How Enough ‘Snowflakes’ Can Bury the Bully Occupying the Bully Pulpit
It’s called “You’ve Been Trumped.” That’s not bad, but had I been consulted on the naming of the independent film I had a chance to see for the first time last week as a free trial offering from Sundance Now, I would have suggested “The Bully and the Bulldozers.”
For those, in essence, are the mind-sticking images I carried away from viewing this profoundly disturbing documentary on how residents of an ecologically critical sector of the Scottish North Sea coast were bullied, harassed and defamed by then-real estate developer Donald Trump and his henchmen during the building of Trump’s international Golf Links resort. And how the locale itself, which was described as one of unique scientific importance, was laid waste and leveled to accommodate the whims of American millionaire golfers, much in the manner that ISIS has demolished some of the irreplaceable wonders of the ancient world to further its warped religious ideology.
But then, Trump has never had any qualms about destroying architectural treasures, either, as demonstrated by the way he, or rather the team of undocumented Polish laborers he hired, went about smashing the invaluable art deco façade of Manhattan’s Bonwit Teller building that the Metropolitan Museum of Art had begged him to preserve in the course of constructing Trump Tower.
And that’s just one of the unique behaviors that characterize this so-called president: the lack of respect with which he treats both things of consequence that somehow aren’t identified with him, whether created by man or nature, and people in general, including reporters whose coverage he so covets. In fact, where the majority of mankind is concerned, he said as much himself in a 2014 taped interview with his biographer, Pulitzer winner Michael D’Antonio – that he believed “most people aren’t worthy of respect.”
But he does make a few exceptions, an example being Russian president Vladimir Putin. As his second banana and interpreter-in-chief Mike Pence explained on ABC’s “This Week,” The Donald respects Putin “because he thinks the leaders of countries should be treated with respect.”
Well, except, apparently, for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
To his core of devotees, of course, Trump’s expressions of disrespect toward the rest of the world – whether they involve threats to wall off Mexico and stick them with the bill, treating American allies with blatant discourtesy or disparaging a proud, native-born Scot as “living like a pig” even while invading, and defiling, his turf – are simply manifestations of his tougher-than-thou persona.
“When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it,” he assures them, because “we have to be tough.” Such tough talk, they seem to feel, not only will succeed in making America great again by regaining the respect it seems to have lost abroad, but also will make his followers a force to be reckoned with, as opposed to those spineless “snowflakes” who simply don’t have the guts and gumption to take the steps necessary to do that.
There are, however, a couple of glaring flaws in these assumptions. One is that the inhabitants and leadership of other countries, rather than simply falling in line, are now looking at America with bewilderment and no small amount of consternation. The other is that the people who accuse others of being fragile, “too coddled for this cruel world” and in need of “safe spaces” (the implications of calling someone a “snowflake”) are actually projecting their own cowardliness onto others.
Far from the stouthearted stalwarts they fancy themselves to be, exhorting others to “grow up” and “stop being babies,” these folks are actually quaking in their collective boots at the thought that somewhere out there amid the proverbial huddled masses yearning to breathe free and find refuge in America, there may be some individual who, despite all the scrutiny to which such people are subject, may wish to do them harm. So fearful are they of this remote possibility, in fact, that they’ve run for protection to Daddy Trumpbucks, depending on him to issue edicts forbidding tens of thousands of innocent people from setting foot in this country, and to build a wall designed to keep many more immigrant working families in search of a better life from crossing our southern border.
The result, predictably, has been turmoil and disruption, in the airlines, the courts and especially in the lives and plans of numerous men, women and children who either had previously been granted official permission to stay here or had been promised asylum in this country from war, persecution and terror. Not to mention deeply antagonizing and alienating the government of Mexico with insults, threats and ultimatums.
What these second-time-around “America Firsters” didn’t count on, however, are the cumulative capabilities of snowflakes once they get their act together. And that’s what we’ve been witnessing in the past two or three weeks. Virtual blizzards of opposition by legions of truly courageous people of all ages, intent on standing up to this blustering bully and his bulldozing tactics, are occurring both here and elsewhere. And if he persists in his autocratic, Putin-like power grab, that accumulation of driven snow could easily evolve into an avalanche.
And it’s not just those Americans who have literally taken to the streets by the hundreds of thousands who are rebelling against this newly oppressive regime. It’s also the members of the legal profession who have descended on airports and showed up in court on behalf of the victims of this would-be purge, and the big capitalistic enterprises that have taken up their cause, ranging from Starbucks to 84 Lumber.
In that sense, this unlikely tycoon tyrant has accomplished something unparalleled in modern times by uniting more Americans and American institutions than have probably ever been seen in a campaign of mass defiance. Now if only that energy can be utilized to maximum advantage without exhausting its potential – especially if his unhinged tweets and despotic dictates continue in the manner they have – perhaps Congress will finally be pushed to its limits and abbreviate his so-called presidency, as a reported 40 percent of Americans surveyed would already like to see happen. He then could be sent back to resume his autocratic role over his business and perhaps to open his own unique “presidential lie-brary” that would draw millions of phantom visitors.
If that should come to pass, of course, it would be unprecedented, but then, so is what’s already occurred. While we’ve admittedly had some bad experiences with presidents before, this has to be the first time we’ve ever knowingly handed the “bully pulpit” over to a genuine, unmitigated and unrepentant bully.
And given that we now live in an age when bullying is no longer considered acceptable – whether in school, a marriage or the workplace – perhaps what we really need to do is to find out how our so-called system of checks and balances could have possibly allowed such a thing to happen.
Bill Bonvie, a freelance writer based in little Egg Harbor Township, is the author of the essay collection Repeat Offenders and co-author of the newly released Badditives! The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet – and How to Avoid Them, now available from Amazon.com.