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Letter: An apology from Gilead

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally June 20 in Duluth, Minn. — Jim Mone/The Associated Press
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally June 20 in Duluth, Minn. — Jim Mone/The Associated Press - Associated Press

Your brilliant Margaret Atwood was prescient.

The fabric of “The Handmaid’s Tale” is currently being woven in the United States. The stitches of that fabric are lies. Obvious lies, but if you repeat lies enough, people start believing them. If you hammer people with lies, they internalize that narrative without realizing it or throw up their hands and relent.

Trump’s outrageous policies and behaviour are all part of the grand plan. He’s not stupid. I don’t mean he has a high IQ, as he claims, far from it. He’ll be as quick to reveal IQ results as he is his tax records.

But he is a businessman. Not a good one, given all his failed businesses, but he has a strategy. It’s not clever, but it is bull-in-a-china-shop effective. He creates chaos. He thrives on it because it’s disruptive and upsetting and takes no real skill. Anyone can be vulgar and provocative and a bully. Thus far, our presidents have chosen to at least act, well, presidential. This one prides himself on standing out, even if it’s in a negative, ignorant way. Creating chaos, putting society on a roller coaster ride, means people eventually become numb or exhausted — the perfect recipe for tyranny. In the midst of that confusion and exhaustion, a tyrant becomes a “strong leader” and takes over.

And here is my apology – although I did not, and never would, vote for Trump. I’m sorry we have a bully of a president who likes to stir things up, not just in our country but everywhere, making the entire world unsafe.

That leads to lies — tweets — such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “Very dishonest & weak,” and that he made “false statements at his news conference.” There were, of course, no false statements, only reasonable assertions and facts. Basically, Trump is the playground bully who beats up the nice, smart kid because he thinks it’ll show how tough he is. Notice Trump’s language: “weak,” and “acted so meek and mild,” trying to equate Trudeau’s diplomacy and decorum with “weak,” the opposite of “strong,” which is what he would like to believe he is.

And here is my apology – although I did not, and never would, vote for Trump. I’m sorry we have a bully of a president who likes to stir things up, not just in our country but everywhere, making the entire world unsafe. I’m sorry he is attacking Prime Minister Trudeau. I’m sorry he’s hurting Canadians. I have a special connection to Canada, not just because my mother’s family came from Tracey, New Brunswick (Tracey being my mother’s maiden name).

I lived in St. John’s from 1972 to 1975 because my father ran the U.S. Consulate General which used to be on King’s Bridge Road (now the Anglican Diocesan Resource Centre).

I was a young teen and, frankly, embarrassed to be an American. The U.S. was still fighting in Vietnam. There were protests against the war outside the Consulate  — we lived in the same building — and it was all my mother could do to stop herself, and her daughters, from joining those demonstrations. At the same time, the Watergate scandal was unfolding. We were stunned and disgusted at the deceitful, paranoid man our president revealed himself to be.

That was a walk in Bannerman Park or a bike ride around Quidi Vidi, compared to this.

Now, I am even more shocked and embarrassed — horrified, actually, given that our current president is way more of a loose cannon than Nixon. And sorry that his impulsive trade policies affect Canada. I urge you to keep taking the high road, like Prime Minister Trudeau. Don’t let our president bully you, and find a way to survive and thrive without bowing to him.

Also, please don’t close your southern border. You may be our only escape. Unlike our Gilead-style administration, we know you won’t kidnap our children.

Kathryn (née Dobbs) Erskine
Charlottesville, Va.

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