The popular US late-night commentator Bill Maher had a nice phrase for the section of US society represented by Donald Trump: “knuckle-drag America.”
My, how Maher’s audience guffawed at that one! Put Hillary Clinton’s characterisation of Trump voters as “the deplorables” in the shade! Maher’s audience is near-enough conterminous with viewers of Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show, John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show, Saturday Night Live, etc. The names of the programmes sound alike, the attitudes are identical. I’m beginning not to like them.
Try as they might – if they are trying at all – these people, nine months after Trump’s election, are still full of raging bewilderment at the result, expressed in the ever-escalating intensity of the ridicule they direct towards the fake-tanned fraudster.
Colbert contorts his face to convey moral outrage as he looks into the lens to tell Trump: “The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster.”
Oh, very droll.
Johnny Depp brought his film, The Libertine, to Glastonbury (Johnny Depp! Glastonbury! Jayshus, how cool can you get?!), and asked the audience, “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?”
(Why don’t you answer you own question and shoot him then, Johnny, as an alternative to shooting your celebrity mouth off?)
The superstar commentators want a president who looks the part, a president the world can respect – like Bush, Clinton and Obama – whose most profound contribution to political wisdom in the 21st century has lain in their contention that nothing but good can come from telling deliberate lies to justify bombing the fuck out of Arab countries and then running away.
The only time Trump has been able to bask in praise from the mainstream media came when he behaved as they believe proper presidents should behave.
On April 6 last, on Trump’s instruction, 59 Tomahawk missiles slammed into a Syrian air-force base at Shayrat, in retaliation, so it was explained, for the Assad regime using poison gas two days earlier against the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. The outlets which had been having a whale of a time making rubbish of the risible Trump – the New York Times, CNN, the Guardian, the BBC, etc. – now stood back in delighted surprise. This was more like it, this was pure presidential.
And they were right. Nothing Trump has done since entering the White House has been more closely in line with the actions of his predecessors – including the detail that there was as much evidence of the Assad regime’s responsibility for the Khan Sheikhoun atrocity as there had been for Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction.
The White House yarn had been comprehensively dismantled within days. No evidence emerged, or explanation why Assad would have done such a thing, so clearly at odds with his own interests.
And yet this is the only thing of any significance done by Trump for which he continues to be praised by those who sit in judgement of the propriety of his presidency.
The implication of the not-guilty verdicts in the Jobstown trial was that at least 30 guards must have sworn false evidence. In some circles, this has caused consternation. Could such a large body of gardai really have been involved in a criminal conspiracy to perjure innocent people into prison?
Would that not suggest that the Gardai as a whole might be a bunch of lying chancers filled with blithe arrogance and contempt for citizens’ rights? Surely not?
Here’s a few things to keep in mind while pondering this question – the Morris Tribunal, Kerry Babies. Martin Callinan. Dublin-Monaghan. Templemore. Noirin O’Sullivan. Pulse. Claire Daly. Ian Bailey. Breath tests. May Day 2002…
The 2002 May Day riot comes closest. Dozens of guards baton-charged a few hundred, mainly-student demonstrators on Dame Street, slashing rings round them, encountering no resistance other than pleas from the students as they cowered for safety that they’d done nothing wrong. RTÉ News carried vivid footage of Garda rioters randomly attacking not just demonstrators but uninvolved passers-by.
The Sunday Independent declared on its front page to “Any attempt at justification of the actions around Dame Street last Monday is rendered worthless. The indiscriminate use of batons was an outrageous display of uncontrolled thuggery…”
The Indo identified one of the main attackers as “the garda nicknamed ‘Robocop’… a strapping six-footer who was videotaped wielding his baton like the late drummer Keith Moon.”
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Minister for Justice John O’Donoghue, and Garda Commissioner Patrick J. Culligan were among the many who expressed dismay and promised immediate action to establish the facts and bring the miscreants to book.
But of course, there was no action, immediate or otherwise. Nobody was brought to book. The Dame Street events were speedily forgotten. No conclusions were drawn, no lessons learnt. All of which helps explain why the Jobstown guards felt able to amble unconcerned into the District Court and unfurl elaborate lies intended to put innocent people behind bars.
If, as many of us suspect, no action is taken against the Jobstown guards, we can expect more of the same abuse of power in the weeks and years to come.
In the meantime, the best way to check whether it’s plausible to believe that 30 guards might engage in a joint enterprise to commit perjury would be to drop into the District Court on an average day and listen.
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