And the Date Was Nineteen Eighty Four


What happened on the 8th of November 2016 sent a shock-wave all around the globe. A shock-wave which shook the status quo to the core and created a new discourse among the scholar and the intellectual, who since have desperately been trying to explain what had become of America. What brought Americans to this breaking point to fiercely and radically forsake their inborn values and sink this low to allow a clown, arguably, become their president, their face to the world. Some argue that Trump is an evil genius, who premeditatedly devised a populist discourse to deceive and mislead the American electorate in order to advance his wicked and unholy agenda, which is solely to benefit the affluent class, the one percent. Some others believe that the latter argument has generously overrated Trump’s intellect. They claim that Trump is not the cause, but the consequence of a decline of morality in American society. Another group of analysts attribute this not to a moral decline, but a miscalculated outburst out of frustration. Some say Russian meddling played an influential role, whereas some others conjecture that what the democratic party unfairly did to Bernie brought his young and highly indignant and delicate supporters to the verge of defection. Some even blame the electoral college system. Since the catastrophe struck, TV presenters, political pundits, talk show hosts, columnists, philosophers, anthropologists and on and on have attempted to explain the situation, but no one has ever done it better than Salman Rushdie in his latest novel, The Golden House. He masterfully captures the essence of Trumpism and what caused it through his powerful and unrivalled grasp on words. Enjoy:

Golden House “… America had left reality behind and entered the comic-book universe; DC was under attack by DC. It was the year of the Joker in Gotham and beyond. The Caped Crusader was nowhere to be seen – it was not an age of heroes – but his arch-rival in the purple frock coat and striped pantaloons was ubiquitous, clearly delighted to have the stage to himself and hogging the limelight with evident delight. He had seen off the Suicide Squad, his feeble competition, but he permitted a few of his interiors to think of themselves as future members of a Joker administration. The Penguin, the Riddler, Two-Face and Poison Ivy lined up behind the Joker in packed arenas, swaying like doo-wop backing singers while their leader spoke of the unrivalled beauty of white skin and red lips to adoring audiences wearing green fright wigs and chanting in unison, Ha! Ha! Ha! The origins of the Joker were disputed, the man himself seemed to enjoy allowing contradictory versions to fight for airspace, but on one fact everyone, passionate supporters and bitter antagonists, was agreed: he was utterly and certifiably insane. What was astonishing, what made this an election year like no other, was that people backed him because he was insane, not in spite of it. What would have disqualified any other candidate made him his followers’ hero. Sikh taxi drivers and rodeo cow-boys, rabid alt-right blondes and black brain Surgeons agreed, we love his craziness, no milquetoast euphemism from him, he shoots straight from the hip, says whatever he fucking wants to say, robs whatever bank he’s in the mood to rob, kills whoever he feels like killing, he’s our guy. The black bat-knight has flown! It’s a new day, and it’s going to be a scream! All hail the United States of Joker! USJ! USJ! USJ!

Salman_Rushdie_by_Kubik_03bisIt was a year of two bubbles. In one of those bubbles, the Joker shrieked and the laugh crowds laughed right on cue. In that bubble the climate was not changing and the end of the arctic ice cap was just a new real estate opportunity. In that bubble, gun murderers were exercising their constitutional rights but the parents of murdered children were un-American. In that bubble, if its inhabitants were victorious, the president of the neighbouring country to the south which was sending rapists and killers to America would be forced to pay for a wall dividing the two nations to keep the killers and rapists south of the border where they belonged; and crime would end; and the country’s enemies would be defeated instantly and overwhelmingly; and mass deportations would be a good thing; and women reporters would be seen to be unreliable because they had blood coming out of their whatevers; and the parents of dead war heroes would be revealed to be working for radical Islam; and international treaties would not have to be honoured; and Russia would be a friend and that would have nothing whatsoever to do with the Russian oligarchs propping up the Joker’s shady enterprises; and the meanings of things would change; multiple bankruptcies would be understood to prove great business expertise; and three and a half thousand lawsuits against you would be understood to prove business acumen; and stifling your contractors would prove your tough-guy business attitude; and a crooked university would prove your commitment to education; and while the Second Amendment would be sacred the First would not be; so those who criticised the leader would suffer consequences; and African Americans would go along with it all because what the hell did they have to lose. In that bubble knowledge was ignorance, up was down, and the right person to hold the nuclear codes in his hand was the green-haired white-skinned red-slash-mouthed giggler who asked a military briefing team four times why using nuclear weapons was so bad. In that bubble, razor-tipped playing cards were funny, and lapel flowers that sprayed acid into people’s faces were funny, and wishing you could have sex with your daughter was funny, and sarcasm was funny even when what was called sarcasm was not sarcastic, and lying was funny. and hatred was funny, and bigotry was funny, and bullying was funny, and the date was, or almost was, or might soon be, if the jokes worked out as they should, nineteen eighty-four.” [1]

 [1] Rushdie, Salman, The Golden House, London: Jonathan Cape, 2017, pp.243-244