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Stop shopping for Donald Trump

United States

The riddle of Donald Trump becomes clearer: his job is to keep us hypnotized, to inflame our disapproval.

His treatment of beleaguered Puerto Rico is a case in point. He blames the island for being broke, after it was bankrupted by hedge funds and the big banks. In the next 3am tweet from the White House, he blames Puerto Rico for being devastated by Hurricane Irma, insinuating the island’s leaders are losers, even as they struggle to save their elderly and children.

There’s no escape for Puerto Rico. They are losers to Trump’s economy, and losers to the climate caused by his economy.

So, the world’s biggest financiers are laying siege to the island by financial instruments on the one hand, while at the same time the super-rich lay siege with 145 miles per hour winds – these same banks invest in industrial projects that lead to emissions of CO2 and methane, the greenhouse gases causing our changing climate.

There’s no escape for Puerto Rico. They are losers to Trump’s economy, and losers to the climate caused by his economy.

We have several Puerto Ricans in our choir, whose relatives who survived Irma. It was for these people disconcerting to experience Trump’s bile, yes, but something else happened, too. Americans were ENTERTAINED by his astonishing cruelty.

Legions of comedians and op-ed writers are making good livings inflaming the laughing disapproval of this impossibly obtuse thug, the President of the US.

As we tour the UK and have conversations with the veterans of the racism triggered by the Brexit vote, we have come to feel that commentators can be as guilty as the object of their scorn. They simply reflect the evil, and make lots of money doing it.

We are witnessing the conversion of hate into commodity. Hate is heated up in the streets, in the churches, on the screens – then aimed at the weak. In our rapture we are shopping for Donald Trump. He toys with World War Three to up his ratings. He advises police to rough up suspects. He insults the parents of children killed in battle. He feeds on the attention.

We named our tour ‘The Trump Depression Hotline’ and went off into the sceptred isle in a chartered bus. We stage our singing and preaching in theatres in the evening, then after the pub go back to the bus with ‘wheels up’ by midnight. Driving all night, the performers asleep in the coffin-like bunks, we arrive in the next English town the following morning. Then we have all day to parade, sing to picket lines, and in general join the local activists in their insurrections. ‘Have Activism Will Travel’ is our calling card.

We are witnessing the conversion of hate into commodity. Hate is heated up in the streets, in the churches, on the screens – then aimed at the weak.

We didn’t know, planning this tour from New York, how these mid-day actions would become the answer to our Trump depression. We have learned that when we stop itching the itch of hating Trump, and instead get to work on the action that is so badly needed, then our hopelessness lifts.

Our 15 singers have bussed to Birmingham, Newcastle, Liverpool and last night, Brighton. On our way we paraded with cleaning staff from the Royal Liverpool Hospitals, beset by privatization.

Trump’s Puerto Rico insults do highlight one key point: we need to stop these financial predators. We permitted commercial banking and hedge funds to continue after the 2008 crash. They prey on distressed communities throughout the world, and bankroll a socially and environmentally destructive economy that is turning up the heat in the oceans of the South Atlantic – making so many storms Category 5.

It is time for all of us to become radicals of the kind that our societies need for real change. If we spend our time laughing at the entertainment fascists, then they keep us in our seats, passive, paying…shopping for our own premature deaths. Now THAT is depressing.

Today the Trump Depression Hotline Tour will be in Chelmsford; on Saturday the congregation will gather at noon at the Great Court of the British Museum for an uprising against BP. And in the evening of the 28 October the raving secular gospel service hits Toynbee Hall. It’s Pay What You Can Afford: no-one is turned away.

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