Friday, 11 November 2016

Strictly Come Trumping

Slightly embarrassingly, I like to watch Strictly if I'm at home early on a Saturday evening. Forgive me, but it's fun. Anyway, here's this week's unlikely hypothesis...there was an aspect of last week's edition of the programme that directly explains why Donald Trump won the US election this week.

OK, bear with me - clearly it's not the only reason Trump won, and maybe I've already drunk too much Desperados Red (beer, tequila, guarana, cachaca - how ironic that I'm drinking a Mexican-inspired beer and writing about Trump huh?), but it's certainly part of the explanation.

So, Strictky, you know the bit before each participant does that week's dance live in the studio, there's a pre-recorded couple of minutes telling the story of "their week in training". Well, last week no matter how sweaty, how energetic, how early, how late or how difficult the training routine, they and their professional partners were wearing a poppy. It just wasn't realistic.

But of course they were wearing their poppies - because the BBC is terrified of being accused of being disrespectful to the whole Remembrance thing, which in turn is because Remembrance and what goes with it is an Acceptable Point Of View (APOV).  More than that, it's the ONLY Acceptable Point of View. As it happens, there's only one version of all APOVs.

The Remembrance APOV is quite unusual, in that its associations with the military give a slightly militaristic, patriotic vibe, which normally wouldn't feature. But because it's an APOV, which by definition if you're not "for it", you must be "against it", it grates with me. Don't get me wrong, I respect and admire the sacrifices made down the years by our armed services, but I'm damned if I'm going to be judged for not visibly expressing that support. So I don't wear a poppy, because I'm a bit contrary like that. But I do put money in the Royal British Legion boxes. And as it happens, I completely understand those who feel discomfort with the poppy's symbolism, given that we're now encouraged to see it as a universal emblem of the contributions made in all conflicts (Iraq, Afghanistan? Despite my general right-wingery, I'm very uncomfortable with us throwing our weight around overseas).

But I'm straying away from the main point - which is that on an enormous variety of issues these days, there's a single, universal APOV. And if you happen to even question, let alone openly disagree with it, among a large section of the left-leaning, liberal population, you're deemed beyond the pale, irredeemable, disgraceful, one or more of a range of bad things that normally end in 'ist'. Certainly not one of us. And most definitely not someone to be argued against, debated with, to seek to change their opinion - other than in shrill moralistic terms.

This is the phenomenon that at its silliest, most puerile, leads to 'safe spaces' and 'no platforming' on university campuses (do grow up you delicate little snowflakes), and the election of an individual with an apparent basket of personality flaws to the office of President of the United States.

Why? Because the debate, the press coverage and the commentary became about him, and the fact he didn't hold APOVs. But the reaction was not to take on or challenge his views from first principles of decency and treating people equally and with integrity (let alone actually examine the viability of his policies) - it was to wail and shriek about the despicability of the individual and anyone who expressed support for him. You're irredeemable!  You're disgraceful! You're stupid! You're in the basket of despicables! And guess what happened? That wailing and shrieking entrenched his support, not undermined it. The psychology ain't hard to work out.

But whether it's the more extreme of the Remainers in this country, or those fools burning the flag on the streets of US cities, they still don't get it. It's not about you any longer, losers. Democracy's happened. Stop whinging about how you don't like its results, or trying to overturn or reverse them, and particularly stop telling the people who created the results how despicable and stupid they are, and get on with arguing with us - because here's the thing: a lot of us have got surprisingly open minds.
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