than I used to be.
Yes. I am liberal – but a liberal conservative.
And yes, I am a white hater. But only a hater of white supremacists.
I am fortunate in that I can vent my outrage on this page. I realise that it will make little or no difference. I am but one voice amongst millions urging the USA to Dump the Trump and that, ultimately, that is a decision for them and them alone.
But I passionately believe that we all have to stand up, speak out and be counted when it comes to facing down the bullies, the bigots and the tyrants.
We, here in these Isles, are not immune. We too have our share of fantasists and hate mongers. Thankfully, our history is one of shunning, not embracing the extremes of politics. We have confronted and rejected the totalitarianism of communism and fascism. We have, so far, chosen to travel down a safer, saner road.
But our world is at a crisis point. Today, we face the twin threats of extremism and fanaticism from the far right and the terrorists of ISIS. We cannot embrace one as the answer to the other. They are both the faces of evil. We must not let Christianity or Islam be hi-jacked by either.
As Nelson Mandela said, and as Barack Obama amplified, no one is born hating another person. So we must all take our share of blame for allowing so many to be taught such hate. And vow that it stops now by living up to that well worn, but never more apt Scots phrase – one which Donald Trump would do well to heed but which his Hebridean mother obviously never taught him: “We are all Jock Tamson’s bairn’s.”
Pure Benny Hill
I was on holiday with my fiance Jen last week sampling the delights of the seaside towns and villages of Dorset and Devon. They retain a timeless beauty where nostalgia is alive and well. I was there for the golden wedding of my biggest brother, Roy and his amazing wife, Jan, who wed this week in 1967.
But missing from the shops was one old favourite of 50 years ago – the saucy postcards.
This, no doubt, would come as a disappointment to our former first minister, Alex Salmond, as he decided to resort to the humour of yesteryear on the opening night of his show at the Edinburgh Fringe. The “joke” he told was at the expense of several prominent female politicians, Nicola Sturgeon included. It was pure Benny Hill.
It met with a chorus of disapproval on the grounds it displayed an outdated attitude to women and sex.
Was the reaction over the top? If it had come from somebody responsible for the moral fabric of society, somebody in high office who’s attitude and opinion mattered, someone we looked up to, then it was well worth of all the condemnation.
But it didn’t. It was just Alex Salmond. It wasn’t clever and it wasn’t funny. But let’s not pretend he is any more important any more than any other third-rate comic treading the boards of the Fringe. So let’s just treat him that way.
He is merely yesterday’s man telling yesterday’s jokes.
Also during Mr Salmond’s show appeared the Brexit Secretary, David Davis. The senior Tory is an old friend of Alex’s.
That this seemingly odd couple are chums was met with disdain by the ex-Labour minister George Foulkes.
Football fan and Hearts fanatic, Lord George of Gorgie (as he wishes he was known), wondered how left wing Nationalists would take to their hero being pals with a Tory.
Which irked me. Because whatever you think of politics and politicians, the best of them have friends across the divides. Because at its best, politics should be like a game of rugby.
You can knock seven bells out of each other for 80 minutes on the pitch or in the chamber, but afterwards enjoy each other’s company and friendship in the bar or in the tea room.
So George, be careful. Or I might just reveal who your mates are… Some of them even support Hibs.