The Emperor's Daughter's Clothes: We Should Never Get Used to This Style

02/09/2017 08:59 pm ET

The Emperor’s Daughter’s Clothes: We Should Never Get Used to This Style

Time and again, when looking at comments on television programs, we’ve been hearing that we have to get used to President Trump’s “style”. He can demean judges, basically pout all over the airwaves particularly on his apparently beloved Twitter and he can stamp his feet when any major retail store considers dropping his daughter Ivanka’s clothing line.

Many people seem to feel that though this is an unusual way of operating to say the least, that well get used to it in time. At the same time there are people who adore this, “You can’t touch me, I’m the President” approach, because they identify with the power of it. It rings of television shows I used to love and makes me miss the wonderful actor James Gandolfini. But at least most of the time I knew he was acting.

Do we have to get used to the style of a President who seems to thrive either on applause or on the humiliation of others? When it is not clear how far he will go to get his way? And it is his way, because many of the things he says have been shown to be false, while the key news agencies that are still reliable are said by him to be bad and corrupt, and yes mean.

I hope this is not yet a mental asylum with no guards or treatment staff, a scarier thought when we have a Press Secretary who says it’s only natural for a father who is President to defend his daughter’s reputation (clothing line). I wonder if she agrees with the appropriateness. I wonder if many people will grow so used to this “style” that they will not even see the emptiness and crudeness and destructiveness of so many of his statements.

Immigrants aren’t causing ISIS; if anything there are many who find our own American invasions (not to mention so many years of European colonialism) as laying the groundwork for the resentment, fury and revenge being honed overseas and even here. Immigrants, we know, have been of crucial help in the formation and thriving of Silicon Valley, of so many universities across the land, of our nation in general. When we cause great problems for massive numbers of people, and influence their nation’s politics over years and years, we need to help. When we share a planet, we need to help each other. But wait: Does the President own the planet, and is he above sharing? Or is he too young?

In a year of much magical thinking, magic and fakery seem to be the style of much that we are hearing from Washington. What Trump decides is the truth and what scientists say, if they contradict him, is false. He likes the idea of torture of prisoners since to his mind it works, even though many, even people from the CIA, have told him that it doesn’t work. Yes, it inspires post-traumatic stress of the worst kind, humiliation of the worst kind and resentment that runs very deep in many parts of the world. But if he likes it as an idea does that mean he will have it as a policy? And will there be people strong enough to disagree, out loud, in parts of the government that will make a difference?

In the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, it was a child who had the awareness, the vision, the innocence not to fear retaliation, who spoke aloud. The boy yelled that the Emperor was naked--instead of wearing the new golden clothing allegedly made for him by the two tailors who were really thieves. The story addresses how gullible we can all be to people who seduce us to surrender to them. The tailors convinced the Emperor, through his own vanity and fear of revealing that he did not see any of the cloth that supposedly was delectible in richness and in style.

The people of the Empire, if you will, were afraid to contradict the Emperor, for fear of punishment, or of the humiliation of possibly being wrong. Is this the style of things we have to get used to? Is there no child among us who might say out loud that what is going on is not only inappropriate but also kind of crazy?

There are bigger fish to fry than a clothing line, and I trust that Ivanka Trump will take care of herself; she seems rather capable. The rest of us, however, may be in trouble. One of our biggest worries, I would think, has to do with the veiled threat of censorship that comes through with Trump bashing the press at every turn, the very people charged with being the watchdog of democracy.

I’m hoping something happens to validate the questioning that is mandatory for any level of democracy. I hope enough people in the audience, so to speak, see that this is too disturbed and too dangerous, and say what they see.

I know that many people who voted for Trump did so because they “just couldn’t vote for Hillary”. But I do think there is still a chance for people who voted for Trump because they wanted change, to realize that some change is plain terrible. There is a chance that I would like to take, to resist divisions that are all too easy and come together as human beings. While we still have a free press that hasn’t been banished, we can still attempt what has seemed impossible: to come together more in the realization that the current style is good for none of us. None of us, that is, who want a country that has a true semblance of a democracy.

As such, let’s try not to get used to this.

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