Traditionally we have a lot in common with England, relatives even. But some British people just do not like Donald Trump.
We have English friends who are more than opinionated, who used to steadily remind us how great we had it as Americans. But now they wouldn’t trade places for a platinum Rolls-Royce. Really? When recently pressed, they spotlighted Donald Trump as their turning point from their former American envy.
It didn’t take them long to emphasize that Trump especially lacks certain qualities the British traditionally esteem.
To school me, they emailed their humorist friend Nate White: “He has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace.” Pip, pip, eh?
“Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing — not once, ever, quite literally. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility — for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman. But with Trump, he doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is — his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.
“But not only is he is never funny, he never laughs; he only crows or jeers. And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults -- he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness. There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface. Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront. Well, we don’t.” Hmmm, tell us how you really feel.
After that, I asked my English cousin (originally from the Isle of Skye) what he thought. I got more than I bargained for. He launched into a diatribe on Henry the Eighth ending the Age of Persuasion and beginning the Age of Coercion, saying he’d studied King Henry, who was an instrument reshaped anew every morning, almost as if by a master forger — sharp, pointed, biting and spiraling deeply into his own crooked age, as he put it. Henry the Eighth was profound in his deception too — lying gave him deep and subtle pleasure, so deep, he does not know he is lying and thinks he was the most truthful of all princes. Sound familiar?
Trump did possess what my cousin’s Scottish wife felt was an ignominious superpower: “He is completely unencumbered by the truth,” she said,” and the need to tell it or accept it. He will say anything that he believes will help him. He never seems bound by ethics or morals. To us, from across the pond, it seems his only alliances are to those who would support and further his devotion to self promotion.”
They made me understand that in Britain, they traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All their heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist. Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that. He’s beyond even a spoiled rich boy, or a greedy fat cat. They saw him as more of a Jabba the Hutt of privilege.
And worse, the Scotslady explained that he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully. That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a sniveling sidekick instead. There are unspoken rules to this stuff -- the Queensberry rules of basic decency -- and he breaks them all. He punches downward -- which a gentleman should, would, could never do — and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless — and he kicks them when they are down.
She made it quite clear: These are not qualities the British traditionally esteem. And, cheerio, that is the word from across the pond.
Gloucester resident Gordon Baird is an actor and musician, co-founder of Musician magazine and producer of “The Chicken Shack” community access TV show.