We can't undo history. We may be unaware of some events and their subsequent effects, that is an educational issue, but when we are eventually enlightened, we will not alter anything by moving statues and re-naming streets.
We already have a system of 'Blue Plaquing' items of historical interest. Why not simply introduce a different colour of informative plaque for those items that are associated with a past that is no longer acceptable, with an explanation why? In that way, we can educate without the disruption and expense highlighted by previous Cafe-scrawlers on this topic.
As a MacLeod who is also a journalist, I have long considered setting up a campaign to have Donald Trump expelled from the clan MacLeod. I'm serious. In terms of silly clickbaiting, I am sure the idea would get global coverage, an opinion enthusiastically endorsed by several American colleagues who were itching for me to run with it.
Two things held me back. The first was bumping into Hugh MacLeod the chief of the MacLeods, who was understandably hesitant given his nightmare task of keeping the American tourists coming to his ghastly castle so that he could fix the roof. Fair play to the man, he's doing his best in these difficult times. The second was that, even although I have now met Trump three times and have attended one of his rallies, I am still largely mystified both by him and why over 70 million seemingly largely bright Americans voted for him. It is surely one of the most fascinating conundrums of modern times.
Here we have a man who is manifestly an idiot and behaves idiotically for his four-year term, and then at the end of that term, nearly wins the election. I don't buy the theory that those who voted for him are also idiots, there's something else going on here and it's surely worth exploring. At this point I would like, perhaps uniquely, to compare Donald Trump with both St Columba and King Arthur of the round table.
Let me explain. In recent years, I have on four occasions visited American universities to lecture for a few weeks on the significance of both storytelling and legends in our modern world. Now let me quickly assure you that I make no claim to being an academic, my one qualification for these jollies is that I happen to be a pal of one of the leading authorities on the subject who likes me to turn up and parrot a few traditional Hebridean stories for his more scholarly exposition.
This lovely man, Chris Snyder, first came to my attention some 30 years ago when he came to Scotland and became my student lodger. His primary interest was King Arthur and when I asked him whether he thought Arthur had existed, he replied that it didn't really matter whether he had existed or not, what mattered was the role that the legend of Arthur had played in the development of Britain. And indeed, why the British had needed that legend. It was a formative remark in my thinking and when, not long afterwards, I met a young student studying St Columba for her PhD, I asked her what rock-solid facts we knew about St Columba as a person. She replied that he probably existed and the legend of Columba was probably more important than whether he had existed or not.
So let's get back to Donald Trump. Let me fly this experimental kite. A thesis that if Donald Trump had never existed, modern America would have had to invent him. That there was a need for Trump, just as there was a need for Arthur or indeed Columba. And not an attractive need either. An attavistic need for nationalism and national agrandisement – in the face of the real need for international co-operation and global cohesion – in the face of global warming and the general ecological meltdown.
And how should we respond to this need? No idea, but a good start would surely be to expel Donald Trump from the clan MacLeod.
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