Curtain Raiser

Turn Back the Right Tide, Colltalers

Unemployment; corruption; politics. These are priorities to most of the estimated 30-million-plus Spaniards who voted yesterday for a new Spanish parliament. But to the media, it’s Catalonia’s aim to split up from Spain, along immigration, what tops that list.
Meanwhile, the brutal assassination of Northern Ireland journalist Lyra McKee, on the 18th, wound up shaking the foundations of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The Brexit fiasco notwithstanding, however, Protestants and Catholics must resume talks.
The rise of Vox, Spain’s far right party, will strengthen forces contrary to social equality and political autonomy in Europe, but that’s not this week’s most despondent endorsement of Steve Bannon’s international playbook. Italy ran away with the prize: on the 74th anniversary of Liberation Day, last Thursday, it was dictator Benito Mussolini’s name what was invoked with… pride!
Bannon, the most visible global reactionary since his woeful tenure delivering Trump to the White House, – or political hacks who eagerly emulate his tactics – keeps pushing all the red buttons of hate and intolerance, either in Europe or South America.
A lot of Americans got transfixed with two issues, this waning end of April: the massive body count of entertainment franchises The Avengers, and Game of Thrones, and Beyoncé’s latest chart-breaking CD-film combo. Others had something else in mind.
Has the Robert Mueller Report’s failure to paint a clear picture of the U.S. president’s malfeasances got him reelected next year?
As Trump openly challenges Congress’ authority to subpoena him, or key figures of his organization, naturally counting on a biased Supreme Court to back him up if needed, many wonder if he’ll now act, rather than just speak, as if he’s above the law.
He sure seems ready to do just as such. In over two years, he’s destroyed U.S.’s credibility in a vast array of issues the world’s entrusted to America, from leadership against climate change, to defense of civil rights, free press, and fair immigration

laws. His biggest legislative coup so far was approving a trillion-dollar, budget-busting tax cut to the wealthy and big corporations.
Still, support for him among the poor who voted for him in 2016, remains unchallenged, and as absolutely no one expects the Republican Party to disavow him, now even its richest donors, who’d previously snubbed him, can’t wait to sign him fat checks.
Never mind the increased number of right-wing extremists, caught with small arsenals and hit lists of well-known political liberals. And let’s not mention how easy they’re getting breaks from law enforcement, out of sheer racial identification with their white supremacist messages. Trump’s made praising domestic terrorists, and other zealots, a feature of his campaign speeches. Those riled-up, scary rallies, are prone to rise to a frenzy whenever the president calls up for them go after the independent press, or whistleblowers. And most of his constituency seems to be taking literally his clues. It’s clear what that might lead us all to.
Just as it’s been always clear the potential for Brexit to start messing around with hard-earned foundations of the stability of the entire U.K, and in particular, the Good Friday accord. After all, borders have been a sticky, almost sore point in every exit talk.
Suddenly, it dawned on even its staunchest defenders, that any boundary negotiation among the commonwealth’s four countries, and between the U.K. and Europe, could fire up resentments, reopen wounds, and undue almost a century of uneasy partnership.
Again, most could’ve guessed that, but apparently not those in charge of coming up with solutions they hadn’t anticipated before, even though they must definitely should have. Some even dream of a reunited Ireland, a bleak prospect to the U.K.’s own future.
One can only hope that the slaying of McKee, a gifted journalist who was covering unrest in Londonderry, is all that’ll take for a new resolve for preventing the Troubles from ever returning to Northern Ireland again. Sadly, the 29-year-old LBGTQ activist, who dreamt and wrote about that, and coined the term, ‘Ceasefire Babies’ for her generation, no longer will be around to see it.
The Mussolini episode, though, illustrates how actually close we are from repeating tragic mistakes from the past. Once-fringe far right parties in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, and elsewhere, are already jockeying to coalesce into a unified, continental-wide front of ‘pro-wealth populists.’ Even more so if they manage to win seats at the May 23-26 European Parliament elections.
The difference between what Spaniards considered important, alluded to at the opening sentence, and what the media is ‘selling’ as such, is an all too familiar example of manipulation of the people’s will. There, here and everywhere, the establishment is all for advancing its own agenda, turning electoral contests into horse races, for maximum distraction. And it sells, of course.
The Catalan, by the way, beat poll records, but there’s still no sign that their independence wishes got a boost with the elections. More likely the dream lives on for another day. Europeans are doing their part, virtually stopping the rise of the ultra right on the sheer power of voting, as Spain showed. But their margins of victory are getting slimmer, unlike intolerance and prejudice.
Once again, it’ll be up to Americans to stop madness on its tracks – even if it doesn’t look promising at this point. Vigilantes; white supremacists; climate change deniers; authoritarianism and corruption, all festering with the Hater-in-Chief’s blessing, will have to be at least neutralized by the time a needed record poll turnout will elect a new president. Let’s get very busy, shall we?
‘Why do we scream at each other. This is what it sounds like when doves cry.’ It’s been three years and a week yesterday since Prince passed away, along a slew of celebrities who preceded and followed him, on that fateful 2016. When ‘His Purpleness’ left us, we were arguably more hopeful about the future: the U.K. couldn’t possibly be split up, and Obama was still the U.S. president.
Of the three, only Prince can’t come back. His music lives on, though, even if hope is at its lowest at the moment. Let’s mourn our losses, but carry on, on the account of the living. May’s knocking on our door; let’s welcome it as a revolution. Cheers. WC


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