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Fionola Meredith: Trump's visit to Ireland making his opponents look even more sanctimonious than Orange One

The anti-Donald brigade should beware of their own Trumpishness, says Fionola Meredith - as it's very contagious


Outraged politicians and campaigners have called on President Trump to be banned from making a trip to Ireland in November

Outraged politicians and campaigners have called on President Trump to be banned from making a trip to Ireland in November


Outraged politicians and campaigners have called on President Trump to be banned from making a trip to Ireland in November

The only thing worse than Donald Trump coming to Ireland in November will be the anti-Trump reaction it generates. Going by the shrieks and howls of agonised rage that have been brought on by the idea - the very idea - of The Donald jetting in to the west coast for a round of golf, the reality is going to be much, much worse.

To be quite clear, it's not the basic act of protesting against the US President that I have a problem with. Indeed, I'd be very happy to take part in a protest against Trump (though I would draw the line at wearing one of those ridiculous woollen 'pussy hats'). He stands for much that I despise in politics.

Monstrously ignorant and arrogant, bloated with pompous self-importance, contemptuous of the truth - which he treats like play-doh, to be moulded into any ridiculous shape he likes - Trump is a slave to his own vanity. It is frightening to have a spoiled narcissistic toddler in charge at the White House.

And that's before you get on to the casual misogyny, the racism, the caging of migrant children - well, you know the whole indefensible story. Basically, he's a demagogue in a nappy. No wonder senator John McCain didn't want him at his funeral.

So by all means, count me in when the anti-Trump placards are being given out.

But please, please, please, buy me a big pair of ear-plugs too.

Because the part I can't stand is the loud, self-congratulatory bray of virtue-signalling that is the modern soundtrack to such demonstrations.

It's not really about rejecting Trump as a politician.

It's about showing everyone how wonderfully enlightened and morally pure you are.

We are the good people, such protesters are basically saying. We are on the side of the angels. The very opposite of that nasty, evil, devil man whom we all hate so much, Mr Trump.

Thus legitimate, well-founded criticism becomes a form of preening self-congratulation, with the end result that such people disappear up their own fundamentals.

The politicians' race for maximum virtue is already well under way. Eamon Ryan, the Green Party leader in the south, was fast out of the blocks. He doesn't want Trump to be permitted to set foot in Ireland at all. "We're calling on the Irish people to tell our government to cancel this visit and for them to demonstrate in never-before-seen numbers should they fail to do so," he said.

Not to be outdone, Labour leader Brendan Howlin said that his party would "join with like-minded people to oppose this visit".

A statement from the Irish Labour party later added: "We are an open and tolerant nation. Trump's values are not our values and there should be no welcome mat laid out for a man of his world-view."

Like I said, I'm a staunch opponent of Trump's behaviour and policies, and the indignity he brings to the office of president. No red carpet cheers or shamrock presentations from me.

But I don't think you can call yourself open and tolerant if you want to ban a man, let alone the democratically-elected leader of the United States, from physically entering the country.

Protest, yes. Ban, no - not if you consider yourself a democrat who believes in freedom of movement.

Trying to censor Trump is an act of political immaturity. It also won't work - the Orange One will certainly come here, if he chooses, to swagger around his luxury golf links at Doonbeg - but that doesn't matter. All that virtue-signallers are really interested in is polishing their haloes, and scrambling to see which of them can get on to the very highest moral ground.

In the US, protesting against the president is apparently described as 'the new brunch' - a pleasurable indulgence for the well-off.

And while Trump himself is certainly fair game for the strongest criticism, what really troubles me is when the anti-Trump brigade turn their contempt on his supporters, the people who voted for him.

That is a phenomenally bad idea, if you genuinely oppose the sitting president, because it's precisely such sneering, lecturing attitudes that will get Trump re-elected - maybe on a landslide - for another term. Nobody ever changed their voting habits because they were scorned as a dumb, deadbeat red-neck, too thick to see what's good for them.

The irony is that by carrying on in such a childish, petulant, intolerant and self-aggrandising way, seeking to abuse and discredit those who disagree with them, many opponents of Trump's visit to Ireland are acting exactly like him.

They are behaving Trumpishly.

And that's never a good look, for anyone.

Belfast Telegraph

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