Insofar as it is our entitlement to offer unequivocal judgments about the characters of others, and heaven knows I do my own fair share, one can probably estimate that Donald Trump comes pretty low down on the humanity scale.
That does not absolve us from attempting to keep a sense of proportion about the new President. The highly-strung reactions to our MP’s observations from three contributors in the letters pages of January 20 suggest we need to work at it.
Caroline Ansell receives it in the neck for suggesting we need to be ‘pragmatic’ about Mr Trump. The Concise Oxford Dictionary gives us two meanings of the word: ‘dealing with matters with regard to their practical requirements or consequences’ and ‘treating the facts of history with reference to their practical lessons’.
The single word common to both definitions is ‘practical’. Your correspondents should mark that well, for their apparent alternatives smack of anything but practicality.
With the current visit to Washington we even have comparisons made between Theresa May and Joseph Chamberlain (I think the writer meant Neville). As far as I can see, Mr Trump has not sent his forces into Canada to take over the sovereign parliament in Ottawa. Nor has he gone into Mexico City with the same motive. On the contrary he has shown signs of pulling up the drawbridge on all fronts.
For further comparisons with Hitler and Mussolini, we shall see in the next four years whether we get the equivalent of Kristallnacht and the establishment of concentration camps to house all of America’s Jews and homosexuals. I can’t visualise it somehow.
In his inauguration speech, Mr Trump invoked the name of God more than once. Christianity is nothing if not about forgiveness and the chance to redeem the self. The new President might surprise us over the next four years and show the world his own capacity for redemption.
Until or unless that happens, pragmatism in our dealings with him will be more productive than hysteria.
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