Dear President Trump: ‘Please don’t kill us all’
Conor Pope, Michael Harding and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin write to the 45th US president
From Michael Harding
Dear Donald, – My heart goes out to you every time I turn on the television. It’s amazing how much rage you arouse in people when you open your mouth: jihadis, CIA assassins, Chinese fishermen, civil-rights activists, film stars and Mexican hotel cleaners, not to mention all the people who didn’t attend your inauguration. It must be very stressful to feel so unloved.
And the media are only adding to your upset. At your press conference last week the journalists looked silly even before you slapped one of them down in order to make the others squirm. Squashing 250 of them into a space that would hardly fit 100 had effectively stripped them of professional dignity before you started. There’s no doubt you’re a master of the circus ring, but I’m worried about the damage all this anger is doing to your health.
When I see your face muscles so constricted by wrath that you can barely speak, and your bloodshot eyes begin to sink in folds of swollen flesh like the eyes of an alligator slithering into a Florida swamp, my heart goes out to you. Poor little Donald, I think.
I watch the television with a bottle of holy water at hand, ready to speckle it and pray that you will escape this circus of political insanity eventually, and calm yourself.
I wonder if you have ever heard of Glenstal Abbey. It’s a fine monastery where they pray all through the night. So if you didn’t sleep well you could pray through the dark hours instead of twittering your rage on the internet. Alternatively, there is a Buddhist centre in west Cork where you could gaze over the cliff at the ocean and contemplate the shortness of life.
And I am told that there are splendid Orthodox monasteries near St Petersburg where the choirs sing Rachmaninov to melt the heart, which you might consider if you happen to be in that neck of the woods any time soon. Have you ever tried a bit of t’ai chi or reflexology, Donald? I know a woman in Mayo who works miracles with the feet.
In short there is no end of possibilities if you want to calm down. And I haven’t even mentioned psychotherapy, which has worked wonders for me.
One way or another you need to do something about the anger. It makes your face ugly. It disturbs children who want to watch the Grinch. They turn on CNN by accident and get completely confused.
“Donald is not the Grinch,” I keep telling them. But you are not a monster either. You are a human being in pain. Your face is remarkably pleasing when you smile, but most of the time you look like a circus bear that must roar day and night at the end of a chain for the entertainment of the public. Surely there’s more to life than that?
Please, Donald, change, before it’s too late. – Yours, etc,
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PS The General sends his undying affection!
Michael Harding is an Irish Times columnist and author
From Aodhán Ó Ríordáin
Dear President Trump, – Perhaps you’ll never understand how those very words strike fear into millions of hearts across the world. You are the legitimately elected leader of the most powerful country on earth. No single person will have greater influence on world affairs over the next four years, so I write to you with a plea, and with a challenge.
Those who think the worst of you have labelled you a racist, a fascist, a pathological liar, a misogynist and a bully whose pursuit of money and power overrides any humanity that may exist within you. I prefer to think of you as a child who never grew up, because if that’s true there’s a chance you may have some empathy for vulnerable children who are going to need your help.
These include children with a disability who saw you mock a disabled reporter, even though you said it was taken out of context; African-American children, who saw you campaign to delegitimise Barack Obama’s presidency by suggesting he wasn’t US born, even though you said Hillary Clinton started it; Muslim American children, who heard you promote a total ban on immigrants of their faith entering their country; and little girls who heard you joke about sexual assault, even though you said it was locker-room talk.
If you are just a child who never grew up, perhaps you might pause to see the world from the perspective of these children. That is my plea. They will all be influenced by the United States you create. They will live and learn and create and debate within the boundaries of decency and humanity that you inspire. Your words are more powerful than anyone else’s. Please remember that you won the election and that the campaigning has ceased. There is no more need for blaming, belittling, accusing or shaming. It is your presidency now. The responsibility is yours.
With that plea comes a challenge. I have no faith in you. I have no faith that you can change. I have no faith that you can be the president that American children, Irish children and the children of the world need. If you fail in that regard, as I’m fully confident you will, please understand that those who believe in peace and justice will resist you. We will resist you not because we don’t respect democracy but because we love it. We will resist you not because we hate the US but because we love your country and its potential. We will resist you not because we hate you but because we hate the hate that you inspire.
Last week in New York I heard a group of young schoolchildren sing We Shall Overcome as they walked together through the crowded streets. Perhaps your election will be a force for good, but not in the way you expect. Perhaps young people will reclaim their campaigning heritage and demand a society so much more decent than you. That is my plea, that is my challenge and that is my hope. – Yours, etc,
AODHÁN Ó RÍORDÁIN
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin is a Senator
From Conor Pope
Dear President Trump, – I’m writing this with some nervousness because – spoiler alert – I have nothing nice to say to you and I know you don’t like criticism. Remember how you tore strips off Sean O’Rourke a few years back because he made a jocular reference to your “hair” in a radio interview? You called him an asshole, Mr President. Sean O’Rourke? A man well on his way to becoming a national treasure.
The name calling happened when you left your golden tower (I said tower, right?) to come see us and your new golf resort in Co Clare. That was back when you were still a bit of a novelty act, not a man with twitchy fingers (but manly sized – we know, we know) and access to all the US nuclear codes.
They were good times.
Of course it’s not only Sean O’Rourke you’ve had issues with. There’s Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep, Samuel L Jackson, Hillary Clinton, Mexicans, Pope Francis (yes, the lovely new pope, Mr President!), Germans, Nato, Muslims, the mainstream media, people with disabilities, women with small breasts, women who menstruate, women who don’t menstruate, women who don’t like the idea of your grabbing them in the crotch, women who don’t meet your very specific notion of womanhood, the Chi . . .
Okay, the list is kind of endless, or at least ridiculously long. Last October the New York Times (either a failing and irrelevant purveyor of fake news or a beacon of independence and hope, depending on your mood and your audience, Mr President) devoted two full pages to listing all the people you had insulted in the first 10 months of 2016. Just imagine that, Mr President: it had to devote that much space to simply listing everyone you had insulted in that short time. By the time your presidency ends it will have to give over multiple editions. If we still have newspapers – and a society – when your presidency ends.
There is little point in my addressing your baiting of enemies, real or otherwise, or your thin skin or your refusal to read books or your wilful ignorance of the world around you or your relaxed relationship with reality and the truth or your racist friends and all the other things that make you singularly unsuitable for high office.
You have heard it all before and you don’t care, Mr President. You are a winner – in your own eyes – and, for you, that is all that matters.
But that brings me to what I really want to say. Please don’t kill us all, Mr President. And please don’t turn our world into a nuclear wasteland. I have given it a lot of thought in recent weeks and have read enough Stephen King and Cormac McCarthy (they are people who write books) to know I’d be useless after an apocalypse and I don’t want to be eaten by desperate cannibals.
I know, I know, talk of the apocalypse and plot lines borrowed from The Road might sound overly dramatic, but ever since that terrible morning when you were “elected” I have been unable to stop thinking about your dangerously thin-skinned grudginess and your pudgy little fingers hovering over the button.
Oh, and maybe you could ease off on the tweeting for a bit. It’s making you sound increasingly unhinged. – Yours, etc,
Conor Pope is an Irish Times journalist