Lacerating laughter

The American writer T.S. Eliot has been on my mind recently. Preparing a farewell address for my mother to be spoken at the crematorium I decided to conclude with some lines from the Four Quartets, about endings, beginnings and discovering greater knowledge. I have always appreciated his melancholic reflections on the upsides and downsides of human behaviour.

After the funeral I watched some YouTube videos showing the tragic antics of the fool who is currently President of the United States of America. Somewhat extraordinary stupidity was on display in front of the assembled dignitaries at the United Nations in New York, where the President’s boasting and lies prompted a wave of laughter from the audience! Imagine, the supposedly most powerful person on the planet, ridiculed and humiliated by the representatives of almost all other nations, unable to restrain themselves when confronted with the farcical spectacle of a crass mobster telling them that his country is great… Imagine, in the same speech the man not only attacked the Iranian government, the Chinese and other ”socialists” – fairly standard stuff from the “leader of the free world” – he also praised his good friend ”the Chairman” of North Korea (Kim Jong-un), a bloodthirsty and vicious dictator if ever there was one. What values and beliefs has he signed up to, if any?

In reporting from the United Nations session, the American TV channel Fox News – to which Mr. Trumpet is apparently addicted – erased the laughter of the delegates to make the President seem less foolish. Like all the best propaganda machines the people at Fox News know that it is important to manage the truth…

Then, on further reflection I realised that the whole performance disgusted me. As Eliot wrote, one of the gifts reserved for old age is ”the laceration of laughter at what ceases to amuse.” In one sense I know that the best way to confront the absurdity of a president going off the rails is to chortle and smile, to expose his narcissism and delusional rhetoric. On the other hand, the awful truth is that behind the scenes, an odd bunch of white supremacists, “patriots” (sic) and conservative warmongers appear to be gearing up for a showdown, which won’t be a laughing matter.

Equally disturbing is that the Republicans and Trumped up lost the US election in 2016 by over 3 million votes, but still took over “the administration” due to an anachronistic electoral system. To round off their disrespect for the law and to demonstrate that they have no principles, the President has nominated a judge to serve on the Supreme Court who has attempted rape on his conscience. T.S. Eliot was right, in these circumstances laughter only lacerates, as the old men in the Grand Old Party have long since ceased to amuse.


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