Trump the Jewels

This is the second time I’ve felt the need to write about Donald Trump recently. There are many other strange and bewildering things I could be writing about, but there is something uniquely weird and horrifying about the man that won’t leave me alone.

Deep within the paranoid, sci-fi geek portion of my brain, there is a lurking suspicion that Donald Trump is not a real human being. Both his persona and his ideas seem so absurd, so totally dislodged from any form of reason, and such a extreme reaction to the premiership of Obama (who, despite his limitations and disappointing lack of radicalism has at least initiated dialogues about issues like public health care and gun control) that I can’t help feeling that he is the product of some twisted tabloid hack’s imagination: an experiment to test the limits of public intelligence; a holographic projection of bile and outrage, designed to see how much bullshit people will swallow. Yesterday I saw the video of the ‘Freedom Girls’ he is using to whip up support for his campaign. It is easily one of the most terrifying things I have seen so far this year, and a massive retrograde step in the evolution of humankind.

But maybe an even scarier prospect than that of Trump being a hologram beamed by multinational corporations into our living rooms, is that he is a real flesh and blood human who is successfully manipulating genuine fears felt by parts of the American electorate. As journalist Gary Younge so succinctly put it a recent video, his attacks against migrants, women, people of colour in general, and disabled people tap into a wave of jingoistic nationalism that is sweeping as much across Europe as it is the United States.

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Teleporting to an altogether different cultural universe, and a completely different kind of song, I re-watched the video for Run The Jewels’ Close Your Eyes, which had been echoing in my head during the last few months of 2015. The video sums up so much of what had been happening in the preceding year, especially in the wake of the massive spike of police violence against African-Americans. Featuring a four-minute tussle between a young, exhausted-looking black guy and an equally exhausted white cop, it touches on racial profiling and police brutality and is a beautifully choreographed meditation on cyclical violence.

When so much of the mainstream media – owned by people with vested interests in supporting imbecilic billionaires like Trump – is designed to clog the mind rather than enlighten it, it’s left to art, music and satire to decode and decipher. Sometimes though, things in the real world, like Donald Trump quasi-fascist politics, make it harder to stay behind the scenes and merely observe. Run The Jewels’ Killer Mike, for example, has increasingly been stepping out from behind his mic to engage with politics more directly. When he recently sat down opposite Bernie Sanders in an Atlanta barber shop, their hour-long conversation touched on topics such as economic inequality, the racism underpinning the War on Drugs and the US prison system. These are the type of questions that are fundamental to trying to understand the world around us, but are so often excluded from mainstream discourse. It was refreshing to see politics presented in this way – as a dialogue and exploration of possibilities, rather than as fear-mongering and scare tactics.

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