Soundtracking the Resistance - Trump Goes Abroad

The President Visits the Middle East and Europe, Musicians Reflect on the Manchester Attacks

May 26, 2017 Web Exclusive By Stephen Mayne Bookmark and Share


This politics column thing has been rolling along for a few weeks now and it's time to move to the next level. Here, and from now on, you'll find different sections bringing a main story, a brief news round-up, words direct from musicians themselves, and the song of the week. So settle in as we start with foreign travels. 

The Big Event 

After many a rage-filled day in the White House, and plenty of golf in Florida, it's time to take the Trump show abroad for President Trump: Trumpin' Around the World. That sounds like a terrible Americanized remake of Jacques Tati's Monsieur Hulot series, or an even more terrible low-budget adult movie. Either might be preferable to reality, but as Trump supporters have been only too keen to point out, he's the president now so we might as well get used to it.

Plenty are still getting used to it, not least the foreign leaders he's been dropping in on. Trump's tour has taken him through Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, Brussels, and finally onto the G7 meeting in Sicily.

In Saudi Arabia, he got to wave a sword around, marvel at a lot of gold decorations (the only way to decorate if Trump's personal tastes are anything to go by), and do a bunch of things he previously attacked Obama for doing. Israel gave him the chance to pose as dealmaker supreme, Rome brought him face to face with a man who went beyond the pontiff's normal neutrality to criticize him during the election campaign, Brussels let him meet a bunch of people he's insulted, and Sicily allowed him to strut alongside people a lot better at this governing business.

If you think about it, Sicily is probably a good end point for a man who seems to approach everything like it's a giant and rather shady family concern. I'm not saying Trump and the Mafia have much in common, but they treasure loyalty, come with a lot of enemies, and don't look kindly on the FBI. On the enemies front Trump has been clear, informing us recently "no politician has been treated worse or more unfairly." Thanks to his astute observation, we now know this with great surety.

As much as it's fun to watch him gamboling around the world like a retired uncle on a summer cruise, and as easy as it is to point fingers when he contradicts himself, all of this is for the best.

In ways that continue to astonish, Trump seems to know very little about most things. By wandering out from his bubble, he might come to understand there is a world outside Trump Tower. It might teach him how America interacts with other countries, and that a more collegiate international approach brings mutual benefits. Visiting predominantly Islamic countries might lead him to realize Muslims are not generic bogeymen that must be kept away from the fair shores of the land of the free. Engaging with the G7 leaders could help him grasp the wider problems across the globe.

It could do all of this, or nothing, but here's hoping he returns a better person for it. At least let's hope he manages to add to that dispiritingly poor stockpile of existing knowledge he's drifted through life with. Or of course he might just lose himself to the opulence and power of the Vatican and come back vainly attempting to replicate it from the Oval Office. If so, here's a taster of President Trump Mk. II.

What's Going On 

So, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated 23 million people will lose health coverage under the new Republican plan. It's hardly a surprise but the number is still startling when laid out in the open. At least it will shave a load of money off the deficit so we can afford that wall we've all been craving. Silver lining, right?

Trump has allegedly called North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un a "madman with nuclear weapons" while chatting with the president of the Philippines last month. Hardly an unfair accusation perhaps, but an amusing one coming from Trump all the same. Amusing until he slips on the button while trying to change over to Fox & Friends and all comedy-and life for that matter-ends forever.

Finally, it's worth looking to South Korea where former President Park Geun-hye is on trial. She was removed from office recently and faces a number of charges including abusing state power and leaking state secrets. Sound familiar? Take note America, it can be done.

Speak Up!

The U.K. suffered a terror attack on Monday night as a suicide bomber targeted an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, killing 22 and injuring three times that number, including children who were there to watch Grande perform. The act itself was awful, but we also saw the best in people afterwards as taxi drivers gave free rides, residents offered up their houses for those in need of somewhere to stay, and people handed out food to members of the emergency services.

Later, large crowds gathered at vigils in Manchester and beyond to show solidarity and prove hate won't win. The music community has also been quick to respond. Here are just a few examples:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song of the Week: Gorillaz - "We Got the Power"

After all that we're going to end on a positive note with the second single from Gorillaz's recent record Humanz. "We Got the Power" opens with the line "we got the power to be loving each other/no matter what happens." The response to the Manchester attack suggests this might just be possible. Plus, the song features backing vocals from Mancunian and ex-Oasis songwriter Noel Gallagher, who has overcome a long and much publicized feud with Damon Albarn to work with him at long last.

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