Alternative pasts


Donald Trump has played his most recent hand, in a heated public game, against the press. It is not the first time and, it seems, it won’t be the last, given the short and yet bewildering series of actions Mr. President has put up to North America and the world. During the rally he organized last week, with the sole aim of boosting his not-for-a-while-self-deprecating sense of morality, and indulged himself, once again, as the guardian of the “truth,” the media became his latest target. Reporters and news platforms were proclaimed “the enemy of the people,” a “dishonest” branch of a “conspiracy” that is, apparently, devoted to pulling the man down because it is casting doubt on him. This last coup of Trump’s ire would indeed be just annoying, if it were not so troublesome. Though he cannot be taken seriously, he is dead serious when he takes the stand.
The problem with Trump’s unscrupulous approach to people who are working to make him accountable for often poorly-framed and limited readings of events and facts in domestic and international policy, is that by conveying an alternative version of facts, he is actually producing something else: alternative truths to history that is being made. The press is amongst the few agencies in a position today to fight the battle it has been unwillingly dragged into. It should remain committed to its code – report the facts and protect its sources – so it is empowered.
As if it were not perplexing enough, Trump announced last Saturday that he won’t be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, which will take place on April 29 (I get the feeling he might not be missed). If it stands by its ideals, the gathering should become a strong statement against the incumbent administration.
And why should it be of any concern to Macau and Macau residents that the United States’ President bullies his way into governance? Because he is the image of many harms that make the world a sad place: abuse of power, manipulation, populism, and ignorance. The history and the present are crammed with examples of policies and governments who have trickled great countries and peoples down the drain of history as disillusions to human kind. We don’t have to travel as far as Europe or the Americas to find them. Can’t we just aspire to be better – not great, fantastic, or huge – but just better?