We could be previewing World War III 18 June 2020
“There’s a giant doing cartwheels. A statue wearing high heels. Look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn.”
Lookin’ Out My Back Door, John C. Fogerty
The biggest political shift and proximity to all-out war in my lifetime is happening right now.
It has not been, as we have been made to fear for my 65 years, the threat of another country. It is the threat of the people turning on each other.
The divergence between left and right thought has never been as wide or as angry.
Driven by media excess where vastly divided and biased practitioners are rife on both sides, people are getting very upset and demanding action.
In the past decade, political leaders of many different persuasions have been elected and many, by dint of personality, are helping to fuel the flames.
The right has Donald Trump who speaks his own mind at every opportunity. No political nous to see here. The trouble is his mind may not be all he cracks it up to be.
They also have Boris Johnson, whose well-meaning buffoon act wears a bit thin beside his learning and knowledge.
Both have led complete bungles of the Covid-19 pandemic in two of the highest profile democracies in the world.
I won’t even bother with the bloke in Brazil or whether he is right or left. He’s just mismanaged the whole shooting match.
Then we have the Philippines where their man solves many things criminal by letting the public shoot to kill transgressors.
Of course, there’s leadership out there but the more unsettling these ‘charismatic’ leaders, the more chance the general public (read, all those who care enough to go out on the streets to protest) will take action.
These crowds cannot beat the government at the ballot box so go onto the streets to show their disgust. Problem is, the people who voted for the government think in totally different terms to the protesters. They are not going to give up easily. They too hit the streets.
In a recent London Review of Books blog (see link at end of this piece) an anonymous writer covered a London protest in which he/she took part. It appears this was the event where a black man – to deserved public acclaim – carried a white opponent out of the fray.
I can tell you from reading this that I wouldn’t want to be on the streets of London any time soon.
Sides were clearly drawn: black people and supporters versus right-wing extremists and a reference to “Democratic Football Lads Alliance”.
It is not bravura to say that I don’t think many things scare me but, without hesitation, one thing I will put my hand up to is a British soccer hooligan.
A pack of them and I may as well be, without the accompanying bravery, Indiana Jones being lowered into the pit of snakes.
Many of these protesters on both sides of the left-right divide are on the streets because of a lifetime of disappointment and hurt.
The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis is the spark that has brought these protestors into physical conflict. We’ve had climate change revolt; Brexit revolt; anti- and pro-Trump supporters but this death has enflamed hatred on both sides.
World War I was sparked by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo and a major world conflict without borders could be sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Outrage that “Black Lives Matter” brought people onto the streets but I wonder if destruction of civic and private property sends the right message.
I cannot quite work out why people are tearing down statues, especially when they are of the people who saved them or discovered them.
“Statues can teach us about history, but they do not convey some immutable truth from the past. Instead they are symbolic of the fixed ideas of a specific community regarding its past, as captured at a particular point in time.”
Simon John, Senior lecturer in Medieval History, Swansea University
Sir Winston Churchill’s statue in London got defaced with the word “racist” and statues of Christopher Columbus were torn down in Minnesota and Virginia in the US.
There are underlying “racist” reasons for these acts. But had it occurred to the protesters that without these two men most members of that crowd would not be there? You cannot rewrite history and cherry pick the good or bad bits. You write the history.
Without Churchill during World War II, London would almost certainly have become a major city in the western part of Adolf Hitler’s Germany; without Columbus in 1492 stumbling onto the land mass which is the United States of America, the US protesters would be somewhere else, if exist at all.
While reading newspaper stories of protesters tearing down statues of people they consider unworthy, it brought back memories of a 1966-67 television show called Time Tunnel.
It starred James Darren and Robert Colbert as two scientists working on a secret time travel project run by the US military.
Each episode they would be transported back in time while being monitored by other scientists and senior military officers. From memory, the two travellers took part in historic events which their actions altered in some way.
However, the eventual outcome – before the swirling tunnel sucked them up again – was as history recorded the period they were in.
That’s important. It is all very well for the scriptwriters to invent some narrative built around Billy the Kid but it can’t be one of the scientists who kills the outlaw. It has be, as history tells us, Pat Garrett.
How different would the world be if these scientists and their situation was real? What if they assassinated Adolf Hitler outside a German beer hall in 1930 and dumped him in a refuse bin?
Good result I say. But the world’s shape in the past 90 years would have been vastly different.
The protests about Black Lives Matter resonated throughout the major, mainly white-governed, democracies of the world. Looters took advantage of the mayhem and the world will always have its disgraceful opportunists.
However, the protesters (who weren’t looting and decried the act) did themselves no favours when they began to deface statues, tearing them down in some cases and throwing them in waterways.
The reason for this: the statues were of people deemed to be racist.
“One ought to be able to hold in one’s head simultaneously, the two facts that Dali is a good draughtsmen and a disgusting human being. The one does not invalidate or, in a sense, affect the other.”
George Orwell (most likely from) Benefit of Clergy: Some notes on Salvador Dali
Orwell’s opinion of Dali prompts that two different sides to a person can be held. The one, a proficiency in his craft, the other a disgust at his personal beliefs or behaviour. Orwell can appreciate Dali’s art while despising the man’s personality.
Unknown to me until writing this piece, Columbus Day is hotly debated each year in the US, much as Australia Day has become a hot topic in this country. For similar reasons – both days evoke invasion and colonisation – many people want them banned or at least have the names changed.
I can see how Columbus might have got a few hackles up. According to a biography website Columbus was arrested, chained up, and brought back to Spain in 1499. As governor of the territory of Hispaniola in South America, he was accused of mistreating his subjects, including flogging and executions without trial of Spanish colonists in Hispaniola. One imagines he treated the natives of the land even worse?
We cannot alter the way Churchill thought; we cannot offer excuses for Columbus the man versus Columbus the sailor.
Pillorying them for their foibles doesn’t alter the fact they were both paramount to the protesters’ very existence.
Thanks to Jeff Mackey, below see an excerpt of Jordan Peterson on Q & A and another conservative’s definition of the difference between left and right (especially related to the USA). https://www.facebook.com/127225910653607/posts/2940300049346165/?vh=e&d=n
(The author of the view on left and right in the link is) Dennis Mark Prager (/ˈpreɪɡər/; born August 2, 1948) an American conservative radio talk show host and writer. He was born into an Orthodox Jewish family. His initial political work concerned Soviet Jews who were unable to emigrate. He gradually began offering more and broader commentary on politics. His views generally align with social conservatism. He founded PragerU, an American non-profit organization that creates videos on various political, economic, and philosophical topics from a conservative perspective.