My Word: US flight, fight, and fright syndrome

Friends, fasten your seat belts, and take a stiff drink by all means, but remember Trump is not a terrorist hijacker; he’s legitimately in the pilot’s seat trying to fly the plane.

November 17, 2016 21:22
A CARDBOARD cutout of Donald Trump is pictured on a media charter plane with a countdown clock to th

A CARDBOARD cutout of Donald Trump is pictured on a media charter plane with a countdown clock to the election earlier this month.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The best analogy I heard of the US presidential race was of a situation in which the pilot and co-pilot of a plane are out of action and the cabin crew searches for someone to take over. One passenger has a pilot’s license but a troubling history of crash landings; another has no experience but is convinced he can succeed if given the chance.

It was a good explanation of the unattractiveness of the two candidates trying to arrive safely in the White House. It was told to me with a smile, but it’s not funny.

As we now know, Hillary Clinton was not chosen on November 8, and in her usual way blamed the poor visibility and weather conditions for her latest crash rather than her poor vision and skills. In January 2017, the inexperienced Donald J. Trump will take over the controls and try to change course midair. The best we can hope for is that there are good people guiding him from the control tower – and that he listens to them.

That’s why the question of who Trump appoints as his advisers is crucial. And it’s essential to get beyond the hype and the hyperventilating to see who they really are.

I consistently said that the election would be close and refused to predict who would win. I did not foresee what would follow the election results. It was clear that had Trump lost, many of his supporters, with his backing, would have rioted. Clinton’s supporters, on the other hand, didn’t consider failure a serious possibility.

Friends across the States panicked. The trauma and fear of those who voted for Clinton and were trumped saturated my Facebook feed and email inbox.

More than one person likened it to 9/11, even after I objected to comparing a terrorist attack in which more than 3,000 people lost their lives to the unwanted result of a democratic election.

I shared the now much-quoted Wall Street Journal blog by Melissa Korn and Douglas Belkin on November 9, which noted “Dozens of students at Cornell University gathered on a major campus thoroughfare for a ‘cry-in’ to mourn the results of the 2016 presidential election Wednesday, with school staff providing tissues and hot chocolate.

“At Tufts University, arts and crafts were on offer. And the University of Kansas reminded students via social media of the therapy dogs available for comfort every other Wednesday.”

I tried hard to resist the temptation to pass it on, but failed when I got to the bit about the students at the University of Michigan who “spent the day sprawled around the center, playing with Play-Doh and coloring in coloring books, as they sought comfort and distraction.”

I am disgusted by Trump’s vulgarity and reality-star style, but looking at the reactions to the elections, one of the reasons he won was apparent: It was a backlash to the “safe space” mentality.

In Israel, we have the day off for elections to allow people to travel to their home polling stations and booths are set up in schools and community centers. The next day, whatever the results, we go back to work and studies – even after the 1996 election when almost everybody went to sleep thinking Shimon Peres had been elected and woke up the next day to find that Benjamin Netanyahu would be the next prime minister.

Kindergarten children (Play-Doh’s more conventional target audience), schoolchildren and university students don’t get a break even in times of war. They rush for shelter under rocket fire but don’t have safe rooms and trigger warnings to help them run away from anything with which they might not agree.

The American synagogues that held shiva gatherings, to mourn the election results as if a close relative had died, were non-Orthodox in every sense.

And that’s another reason American liberals were shocked by the election result: They ignored or belittled the people who didn’t feel or think the same as them, people too intimidated by the climate of political correctness to admit that they would be voting for Trump. People whose cries did not pierce the liberal echo chamber.

The election was not about Clinton’s gender, as many claimed. Fortunately girls have plenty of examples of women who led their countries as prime minister or president – from the UK, India, Ireland, Israel, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand among others, and this year Taiwan elected Tsai Ing-wen as the first female head of state in the Chinese- speaking world.

“IT’S STARTED!” left-leaning friends declared in increasingly panicked tones, sharing photos of swastikas and abhorrent racist graffiti.

“The Jewish community, along with our Muslim friends, gays, immigrants, and their parents are all worried at the bad things that are happening here,” a friend wrote. “Really bad things.”

Most Israelis don’t think antisemitism sprang up with the Trump win. The BDS movement and its allies in Black Lives Matter and similar groups merely cloak antisemitic sentiment in anti-Israeli rhetoric – that’s why they get away with it and even made it fashionable.

In the videos not shared by my liberal friends, rioting students protesting the election results could be heard chanting “Free, free Palestine” as if rent-a-crowd had either forgotten what cause they were meant to be championing or blamed Israel (i.e. the Jews) out of ugly habit.

An ambassador to Israel recently confessed, off the record, that he thought Americans are “naive.”

We’d been discussing the state of the Middle East and global terrorism.

Despite the high hopes – and the Nobel Peace Prize – Barack Obama did not make the world a safer place. On the contrary.

It’s another reason Clinton, perceived as a continuation of the Obama administration, was not particularly popular in Israel, with ISIS on the doorstep and jihadists praised by the Palestinian leadership as “martyrs,” rewarded for their stabbing, slashing and shooting sprees.

If you fear what the next four years will bring, let me remind you, it will go quickly – even if you’re not having a good time.

Remember the Obama-led the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that postponed Iran’s nuclear breakout by an estimated 10 years? Almost one and a half of those years are over.

What will the future bring? Nobody knows – not even Donald J. Trump. It’s natural to fear the unknown, and Trump is definitely an unknown and unpredictable quantity.

I belong to the school of thought that holds that you can’t control everything bad that befalls you, but you can control your response.

Neither naiveté nor paranoia helps.

Trump ran on the slogan “Make America great again.”

Perhaps he should now change that to “Make the States united again.”

Friends, fasten your seat belts, and take a stiff drink by all means, but remember Trump is not a terrorist hijacker; he’s legitimately in the pilot’s seat trying to fly the plane. Warn him if you see he’s veering dangerously in one direction or another; stop the rowdy and distracting passengers; calm the panicked, and pray he succeeds. You might not enjoy the flight, but in four years, Americans will have the chance to elect a new pilot. It’s called democracy. It’s not a flight of fancy.

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