In two words, Robert De Niro expressed his opinion of the president of the United States on the eve of Donald Trump’s meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un: Fuck Trump. This happened even though the two leaders would be discussing the possible denuclearization of North Korea.
According to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, even if Trump’s steps lead to a Nobel Peace Prize, Trump still deserves an Ignoble Prize. Friedman thinks Trump’s refusal to sign the joint declaration at the G-7 summit in Canada presents the United States in the president’s image: “selfish, dishonest totally unpredictable ready to stab any ally in the back and much more comfortable with mafia-like dictators than elected democrats,” he wrote on June 12.
Trump can be accused of selfishness and a lack of values, but he’s not “unpredictable” – on the contrary. He consistently tries to achieve three goals that he declared during the presidential election campaign: change the U.S. economy from one of consumption to production; reduce the number of illegal immigrants, who he claims are stealing jobs from the American working class and threatening U.S. culture; and lift the threats to the country’s security. These goals are intertwined and were designed to fulfill his vision to “make America great again.”
It’s easy to understand why the East Coast (Manhattan) and West Coast (Hollywood) elite is coming out against Trump. Its members don’t live among his electorate, who come mainly from Rust Belt states in the center of the country where hundreds of factories for manufacturing steel, cars and electronics, the glory of American industry, have collapsed.
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Skilled blue-collar workers who in the past enjoyed a good standard of living have lost their jobs and dignity over the past three decades. Their children are dropping out of school; many are becoming drug addicts or suffering from homelessness. Barack Obama offered them cheaper health insurance; Trump aspires to get their jobs back.
Unfortunately for the elitists, Trump insists on blaming globalization. According to him, U.S. allies in Western Europe and the Far East, as well as neighbors Canada and Mexico, exploited his country’s liberal values in order to flood America with cars and electronics, and to bring in masses of cheap laborers (mainly from Mexico) until they caused the collapse of U.S. industry and the ensuing unemployment. At the same time these allies benefit from the protection of the U.S. military via NATO and the defense agreements with Japan and South Korea.
Trump’s refusal to sign the joint declaration at the G-7 summit because “other countries expect America will always be their bank” is a signal he doesn’t intend to accept the rules of the game in which Canada, for example, exports most of its oil, gas and electricity to the United States but imposes high tariffs on imports. It’s no wonder that the Canadian prime minister isn’t a big fan of Trumpism.
Similarly, Trump’s declaration on the cancellation of joint military maneuvers with South Korea isn’t only a gesture to North Korea, it’s a wake-up call to South Korea and Japan: You can’t have the best of both worlds. Either you return part of the capital you’ve accumulated from the American market by paying the U.S. military, or defend yourselves on your own.
Trump sees the G-7 countries as business competitors, whereas the nuclear alliance between North Korea and Iran is a strategic threat, and to eliminate it North Korea must be neutralized and Iran isolated. That’s the logic behind his attempt to rid North Korea of its nuclear arms and missiles shortly after he canceled the nuclear agreement with Iran and pressured members of the European Union to cancel the trade agreements with Tehran.
According to Trumpian logic, Iran is a strategic enemy because as long as it gains strength in the Middle East there will be no stability there and millions of Muslims will continue to stream into Europe and Canada, after the Canadian prime minister enthusiastically suggested that they come to his country. That’s the reason for the disgust with Trump on the part of the leaders of Germany and France: They want to benefit from trade with Iran, and to hell with human rights there.
And while they’re ignoring the Iranians’ human rights, they’re receiving millions of Muslim immigrants and bringing forward the day when liberal values die out in Europe, too.
Unfortunately for them, the vulgar man who has settled in the White House is exposing their hypocrisy and greed that motivates them, and for that he can’t be forgiven. Nor can he be forgiven in Manhattan and Hollywood. Until recently Trump could be accused of a disdainful and sexist attitude toward women, and even of sexual harassment. After Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo campaign, which exposed Hollywood’s shame, even that pleasure is denied its stars. Truly, Fuck Trump.
Mor Altshuler is a scholar of Jewish thought.