At one time, a mere 10 months ago or so, America had an intelligent, articulate, thoughtful and decent man in the White House.
Now we have a white supremacist buffoon. Lord, what have we done? When you contrast the viewpoints of Barack Obama and Donald Trump regarding Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players’ refusal to stand for the national anthem as a protest against police brutality, the reality hits home like a brick.
I like it when people have the guts to take a stand, even if it may cost them millions of dollars and intense backlash. Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand during the national anthem definitely has people talking as of late.
And I think it’s funny how some of the same people who are mad about Kaepernick complaining about America, because he’s rich, want to elect a billionaire named Trump, who has built a presidential campaign complaining about how America isn’t great.
I have been reading different reactions to these statues of a naked Donald Trump that have popped up in cities around America, and it seems that most people find them somewhat distasteful. There’s also the “imagine if someone did this to Hillary…” trope. Some people say that while Trump may have it coming, that we shouldn’t stoop to the level of “body shaming,” etc. The statues are from the art group INDECLINE.
I look at it in the context of protest art. Sure, the statues may be in poor taste, offensive to look at or humiliating. But let’s not forget that this is a man who has slandered the president as the founder of America’s most hated terrorist enemy, as well as not so subtly suggested that people shoot his opponent. These are just the recent examples of the type of garbage that has come from Trump’s mouth, and don’t begin to demonstrate the types of things he has said and done to shame and mock other people.
So, it’s not surprising to me that an artist or group of artists might go to extremes in desecrating Trump’s image. To quote Cesar A. Cruz, “art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” The time for politeness regarding Trump is long gone.
And comparing it to someone doing the same to Hillary is bogus. Like her policies or not, Hillary Clinton has not gone out of her way to insult and degrade a multitude of people across the nation. So, yes, if someone did the same to Hillary, it would be seen as going too far, and with good reason. It’s just not the same with Trump.
As a general rule of thumb, when talking about how people relate to one another, “when they go low, we go high” should be the approach. We should try our best to not stoop to the level of someone like Trump. But when it comes to art, I think all bets are off. I don’t see this the same way I would see someone sending out private pics of Trump to humiliate him, for example.
Donald Trump has taken a no-holds barred approach to his campaign. He speaks his mind. He says what he means. He’s not “politically correct” Let’s not expect the opposite from artists making a statement about him.
There’s a knee-jerk reaction that I would say most people have when it comes to the question of whether or not violence can solve anything. Most would probably say that violence isn’t an answer to any of our problems, and in fact, often makes the situation worse. The riots in Baltimore this week have me pondering this question, and increasingly wondering if that automatic response is actually correct.
I am beginning to wonder if, in certain contexts, violence such as what’s happened in Baltimore can actually spur action from the powers that be when all else has failed. Of course, the moral question of whether it is right or wrong is pretty simple. It’s not right. But I wonder – is it sometimes a necessary evil?
The events that have unfolded this week are a small portion of the overall protests, which have been peaceful. But I think the violence in part stemmed from an ongoing frustration with that fact – that protests have been going on for weeks and months concerning the issue of police brutality, and nothing seems to be changing, and nobody seems to care. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the media chooses to focus on the issue only when they deem it newsworthy – that is, when windows start getting smashed and things start getting set on fire. You could say that the attention that is received when this happens is mostly negative, but it is attention, and maybe that’s what matters when the situation becomes so drastic in the hearts and minds of those most affected.
Throughout our history, we have had to resort to violence and destruction to spur change, for the sake of the greater good. The American Revolution was hardly peaceful. Neither was the Civil War. Or World War Two. Of course, those are examples of war, which is not the same as a riot or insurrection. Nevertheless, it is violence. The changes that came about as a result of resorting to drastic measures might not have happened if peace and non-violence was adamantly adhered to. Which begs the question – where is the line drawn between accepted, necessary violence and that which is deemed counterproductive?
Say what you want about people destroying “their own” city or communities. What people forget about rioting is that it is a complete rejection of the institutions and established order that people feel no longer serve them. It might be ugly. It might bring pain. But one thing that’s for sure, those in power certainly don’t like to see people start to rebel and revolt against the status-quo, and it certainly won’t be ignored, for better or worse.
Photo credit – Pixabay.com – OpenClips