- 27 May 19
In relation to abortion, the North is on a par with Alabama – only maybe worse. Plus: why Donald Trump is willing to sacrifice the planet...
One of the best things about the Derry Girls is that as well as being characters in a comedy series, they are residents of the real world. The Derry Girls have been out front and centre, campaigning for an end to the scandalous situation whereby the North is now the only patch of these islands where legal abortion isn’t available, other than in the most extreme circumstances.
Sure, abortion pills are attainable via the underground express, and Northern women who travel across the water can now access abortion under the National Health Service. But the advances serve also to highlight the extent to which women’s rights here still lag behind.
There was anger around the world this month when Alabama – a by-word for bigotry for two hundred years – passed a law effectively criminalising abortion in all circumstances. A child impregnated by rape will be forced by law to continue the pregnancy and give birth, whatever the implication for her life or health.
The most obvious difference between the two jurisdictions is that in Alabama it’s the doctor who will risk imprisonment, in the North it’s the woman. So maybe we should stop reaching for the smelling salts when the law-makers of Alabama lurk into view?
The fact that the Derry Girls are well on-side has made the case for the right to choose easier to argue. There’s many might dismiss Emma Campbell or Fiona Ferguson or Grainne Teggart, but Nicola Coughlan (Clare Devlin) is a different entity altogether. Turn the word in Clare’s mouth? You don’t want to be as uncool as that.
Does the capital G make it ok to say – “Good on ya, Girls!”
I believe there was some sort of award the series didn’t win in London recently. No matter. There’s an eternal accolade resting on the brow of writer Lisa McGee, if only for the line in her enumeration of the differences between Catholics and Protestants: “Protestants hate Abba.”
To be put on a par with my previous favourite comedy-series line, from The Big Bang Theory’s Jacksonville-born atheist and genius Sheldon, when invited to burn his books on string theory after deciding to major in dark matter instead: “Oh no. The smell of burning books always reminds me of Christian picnics in east Texas.”
The Big Bang Theory came to a comfortable conclusion with the 12th series. Didn’t wait to jump the shark. Now we won’t hear the Barenaked Ladies every week: “Our whole universe was in a hot, dense state/Then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started, wait/The earth began to cool, the autotrophs began to drool/Neanderthals developed tools/We built a wall (we built the pyramids)/Math, science, history, unravelling the mysteries/That all started with the big bang! Hey!”
As I’ve noted: a materialist history of the universe in 15 seconds flat. Meanwhile, Carla Connor (Alison King) is about to leave Coronation Street. Corrie being a soap, she has never been given credit for the sustained brilliance of her performance. We will hear much more of her.
LET’S BOOT TRUMP OUT
So Trump is set to visit our shores. Roars of protest will be a moral imperative.
I have just finished reading Bob Woodward’s account of the Trump campaign and presidency, Fear. It’s as superbly researched and written as we’d expect from the man who, with Carl Bernstein, dug up the dirty truth about Watergate and put a full stop to the crooked career of Richard Nixon.
Fear should act as a corrective to the presentation of Trump as a risible fool, on fashionable US chat-shows – Saturday Night Live, Bill Maher, Trevor Noah, etc. – as well across the mainstream media generally. In Woodward’s account, Trump is ignorant, bullying, petulant, narcissistic and dead serious about his objectives. It’s the serious bit many commentators fail or refuse to see.
Trump is best understood not as a political figure, but as the CEO of a US-based multinational corporation with vast weaponry to hand to defend its interests anywhere. Diplomatic niceties are irrelevant. Big business doesn’t prosper by being polite. Imagine Trump as a ruthless operator in the global marketplace rather than as a political leader and much becomes clear.
This points to the truth about collusion with Russia. Despite the best efforts of political opponents, media sleuths and former FBI boss Robert Mueller, no evidence of Russian collusion or manipulation of the 2016 presidential vote has emerged. But there’s a swathe of pundits so invested in the yarn that they come close to panic when it’s suggested that it’s all a ball of smoke.
Nor has a fragment of evidence come to light of Russian manipulation of the Brexit vote or of the last French election. “Collusion with Russia” has become an all-purpose phrase for filling in an absence of fact. The punditry has forgotten the advice of Deep Throat to Woodward and Bernstein not to concentrate on roughhouse Washington shenanigans but to “Follow the money.”
Trump’s belligerence towards anyone who stands in his way has to do with defence of America’s economic empire and, just as importantly, his own position within it.
Let’s boot Trump out of Ireland if we can. But let’s not lose sight of the key fact that it’s not his racism or misogyny or insanitary morals which should make him persona non grata in our midst, but rather that he’s a free-booting capitalist willing, as capitalism ever is, to sacrifice the planet for profit.