At the risk of coming across all Holden Caulfield, this is a seriously phony age. Everywhere you look there are people objecting to things they think other people have said or would like them to have said. This past Saturday provided a fine example when in Washington and various other Western capitals some people decided that a fine response to the Trump administration is to pretend that it is ‘anti-women’ in some way.
Various politicians, Guardian journalists and others without lives walked around for a day tilting furiously at this imaginary enemy. Some took their daughters with them, as though it is a good idea to inebriate the next generation with the same cocktail of phantoms and lies. I have said many times that when it comes to fascism in the modern West there is a serious supply and demand problem: there aren’t enough fascists to meet the demand. Now relations between the sexes appear to be reaching a similar imbroglio. The women marching on Saturday behaved as though the new American President is going to legalise rape, or perhaps make rape compulsory. Their main – perhaps only – justification for this stance is one unarguably ugly tape recording of a private conversation which took place more than a decade ago. March against an ugly off-record boast from over a decade ago by all means, if you absolutely have nothing better to do. But why make out that the new President is going to ‘legitimise assault’ or ‘make rape ok’? Other than, that is, in order to get out all those ‘Get off my Bush’ placards from a decade ago that had such a very profound impact on the last Republican Presidency.
It caused me some amusement, I must say, to see that one co-chair of the American march at the weekend was Linda Sarsour – a young woman who I had the misfortune of meeting a couple of years ago.