Riot police are braced for the worst as President Trump makes his first visit to the United Kingdom this week. Massive street protests are expected during the four-day visit along with nasty insults in Parliament, the news media, and hip salons. The U.S. Embassy, for its part, is warning Americans to keep a “low profile.” Oh, and don’t forget the high-flying “baby Trump” blimp that has gotten a green light to float near Parliament – an insult endorsed by Trump-hating Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is London’s first Muslim mayor and an apologist for Islamic terror attacks in London.
Much to Khan’s horror, the politically incorrect Trump has dared to point out that Islamic terror attacks – grisly subway bombings, wild-eyed knifings, and rampaging attacks with motor vehicles – are now a regular feature in the land of Chaucer and Shakespeare. Trump and other clear-eyed politicians, together with ordinary Brits who voted for Brexit, nevertheless have no doubt about the root causes of these atrocities: decades of Muslim immigration; multiculturalism and political correctness; and the European Union’s feel-good open borders policies created by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. Welcome to London, one of the most storied cities in the Western tradition – yet now derisively dubbed “Londonistan.”
To keep Britain’s lefty mob at bay, riot police are mobilizing in record numbers, especially in London, the epicenter of Trump hatred. The unprecedented show of force is what one might expect “if London was burning down,” observed one law-enforcement official. Some 100,000 protesters are expected in London, even though Trump will largely avoid the city after flying in on Thursday from a NATO conference in Brussels. His schedule includes having tea with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle and holding talks with Prime Minister Theresa May, who is now under fire for waffling on regaining full British independence from the European Union following the Brexit referendum two years ago.
As Britain rages with Trump hatred, expect lefty CNN and MSNBC to seize upon the protests to provide hand-ringing remarks about how America is no longer respected. Trump is a racist. Trump hates Muslims. Trump is a pig. That kind of talk unites the left, both in America and abroad. None of this is entirely about Trump, however. Yes, the protests may be focused on Trump, but deep down they are really animated by anti-Americanism – and unabashedly pro-American Trump stirs up anti-American animus with everything he says.
To understand this anti-American pathology and Trump hatred, consider two political leaders who got a big welcome in Britain. First, there was President Obama who visited London in 2011 on a state visit (an honor withheld from Trump thanks to anti-Trump sentiment in Britain’s Parliament and other corridors of power). Obama, of course, got red-carpet treatment because he was an anti-American president: he believed America had many sins to answer for and was in decline. On trips abroad, he had no compunction about bad-mouthing America. Not surprisingly, he was thus regarded as a deep-thinking statesman during interviews at the BBC and when visiting other venues. Like the old saying goes: Show me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.
But guess who got an even more delirious welcome than Obama? It was none other than Venezuelan strongman and socialist Hugo Chávez, the firebrand president who made anti-Americanism a pillar of his foreign policy. Chávez’s visit to London in 2006 was not a state visit, but it might as well have been given the rock-star welcome that he got in London.
Hugo’s London Visit
Chávez’s host was London Mayor Ken Livingstone, then 60, known informally as “Red Ken.” With Livingstone at his elbow, the then 51-year-old Chávez got a hero’s welcome at one rally. Adoring leftists swooned over his anti-American diatribes and colorful one-liners, including branding President Bush a “genocidal assassin.” At private functions, Chávez – who once called himself a “Maoist” and praised Cuba’s “sea of happiness” – hobnobbed with like-minded Parliamentarians and celebrities. The later included virulent anti-American playwright and Nobel laureate Harold Pinter and activist Bianca Jagger, former wife of Rolling Stone Mick Jagger.
Britain’s anti-American left gave Chávez the rock-star treatment that had traditionally been showered on Chávez’s aging mentor, Cuba’s president-for-life Fidel Castro. The left adored Chávez’s frequent harangues of President Bush; his vaunted “social programs” for Venezuela’s poor; and his impassioned call for a Latin America free of Washington’s influence, and united under his so-called “Bolivarian Revolution” – named after Latin America’s liberation hero, Simón Bolívar.
Chávez’s admirers loved the way he upstaged Western leaders at international summits. They snickered when he announced that he’d provide subsidized heating oil to low-income Americans and Europeans. In their minds, it was a well-aimed slap at immoral Western capitalism; no matter that Venezuela’s oil is the patrimony of Venezuelans, most of whom are poor. For Chávez and his rabid supporters, however, it was perfectly legitimate to use Venezuela’s oil wealth to buy influence and form anti-Washington alliances. So what if this meant fewer petrodollars for Venezuelans – who are now eating from garbage piles and fleeing abroad thanks to Venezuela-style socialism.
During Chávez’s visit, “Red Ken” and fellow leftists turned a blind eye to to what was happening in Chávez’s socialist petro-state: authoritarianism, poverty, and corruption were all on the upswing – yet thanks to soaring oil prices at the time, Chávez got away with his misrule. With an oil boom underway, there was no need to diversify the economy, attract investment, and create jobs – all anathema to any self-respecting socialist.
During Trump’s visit, expect the news media to remain focused on the anti-Trump protests. Perhaps Trump and pro-Brexit leaders like Nigel Farage will call attention to Britain’s silent majority – those who voted for Brexit and, in doing so, became ideological soulmates of President Trump.
Something else bears repeating: Show me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.
David Paulin, an Austin, TX-based freelance journalist, covered Hugo Chávez’s rise to power while based in Caracas as a foreign correspondent. He also reported from the Caribbean while based in Kingston, Jamaica.
Photo: Jon Michael