I’m linking to this HoC Westminster Hall debate (3rd July) UK-Israel Trade, for a reason. Several reasons actually. Firstly it makes a nice change to see MPs debating Israel in a positive way without being shouted down by the massed choir of Israelophobes that usually dominate such debates.
Secondly, I’m using it to highlight the way memes and tropes embed themselves in the language to be trotted out by the culturally and historically illiterate.
Looking at the list of speakers, certain names leap out - (from the left) habitual offenders in this respect. Predictably they duly chimed in, to the tune of ”occupied territories” “settlements” “illegal under international law”. It’s dispiriting to witness Israel-bashing zealots citing institutionally anti-Israel organisations like the UN to back up their argument; more so when they are allowed to do so without facing robust challenges by wiser, better-informed and more legally literate opponents.
So let’s have a look at the memes and tropes concerning Donald Trump that have embedded themselves in the language, which are thoughtlessly bandied about by all and sundry.
Ed Miliband gave us a prime example. His explanation for his presence at an anti-Trump demo came simply in the form of a list: Fascist, Misogynist, Racist - there may have been another couple, which have momentarily eluded me.
We heard the same list again from a caller to Any Answers. The term Fascist has suffered extreme mission creep. It now seems to mean nationalist, or, if you like, patriot. Misogyny is the label most commonly associated with Trump, which I assume stems from that infamous recording resurrected from his pre-politics era. The crudely worded confidences he blurted out to his companion seemed to me to be nothing much more than an inarticulate expression of delight and surprise at the unexpected benefits of power and success. It reminded me of Robbie Williams, half stoned apparently, crying out “I’m rich beyond my wildest dreams”.
The real problem with The Donald is his limited vocabulary. You can tell he’s struggling with language, falling back on rudimentary words and expressions just as a small child would, but sometimes cutting through the bullshit and shaking up the torpid status quo in the process.
I don’t think Trump is a racist. Or is Islam officially a race these days?
The caged children thing is disingenuous. I understand that President Obama’s record is no less disrespectful of human rights, and for that matter, Bill Clinton’s and John H Kennedy's are no less misogynist and so on. This is one occasion when ‘whataboutery’ looks like a valid approach.
Another caller to Any Answers accused the BBC of whipping up anti-Trump animus, singling out John Sopel and Paul Wood. Anita Anand wasn’t happy. “They aren’t here to defend themselves”, she said, “and I’m not going to criticise my colleagues.”