Last Friday's Trump-May talks were a deeply unedifying spectacle. Good news, then, that they've already decided to do it again: Trump has been invited to the UK in June for an official state visit. Once again we'll get to watch two comic-book grotesques, the exact distillation of each of their respective nations' most damaging psychosexual pathologies, holding hands and trying to decide how much human organ meat they're going to trade to the other one for guns or worker robots or whatever.
This announcement has, understandably, triggered some outrage. You'll almost certainly have seen the petition that's been doing the rounds on social media, trying to get Trump's invitation withdrawn. At the time I write this it's closing in on 1.5 million signatures. Despite May's office announcing that the visit absolutely will go ahead regardless, it's showing little sign of slowing down.
There are plenty of good reasons to prevent Trump from entering this or indeed any other country. He's already clearly set on governing like a tyrant, and his ban on residents of seven majority-Muslim countries from travelling to the USA is not only utterly monstrous just in-itself; it's also a chilling indication of things to come. A week or so into his presidency, there is every indication that Trump will end up being remembered as an odious dictator (if indeed there still exists a human species to remember him). The only question now is just how bad this is going to get before he can be stopped.
But the petition itself addresses none of this. Instead, its focus is entirely on one thing: the embarrassment that such a visit might cause the Queen. It even concedes that Trump ought to be allowed to visit the UK "in his capacity as head of the US government". The only reason it gives for this not being an official state visit is that he'd have to give our ancient hive-mother a cringeworthy quick peck on the cheek.
The full petition reads:
Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US government, but he should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.
This sentiment has been echoed elsewhere – a tweet from former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown read: "Am I alone in finding it impossible to bear that in pursuit of her deeply wrong-headed policies our PM is now forcing THAT MAN on our Queen?"
It's at times like this that it's important to ask: what the hell is wrong with this country?
Even if you're infected with the sort of morbid deference that causes you to actually like the Queen, her feelings should absolutely not matter in any of this. She lives a more comfortable life than any of us can possibly dream of just to sit there and seem like an anodyne symbol of continuity. Her feelings are not important here. What matters is those people Trump will victimise or has already. It is for their sake, and not hers, that we should resist him. Any focus on the Queen forgets that.
Let's give the petition writers the benefit of the doubt – maybe they know that the Queen's feelings don't matter. Maybe what they're doing is very cunning, because now, every time Theresa May says she's rejecting the petition, she'll look like she's happy to cause embarrassment towards the Queen.
Well, OK, maybe. I'll give you that. But what does that say about us as a nation? May is less likely to be shamed by her own policies – say towards refugees – than she is by upsetting the Queen. That's a pretty bleak state of affairs.
And let's face it: the Queen almost certainly won't be embarrassed anyway. The Queen was probably pro-Brexit and she's been married to Prince Philip for the majority of her adult life. My bet is that she'll be perfectly comfortable meeting Trump. But yes, it would be a real shame if she was embarrassed by association with a tyrant, like say when her own father taught her to sieg heil as a six-year-old child.
Even as a rhetorical strategy, there is something so utterly twisted about this, prioritising as it does deference towards an imagined "good" authority (the Queen) over contempt for a clearly bad one (Trump). How can we ever expect to offer robust resistance to a swaggering authoritarian like Trump if our inclination is always to find someone to bend the knee to?
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