criticalvoices

On issues that matter …

Alternative Hopes for Alternative Facts January 24, 2017

Ah well I guess it behooves this blog to talk Trump because it’s the first since he has been sworn into the Oval Office – an already refurbished Oval office to be precise.

The new Donald Trump administration in the US has ably, and expectedly, started off on a brand new theme that is likely to be the bedrock of his reign. The theme being: Alternative Facts. Oh yes, that’s the new mantra the post-truth world seems to be waking up to and although it has been a guiding light for many a political leader across the world, it has found legitimacy in the active lexicon of the Trump Administration.

This is an era when truth is simply what you believe in and what you want to believe. Where there are facts, there are always “alternative facts”, they would have us believe.

Coming from administrations, as with regimes, people are used to a certain amount of secrecy, the closed door meetings, the situation room decisions, the intelligence briefings, the classified dossiers, the need-to-know-only files and so on. Although a lot of that got blown thanks to platforms like WikiLeaks and people got a good glimpse into the shenanigans of the government agencies and top administration officials, by and large the media community trusts the information released by the White House, and in turn people trust the media that reports on that information. And that unwritten rule, it would seem, has been dispensed with by the Trump yarn spinners who are peddling information from the sacrosanct podium in the White House briefing room, that they have labelled, “alternative facts”.

For the die hard supporters of President Trump, alternative facts, much less facts, do not seem to matter. Clearly, they see a proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. My only prayer for these people is that his many promises to them do not end up as alternatives to hope.

The most common refrain among the more rational of Trump supporters and some of those that didn’t vote for him seems to be “let’s give this guy a chance” and see what he can do. And I would like to think I am among those that holds an unapologetic, if not indulgent curiosity on how transformative the Trump era will prove to be for America and the rest of the world.

So, here I am preparing myself mentally to overlook the fact that he loves to stress upon and exaggerate his audience numbers and ovations; that it will be a long time before he gets over the fact that he won the primaries (!); that he lies with impunity; that he has surrounded himself with waxy ‘yes’ men and women; that he keeps reminding us of how smart he is; and that he has created a sphere of alternative reality which his followers have unquestioningly embraced. And these are ‘facts’ that can be cross checked.

But in all fairness, as I expect the worst of President Trump in the years to come, I am also open to his unexpected best to show up. Alternative hope, maybe?

Srirekha Chakravarty

 

A Presidency of limited vocabulary January 17, 2017

For all Americans, I guess, “Happy Democracy” greetings are in order. Come January 20, as they step into the new Presidency with trepidation – no kidding, they are all in it together whether they celebrated or protested on National Mall on inauguration day or watched the circus of democracy live on TV or simply slept through the great transition – this is the democracy they helped shape.

Before they go to bed tonight, there are a few things that they should all collectively pray for President Donald Trump to do or not do, not just in the interest of Americans, but in the larger interest of the world.

Personally, if my understanding of human psychology is right, I’d say Trump is all bark and no bite. And even the bark is almost invariably from the safety of his private surroundings as he sends out obnoxious tweets, or from the comfort of having his family behind him or having rabid fans in front. Face to face and one on one he is desperate to get the other person to like him. And it shouldn’t take very long for the rest of the world to realize this.

Nevertheless, while all I expect is a daily freak show with previews on twitter, I think it might help Americans to start praying.

Pray that he does not directly or indirectly start a war – any war – US-Iran, Israel-Palestine, North Korea-South Korea, Russia-Poland, China-Japan, India-Pakistan. His tweets alone are capable of launching a thousand war ships. And the world cannot afford war-induced inflation or recession. It took almost a decade for the world to get to economic stability in the wake of the post 9/11 wars.

Pray that he doesn’t go after Mexico with a vengeance. An impoverished Mexico will mean pouring into the US of more drugs, criminals and illegal immigrants. And no wall will be high enough to keep them away.

Pray that he does not cut humanitarian aid or funding for the United Nations and NATO. Again, poverty in the Third World will mean more potential ISIS recruits.

Pray that he does not fan the passions of the radical nationalists within the country. A civil war fueled by racial tensions would be hard to put out.  All the guns in the country will find cause for indiscriminate use. And Trump will not have enough people to blame.

Pray that he holds good on bringing manufacturing back to the US. Let’s see if he can bring Apple back along with its couple of billion dollars in cash reserves stashed offshore to save on taxes, and more importantly make Apple pay its fair share of taxes to Uncle Sam. This I dare Trump to do more than him building that darn wall along the southern border. Getting a small air conditioning plant with 750 jobs to stay put in America is not really an “art” of deal making.

Pray that the mainstream media gets a grip on him. A discredited media and intelligence community in the eyes of the common people is a free ticket to dictatorship.

And please pray that someone gifts him a thesaurus. Believe me, his limited vocabulary will get tiresome, especially since it’ll rarely go beyond I, Me, Myself predicated by the adjective “terrific”.

Srirekha Chakravarty