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Brendan Ogle: If Trump ever does visit Ireland, his toxic beliefs need to be called out

For now the trip is on the back-burner but if he does land on our shores we need to protest – massively, Unite’s Brendan Ogle writes.

Brendan Ogle

WHEN I FIRST heard that US President Donald J Trump was planning to visit Ireland in November part of me was pleased, and I’d like to explain why.

Sure, there was a few days of the media asking whether protests were appropriate for the visit, but as the Jobstown debacle proved it is when the State allows itself to be cheer-led into attacking the right to protest that democracy is really under attack.

The visit is off the table for the moment – but protests will be certain if the man with the big mouth and the small hands ever touches down here on Air Force One. And, more than for any other visitor from the Oval Office that I can think of, those would be needed. Ireland is a country that has only ever been ruled by one of two right-wing parties, and that is currently ruled by both of them.

That a real, electable, progressive alternative to their increasingly neoliberal ideology has not yet emerged (in fact with Sinn Féin changing position on entering coalition with them it may be as far away as ever) means we cannot be complacent about the type of toxic vision Trump encapsulates as the far right, even the neo-Nazi extremes, re-emerge, both in the US, and in Europe.

Let us get this straight, Trump is a fascist who won office from an unelectable Hilary Clinton on a massive protest vote, along with some help from his friends! Rich friends. The idea that this privileged born to money tax avoiding billionaire (we’ll get to his flaws later) will somehow save ‘the centre’, or ‘the rust belt’ is baseless nonsense.

His election however poses real and legitimate questions about where disenfranchised people who feel alienated from the electoral process will place their vote when they do not see an alternative. Trump is evidence that, in that scenario, some people will vote for just about anything.

Crass and offensive 

Trump’s views are inarguable. He denies climate change is happening thereby repudiating science. Meanwhile the planet is dying while he tweets like a twit. He can get away with mocking a disabled journalist in mid-election. A disgraceful example of his ignorance. But that’s okay if you are Trump. His misogyny is crass, offensive and undeniable. He believes his wealth permits him to abuse, and objectify any woman he chooses. That’s not me saying that, it’s him! And if they pop up in an election to embarrass? Buy them off. All this, it seems, is okay if you are Trump.

But it gets even worse. Trump, like all fascists, is a racist bigot. Ahead of the 2016 Election, Trump had this to say about Mexicans:

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best; They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

Aren’t you glad he found some good people among the rapists? Me too. Pure, unadulterated racism. Just this year Trump tried to clarify these comments by referring to women travelling through Mexico as being ‘raped at levels nobody’s ever seen before’.

This was in reference to a caravan of Central American migrants travelling through America’s southern neighbour on the way to the US border. Apart from the racism and the fact that journalists travelling with the caravan reported that his comments did not reflect the facts on the ground, this comment reeks of ignorance. Perhaps Trump should read something about the rapes perpetuated by the Nazis in Poland and Russia, or by the Red Army as they fought back to defeat Hitler in 1944/45. You’ll find the ‘facts’ in this regard in these things they call ‘books’, Mr President.

To those who will argue that this was all show to get elected (as if that would somehow make it okay) we must remember that Trump’s racism runs deep. Real deep. As far back as the 1970’s his real estate company tried to avoid renting apartments in New York to African-Americans, giving preferential treatment to whites.

A former hotel executive of Trump’s cited him as saying ‘Black guys counting my money! I hate it. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in all blacks.’ He took out ads in New York newspapers urging the death penalty for five black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a white woman in Central Park. And when DNA evidence exonerated them all Trump continued to argue they were guilty as late as October 2016, more than 10 years later. Even DNA evidence is ‘fake news’ to Trump.

His targeting of all Muslims, along with immigrants from Haiti who he claimed of one group in 2017 “all have AIDS”, is rooted in his support for white supremacist views. These views reached perhaps their crassest point when he failed to condemn outright the killing of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville last year.


Many in Ireland are searching for a new direction. While social liberalism is moving forward, as evidenced in the marriage equality and repeal outcomes, economic conservatism is the only doctrine now followed with disastrous human and social consequences in the areas of housing, health, tax justice, and much besides.

Trust in the legal system is undermined by a borderline dysfunctional police force, and by and large the media perpetuates a single economic doctrine now too. As Thatcher once said, ‘There Is No Alternative’ is the mantra. This all sews genuine confusion among concerned citizens looking for a decent society and a fairer distribution or wealth. Or even just a house they can afford. And in that confusion a vacuum opens.

35% of the population didn’t vote at all in Election 2016 and I suspect the number of people feeling divorced from our political system has maintained, or even grown. This doesn’t mean people don’t care, no more than it means those in hollowed out post-industrial communities who voted for Trump in the US didn’t care.

Trump is a salutary reminder – as if we should have needed it after the 1920s and what followed in Europe – that where ordinary people are abandoned fascism is as likely to fill the vacuum as anything else. Trump’s ideas and behaviours must be faced down and opposed. There should be no moral equivalence in the face of racism, misogyny, bigotry or fascism. We must unite and oppose these traits wherever we find them.

For now his on/off visit is on the back burner but if he ever does land on our shores as President his visit should be massively protested – blimps and all!

Brendan Ogle is Unite’s Senior Officer in the Republic of Ireland, a co-ordinator of the Right2Water campaign, and an activist. 

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Brendan Ogle

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