USA: “I’ve Seen Dictators Rise And Fall. Beware America”. – By Salman Rushdie | Washington Post. 

    By Salman Rushdie | Washington Post.   

In my life, I have seen several dictators rise and fall. Today, I’m remembering those earlier incarnations of this unlovely breed.   

IN INDIA IN 1975, INDIRA GANDHI, FOUND GUILTY OF ELECTORAL MALPRACTICE, DECLARED A STATE OF EMERGENCY THAT GRANTED HER DESPOTIC POWERS. The “emergency”, as it became known, ended only when she called an election, believing she would win, and was annihilated at the polls. Her arrogance was her downfall. This cautionary tale formed a part of my novel “Midnight’s Children”.

IN PAKISTAN IN 1977, GEN. MOHAMMED ZIA UL-HAQ STAGED A COUP AGAINST PRIME MINISTER ZULFIQAR ALI BHUTTO AND EXECUTED HIM IN 1979. This dark story was the inspiration for my novel “Shame”. The circumstances of my life have given me some understanding of the dictatorial cast of mind.         

THESE ARE SOME OF THE CHARACTERISTICS:

EXTREME NARCISSISM, DETACHMENT FROM REALITY, A FONDNESS FOR SYCOPHANTS AND A DISTRUST OF TRUTH-TELLERS, AN OBSESSION WITH HOW ONE IS PUBLICLY PORTRAYED, A HATRED OF JOURNALISTS AND THE TEMPERAMENT OF AN OUT-OF-CONTROL BULLDOZER.  

PRESIDENT TRUMP IS, TEMPERAMENTALLY, A TINPOT DESPOT OF THIS TYPE. But he finds himself in charge of a country that has historically thought of itself — by no means always correctly — as being on the side of liberty. So far, with the collusion of the Republican Party, he has ruled more or less unchecked. Now an election looms, and he is unpopular, and flails about looking for a winning strategy. And if that means trampling over American freedoms, then so be it.

I HAVE LIVED IN THE UNITED STATES FOR 20 YEARS AND BEEN A CITIZEN FOR THE PAST FOUR. One of the most important reasons for becoming a citizen was my admiration for the ideas of freedom embodied in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. TRUMP, WHOSE REGARD FOR THE SECOND AMENDMENT IS WELL KNOWN, NEEDS REMINDING OF THE FIRST, which, if I may help, states in part that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

And yet, the man whose incompetence allowed the pandemic to tighten its deadly grip around our necks, and whose inflammatory language full of racist dog whistles has played a significant role in unleashing white-supremacist bigotry upon us all, stands in the Rose Garden of the White House and announces without an iota of shame that he wants to protect peaceful protesters.

AT THAT VERY TIME, just down the street, his security forces, some of them on horseback, are attacking a peaceful protest with tear gas and rubber bullets. A moment later, he characterizes the demonstrators as terrorists and characterizes their protests as crimes against God.  

HE HAS THE PICTURES TO PROVE IT: The fleeing young people, the clouds of tear gas, the line of horses advancing in the name of the Law. If there’s one thing Trump knows, it is how to construct an image the cameras will like.

This man who, before he got his present job, was almost never seen inside a house of worship, then holds up a Bible outside a church to demonstrate his piety, and if the bishop of the diocese denounces him soon after, accusing him of misusing the church in the service of “a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus,” what of it? ONCE AGAIN, HE HAS THE PICTURES, AND THEY SPEAK LOUDER.  

WE ARE SO INURED TO THE BEHAVIOR OF THIS MAN, SO USED TO HIS LIES, HIS INEXHAUSTIBLE SELF-REGARD, HIS STUPIDITY, THAT MAYBE WE ARE TEMPTED TO THINK OF THIS AS JUST ANOTHER DAY IN TRUMPISTAN. But this time, something different is happening. The uprising that began with the killing of George Floyd is not fizzling but growing. The man in the White House is scared, and even, for a time, takes refuge in the basement and turns out the lights. WHAT IS SUCH A PERSON TO DO AT SUCH A TIME?   

If he is allowed to use the actions of a tiny minority of criminals and white extremist infiltrators to invalidate the honorable protest of the vast majority against the murder of Floyd, the violence of the police toward the black community and the entrenched power of American racism, he will be on his way to despotism. Trump has threatened to use the Army against American citizens, a threat one might have expected from a leader of the former Soviet Union, but NOT of the United States.  

In my most recent novel, “Quichotte”, I characterized the present moment as the “Age of Anything-Can-Happen.” TODAY I SAY, BEWARE, AMERICA. DON’T BELIEVE THAT IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE. 

Salman Rushdie is a novelist.

Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie FRSL is a British Indian novelist and essayist. His second novel, Midnight’s Children, won the Booker Prize in 1981 and was deemed to be “the best novel of all winners” on two separate occasions, marking the 25th and the 40th anniversary of the prize. Wikipedia  

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  • Clyde Duncan  On July 3, 2020 at 1:31 am

    Trump is Facing the Thing He Dreads Most: A LOSER

    Opinion by Michael D’Antonio | CNN

    (CNN) DECLARING IN 2016 THAT “I ALONE CAN FIX IT,” DONALD TRUMP MADE THE COUNTRY’S FATE ALL ABOUT HIM. He promised so much “winning” we’d get sick of it, and asked “What have you got to lose?” As President he made everything into a fight between Team Trump (good) and everyone else (bad). He bullied those he couldn’t persuade and even survived an impeachment trial.

    BUT NOW, confronted with a pandemic, an economic crisis, and a moment of reckoning over racism, the limit of the president’s method is obvious, and he seems on the brink of becoming the thing he most dreads: A LOSER.

    TRUMP’S BIGGEST CURRENT PROBLEM IS HIS EPIC FAILURE TO ADDRESS A PANDEMIC THAT HAS KILLED MORE THAN 125,000 AMERICANS. To borrow a phrase from the President, the coronavirus is raging, “like nobody’s ever seen before.” In response, governors in Trump’s deny-the-danger brigade are reversing themselves to battle the pandemic. Facemasks are now appearing in Trump Country, where more and more people want stronger public health efforts.

    WHERE IS TRUMP ON THE PANDEMIC? After hawking hydroxychloroquine, a drug that turned out to be useless, framing an abysmal federal response as a success and refusing to appear in public wearing a face mask, he all but stopped talking about it. Nevertheless, he showed us where he stands by conducting a reckless indoor rally where, to signal their loyalty, many chose to forgo masks. More recently he sent his head cheerleader, Vice President Mike Pence, to a press conference where he lied as he said “We slowed the spread. We flattened the curve.”

    PENCE SHOWED THE LIMITS OF THIS COMMITMENT WHEN, A DAY AFTER THE PRESS CONFERENCE HE ACKNOWLEDGED THE PANDEMIC’S DANGER BY CANCELING CAMPAIGN EVENTS. With this move he seemed to echo the decisions made by those who stayed home from Trump’s Tulsa rally.

    The President had predicted 40,000 would come but by a fire marshal’s estimate there were only 6,200. This so disappointed Trump that he apparently began to consider that his re-election bid is in trouble.

    TRUMP’S TROUBLE INCLUDES NOT JUST THE PANDEMIC BUT THE SPIKE IN UNEMPLOYMENT AND CONCURRENT CONTRACTION OF THE OVERALL ECONOMY CAUSED BY IT.

    In general, the pandemic has caused economic woes wherever it has struck, as stay-at-home public health policies throttled activity. However, in the US, the absence of an effective national response exacerbated the spread of infection and aggravated its economic effects. In this way Trump’s public health failure robbed him of the chance to make economic progress the centerpiece of his re-election campaign.

    THE THIRD ISSUE THAT’S CRIPPLING TRUMP – RACE RELATIONS AND POLICING – OFFERS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF HOW THE PRESIDENT’S INSTINCT FOR TURNING EVERYTHING INTO A FIGHT HAS HURT HIM.

    With Americans taking to the streets to declare Black Lives Matter and to protest against police killings of Black people the President went against the tide to repeatedly call for “law and order” and suggest he is backed by a “silent majority”. In addition to this rhetoric Trump deployed federal officers to show he could act as tough as he talked.

    ALTHOUGH MUCH OF THE NATION RECOILED AS PEACEFUL PROTESTERS WERE FORCIBLY CLEARED FROM WASHINGTON DC’S LAFAYETTE SQUARE TO PERMIT TRUMP TO STROLL TO A PHOTO OP AT A NEARBY CHURCH, HE HELD TO HIS PRACTICE OF DOUBLING DOWN ON EVERY POSITION.

    Most recently he has added the defense of statutes that honor racist, Confederate traitors to the mix, declaring his commitment to defend “our heritage”.

    EVERY SITUATION THAT PLAGUES THE PRESIDENT NOW — THE PANDEMIC, THE ECONOMY, RACE RELATIONS — DEFIES HIS FIGHTING REFLEX.

    In the past he was able to use deviations from American norms to force others to make difficult choices. In politics he insulted respected opponents like John McCain and Hillary Clinton. As president he cozied up to dictators and strongmen while mistreating allies.

