“When today fails to offer the justification for hope, tomorrow becomes the only grail worth pursuing.”
Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller
We live in turbulent times. Even in our little corner of the world, the Algarve, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the growing maelstrom of chaos all around, fuelled by mankind’s basest instincts: greed, envy, selfishness, ignorance and prejudice.
The coming six weeks will see a to-date turgid Presidential election campaign in the so-called Land of the Free reach its climax, tainted by ever-increasing racial tension, mass shootings, acts of terrorism and vigorous political mudslinging; not to mention the escalating war of words between America and Russia, leaving relations between the two superpowers at their lowest ebb since the bad old days of the Cold War.
Republican nominee Donald Trump’s seemingly irrepressible and well-orchestrated assault on the Oval Office on the back of populist slogans mobilising the very same section of the population his questionable decades-long entrepreneurial activities helped disenfranchise must horrify any rational-thinking onlooker.
“We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.” Trump’s comment after winning the Nevada Caucus in February this year sums it up perfectly, but then he doesn’t care whom he offends, alienates or insults.
Take one of the country’s largest minorities as well as southern neighbours – the man who could hold the most powerful post in the world by next month dealt a roundhouse blow to all things Mexican by saying: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re sending people who have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they’re telling us what we’re getting.”
And having put down an entire nation of 122 million souls, Mr Trump then goes on to offer up an instant solution. “I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
Even more incomprehensible is the fact that former Republican Party nominee and fierce rival, Ted Cruz, has now given the ogre his backing – truly frightening.
On the other hand, what do you expect from someone who also says: “I think apologising is a great thing, but you have to be wrong – I will absolutely apologise, sometime in the hopefully distant future, if I’m ever wrong”, and “you know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass” – presumably referring to his wife, Melania.
Unfortunately, the only alternative to ‘the Donald’ offered to the US electorate comes in the shape of the over-institutionalised, less-than-credible Hilary Clinton, the former first lady forced to close her eyes and ears to husband Bill’s philandering ways while sitting at the presidential desk himself.
In contrast, Trump’s European soulmate, Nigel Farage, still an MEP, almost comes across as truthful after having successfully made a career out of whipping British jingoistic xenophobia into a frenzy and thereby legitimising a new country-wide wave of hate crimes.
The on-and-off UKIP leader, currently letting Putin fan Diane James have a go at the tiller, warns: “I think, frankly, when it comes to chaos, you ain’t seen nothing yet.” Hear hear.
Meanwhile, fellow Brexit conspirator Boris Johnson, ‘rewarded’ for his efforts to topple the Cameron administration with exile in the guise of the post of Foreign Secretary, is putting normally competent Theresa May’s judgement in serious doubt with a string of to-date less-than-eloquent, bordering on buffoonery, international performances which must have illustrious predecessors such as the Duke of Wellington, Lord Palmerston, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan or Lord Carrington turning in their collective graves.
As the man charged with ‘protecting and promoting’ British interests abroad, as well as heading up the ministerial oversight of MI6 and GCHQ, says himself: “My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it,” a sentiment not exactly given any credibility by Johnson’s opinion that his chances of becoming Prime Minister at a future date “are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive”. Nuts!
Looking further afield, peace of mind is not exactly given sustenance by most recent signs that neo-Nazism is re-emerging in Germany following substantial local election poll reversals for the ruling CDU Angela Merkel government.
The anti-immigrant right-wing ‘Alternative for Germany’ (AfD) party scored huge gains reflecting popular resentment against current policies which have seen over a million refugees settled in the country.
Anti-migrant action, far-right agitation, demonstrations against asylum seekers, arson attacks and assaults have shot up dramatically and are seen as very serious threats to social and economic development as well as internal security by German authorities.
At the same time, continuing waves of those fleeing the interminable Middle Eastern conflict zones are still drowning or are being fished out of the Mediterranean, otherwise known as the summertime playground of the rich and famous.
With Turkey in turmoil, the ripple effect of the war still raging in neighbouring Syria fanning the flames of its own internal divisions, the likes of Greece and Portugal continuing to teeter on the precipice of economic ruin and the European ‘Union’ imploding while trying to maintain its vigilance against the threat of further Islamic State atrocities, Armageddon is indeed threatening to engulf us.
The world’s metaphorical “Doomsday Clock”, representing the countdown to global catastrophe which has been monitored by eminent scientists currently including 16 Nobel laureates since 1947, is set at three minutes to midnight – the closest it has come to planetary destruction for 30 years. I suggest we move it forward by another minute, despite Donald Trump Junior’s assurance that we are in safe hands should his father become President.
“It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep” – Donald Trump in a tweet quoting fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini
By Skip Bandele
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Skip Bandele moved to the Algarve 20 years ago and has been with the Algarve Resident since 2003. His writing reflects views and opinions formed while living in Africa, Germany and England as well as Portugal.