Friday, 10 February 2017

It couldn't happen here

Donald Trump - my unwitting and unwanted part in his rise to power.

photo by The Corn Poppy, May 2014

A couple of years ago I trekked to Birmingham to see an exhibition by Bill Drummond.
When I got there Bill, with his co-worker and photographer Tracey, was about to go out and do Art.
Specifically he was going to tag a UKIP poster.
Because not unreasonably it offended him.
Believing in bridges not walls.
Less borders, not more.

Tracey took some photos and tweeted them.
Some passers by took photos on their phones and may well have shared them.
They certainly found it funny and right on.

picture by The Corn Poppy, May 2014
I took some photos too.
I wrote a blog about my day trip to Birmingham.
I tweeted a picture.
The blog and tweet were well received and shared.
But to a limited audience.

All was quiet for a little while, until Bill wrote about it.
Bill writes a lot of things.
Sometimes his pieces are published on Caught by the River or The Quietus.

Sometimes they're republished by the Huffington  Post.
Huffington Post is a left leaning web news page.

Breitbart is an alt-right web news page.
Breitbart like to discredit those on the left, like Huffington Post.

So, a Huffington Post contributor committing an illegal act (graffiti) in a way that could be construed as against free speech (or could be a statement of free speech) is a good target for Breitbart.

Breitbart's CEO was a man called Steve Brannon.  Who is now (still) Trump's right  hand man (or Trump's puppeteer if you prefer).

And to paraphrase Sinclair Lewis in  It couldn't happen here:
Then the good old war horse, Brannon, veteran of a hundred campaigns against subversive Reds, trained to ridicule out of existence the cant of Socialist hecklers and turn the laugh against them, swung into gallant action:
Breitbart posted the story of Bill's tagging a poster on an industrial estate in Birmingham with a title linking it to Huffington Post.  And they used my fucking photo.  The one at the top of this page.  Weirdly the photo links on the Breitbart page are gone now.

photo by The Corn Poppy, May 2014

Alt facts and fake news and the rest are big news now but they've been around for a while (forever I guess).  Suggesting your enemy has a flaw, repeating, repeating, repeating, whether it is true or not, is the death by a thousand cuts.  Every time Trump said "crooked Hillary" it seeped a little more into your psyche. No matter how much you thought "Trump bad, Hillary good" after a while the best you could think was "Hillary bad, Trump worse".

Breitbart suggested HuffPo supported criminals (even if they were only graffitists) therefore you can't trust them.  Nothing they say has value because Bill Drummond is a HuffPo contributor and he defaced a poster.

This particular story was a long time ago, and pretty insignificant.  But it is part of the death by a thousand cuts.  All part of the process of marginalising the mainstream media and by using my photo (without my permission) made me an accesory.  What I didn't realise at the time was the extent to which destroying trust in the media was a foundation stone for stealing an election.  And now, despite the fact that most of the fake news and alternative facts have come from Trump, he can shout Fake News at any story he doesn't like and half the country believe him.

God help us if Trump starts to criticise the legal system . . .

photo by The Corn Poppy, May 2014

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