    THOSE REPUBLICANS WHO JOINED HIM BECAME SO BONDED TO HIM THAT THEY STAYED LOYAL THROUGH THE MANY SCANDALS THAT HAVE SEEN HIS ASSOCIATES CONVICTED OF FELONIES AND AN IMPEACHMENT TRIAL WHERE HE WAS SAVED BY GOP SENATORS AFTER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL ANNOUNCED, IN ADVANCE, THAT HE WOULD NOT BE CONVICTED.

    EVERY TIME IT SEEMED TRUMP HAD GONE TOO FAR; HIS SUPPORTERS KEPT THE FAITH. But now we have reached a place where binary choices will not work. The coronavirus kills without regard for personality or politics and demands a nuanced response born of a careful mind. The same is true for the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. And this moment in American racial history requires the heart and soul of a courageous uniter, NOT the instinct of the man who once told me, “I always loved to fight. All types of fights, including physical.”

    WITH HIS LIMITED MIND, DEFICIENT HEART AND EMPTY SOUL ON FULL DISPLAY, TRUMP IS DISCOVERING THAT A MAN WHO DECLARES “I ALONE CAN FIX IT” RUNS THE RISK OF BEING BLAMED WHEN EVERYTHING BREAKS DOWN.

    THIS IS WHY HIS 2016 CAMPAIGN AIDE SAM NUNBERG SAYS TRUMP IS RISKING ONE OF THE WORST DEFEATS IN HISTORY AND POLITICAL TV HOST JOE SCARBOROUGH IS SPECULATING ABOUT TRUMP QUITTING.

    Trump is “acting like he doesn’t want to get re-elected,” says Scarborough. “He’s acting like he really wants to lose badly and take the Republican Party down with him.”

    EXPOSED BY HIS OWN ACTIONS, THE MAN WHO MAKES EVERYTHING INTO A REFERENDUM ON HIMSELF HAS GIVEN AMERICANS ANOTHER CLEAR CHOICE.

    When Republican presidential nominee Trump asked:
    “What the hell have you got to lose?”

    President Trump has demonstrated that what we’ve got to lose are our lives and that the choice really is between him, or us. Now we will have to decide whether we will all join Team America and deliver to the bully his just deserts.

    • kamtanblog  On July 3, 2020 at 3:25 am

      Will USA become a dictatorship ?
      Not impossible but highly likely !
      The better g question is “how long will
      the dictator remain in power ?”
      More likely assassination or et tu brutae
      the final solution ! Or unlikely suicide if
      civil war imminent.

      USA a dictatorship ?
      Doubt it but not impossible !

      My take

      Kamtan uk

      • Bernard  On July 3, 2020 at 11:33 am

        The rise of Donald Trump to the highest office was a historical mistake. Many voters took a chance on him and hoped for a change. But not this kind of a change.

        Buyer’s remorse is palpable. As the US collapses on all fronts, those same voters can’t wait to correct their mistake. They never expected the man they elected would turn out to be this bad: failure to lead, always looking for scapegoats and never admitting to a mistake. But doubles down instead. Everything is about him and not about the people.

        His obsession with only being called president whilst not being able to be president is more than enough voters. His mission of division, hate and of racism have all but sealed his fate as a one-term president.

        This accidental presidency will come to a screeching end four months to the day. Biden was not the best choice the Democrats could have presumptively nominated, but he’s much better than Trump. Biden’s running mate should be, in my view, Susanne Rice or Kampala Harris, both exceptionally brilliant women.

        The next president will have inherited a huge mess, not an enviable situation.

        Bernard

  • Kman  On July 3, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    A nice piece by Salman. Maybe Iran will take the price off his head, lol.
    If you look back at US history, you will conclude it was set up for whites only. The founding fathers only cared about protecting its’ own kind. It has been a messed up country whose military clout kept most of the less developed countries in, by using money and by bullying. This did not start with Trump, and will not end when Trump is out of office.

    You just have to look around to see the faults of the US. The US is not blind to this, it is part and parcel of its’ foreign policy.

    The US was trying to get part of Palestine in the 1800’s. Now it is backing Israel to
    do so by force.

    If the rest of the world has the gonads to return to the gold standard, the good ole US would soon become a ‘3rd world’ country. Drive around the US small towns and you will see how lowly Americans live.

    There is so much bad things I the US, l don’t know why people are rushing there.
    I guess as the saying goes; the grass always appear to be greener on the other side of the mountain.

    • Bernard  On July 3, 2020 at 1:12 pm

      Kman: “I guess as the saying goes; the grass always appears to be greener on the other side …”

      But in BG, like the older Guyanese folks call it, the grass is always green — and even greener in the rainy season.

      The other side is but an optional illusion.

      Bernard

  • Clyde Duncan  On July 4, 2020 at 6:55 am

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