Getting Clear on Trump’s United Kingdom Visit – Opting Out

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Donald Trump’s state visit to the United Kingdom yesterday continued with the President joining the Queen at the annual D-Day commemoration. This followed an interview with Good Morning Britain’s Piers Morgan to clarify comments made about the “sale” of the National Health Service (NHS) to American companies (American readers might remember Morgan’s failed turn as a CNN talk show host, or perhaps America’s Got Talent.)

This week’s visit, in general, has encouraged enough wailing and gnashing of teeth to last three months. Let’s get clear about some of the most controversial things:

First of all, the visit, like last time, has been accompanied by big protests by left-wing activists, supporting women’s rights, action on climate change, et cetera. On Tuesday, a Trump-supporting elderly gentleman was pushed over by a gang of enthusiastic protestors, again revealing, at least to right-of-center commentators, the essential nasty nature of lefties. “They’re hypocrites,” et cetera. In response, one of the protestors apologized and deleted her Twitter account.

Look, I’m not going to say the guy was asking for it, but if you’re at a protest and you see an old man, no matter what views he has, just try not to knock him over. Yet is this event particularly controversial or revealing? No. The purpose of going to a protest is in hope if not expectation of some argy-bargy. You’re almost wishing for someone you hate to be there just so you can get in a bit of a scuffle. This is normal.

If you disagree with Trump’s policies, it’s natural that you’re going to raise these issues if he happens to be making a public visit to your country. State visits are a good opportunity to air one’s grievances about matters that pertain to that country’s relationship to your own. What I’m baffled with, and have been ever since he was elected, however, is why Brits have such special and unique hate for this particular president.

All presidents up to now have been a net negative for humanity. There has yet to be one, at least in the 20th and 21st centuries, that has not presided over mass civilian deaths overseas. Since Woodrow Wilson, the United States has pursued a foreign policy of domination and destabilization. Millions have died for their “freedom.” To facilitate the empire, they’ve systemically violated the civil rights of their populace and spied on everyone else too. There hasn’t been one president who even pretended to reverse this.

The only difference between Trump and other US presidents, and I am claiming no novelty value for this point, is that he does not care for the trappings of respectability. He has no issue with being brash and uncouth. He’s carried himself with some decorum on this visit — he is hanging out with the Queen of England after all — but as far as his relationship with the media is concerned: no Fs given.

What this says about the people who take particular issue with Trump is quite embarrassing: They would otherwise accept the legitimacy of authority and statism provided the state’s figurehead stuck to the party line. They’re pleading to have the wool pulled back over their eyes.

As for this latest zinger that we’re almost compelled to bring our hands to our mouths for — yep, it’s another nothingburger. Trump was asked at a press conference with Theresa May whether the NHS would be “on the table” in any negotiations over a post-Brexit trade deal. After being reminded about what it was by the Prime Minister, he said that everything would be on the table.

I think he believed that that sentiment would be received positively. Oops! After a quarter of a million people signed a petition for Trump to “keep [his] hands of our NHS!”, and presumably a quiet word with his advisors, he backtracked, reaffirming his desire to negotiate a deal that’s great for everybody.

That hasn’t settled the left, who have been warning against NHS privatization for decades. One might think, just by reading the headlines, that American companies were primed with their checkbooks to acquire all the hospitals in Britain. In actual fact, any trade deals involving the US would simply entail that American companies could also compete for provision that is already being contracted out by the NHS. Nothing is getting any more private than it already is.

It makes me wonder what these people think privatization actually means — that any private involvement is unconscionable, and that everyone involved in the NHS should be elected?

So as usual, the things we are meant to be outraged about aren’t really worth blinking at.

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James Smith

Writer and film-maker from the United Kingdom. Digital nomad. Author of 'The Shy Guy's Guide to Travelling'.

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