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Q&A

Last summer, somebody asked on Quora “Why do many British people not like Donald Trump“. They got back 43 answers. Here’s one of them:

A few things spring to mind.

Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.

For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace – all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.

So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing – not once, ever.

I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility – for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is – his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.

And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults – he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.
Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront.

Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.
And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist.

Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that.

He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat.

He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.

That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a bully’s snivelling sidekick instead.

There are unspoken rules to this stuff – the Queensberry rules of basic decency – and he breaks them all. He punches downwards – which a gentleman should, would, could never do – and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless – and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority – perhaps a third – of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think ‘Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:

1. Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.
2. You don’t need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.

After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.

In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish:

‘My God… what… have… I… created?

If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.

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6 Comments

  1. ebdoug wrote:

    Failing to mention that according to reports, every other word he utters in the White House starts with “F”

    Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at 7:34 am | Permalink
  2. Jonah wrote:

    Ironic that the brits have a low opinion of Trump. The majority of them voted to start a process that ultimately may have contributed to Trump’s rise and if its even possible, the current UK government is finding it even harder than the dems and republicans in coming to an agreement for the good of their country.I think the last people whose opinion matters would be the brits. IF things keep going the way they are right now this country will become irrelevant in the not too distant future.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at 9:31 am | Permalink
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    They were going easy on him.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at 11:23 am | Permalink
  4. Hassan wrote:

    TL;DR Trump is a genuine asshole

    Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at 11:26 am | Permalink
  5. notycoon22 wrote:

    Jonah, I spent two weeks in Scotland and Northern Ireland in September. Virtually everyone we interacted asked about Drumpf. I’d always turn it around right off the bat and ask what they thought. The results of my totally unscientific poll showed that 100% of those queried felt Drumpf was a menace to world order. This result continued in Germany and The Netherlands.

    As to Brexit – about 25% of UK voters voted to leave the EU. Just as we see here in the US, about half the qualified voters didn’t bother to vote. You bet the Brits are in a real bind, but that doesn’t mean that the gentleman that wrote the above has an opinion that is of no value. I’d say he speaks for the folks who talked with us on our trip.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at 3:03 pm | Permalink
  6. Jonah wrote:

    Notycoon, both NI and scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain so its not surprising that their views are as you described. I happen to know several well educated people who voted leave. The reason is quite simple. They are wealthy and would not be adversely affected by a leave. In some cases they would personally benefit due to niche opportunities. In other cases the reasons differed. For example a friend who runs a business opined that the growth was in Asia and therefore UK was better off trying to get a trade agreement with Asia. What he didnt seem about was what exactly the UK would trade with Asian countries. I don’t yet have a complete understanding of the UK economy but to me the biggest driver is the services industry and its a mystery why any asian country would sign a meaningfull trade agreement with the UK once it leaves the EU.

    Anyway i digress. The bottomline is I find brits to be hypocrites. They cry shame about Trump and others they feel offensive but they pay less attention to people who are equally offensive like farage who are already in the UK. However as you point there are a good number of good decent people and for that reason for now i prefer being in the UK.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2019 at 5:59 am | Permalink

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