Opinion

White House of horrors

Issue section: 
Author: 

Yet another book about the chaotic nature of Donald Trump’s administration, Fear by Bob Woodward, came this autumn. Lewis Nielsen looks at what it tells us about the opposition to the chaos.

It’s easy to get tired of the scandals emanating from the White House after two years of seemingly constant coverage of Trump breaking establishment norms. The hiring and firing of staff, links with the Russians, the late night tweeting — we have heard it all before. Nevertheless Bob Woodward’s book Fear is an interesting addition to the chorus of voices revealing the chaos of Trump.

In God we entrust money

Issue section: 

Today’s religious support for the US regime is not new but was conciously created. John Newsinger talks about political evangelist Billy Graham and what has been called the Spiritual-Industrial Complex.

The Christian right played a vital role in electing Donald Trump to the presidency in November 2016. Evangelical Christians made up a third of electorate and four out of every five of them voted for Trump.

And, so far at least, they have remained loyal to the man they consider to be God’s Chosen. Understanding the strategic position they occupy in US politics today is vital.

Eco-fashioning a toxic trade

Issue section: 

Recent trends for “sustainable fashion” will not be sufficient to transform an industry inherently tied up with polluting practices and wasteful mass production from its inception, writes Rena Niamh Smith.

Fashion is a product industry, and as such, requires enormous amounts of resources to produce, distribute and dispose of what is sold. Typically, textiles and garments are mass-produced in the Global South, shipped to Western countries for consumption, and vast quantities of those which are not dumped in landfill are shipped to Africa and beyond to the vast second-hand market.

The world’s second most polluting industry after oil, fashion’s specific crimes against the planet are too numerous to list here, but cotton production provides a snapshot.

The ugly truth about beauty

Issue section: 

Rena Niamh Smith unpicks fashion’s ambiguous relationship with gender, revealing how it relies on the labour of poor women, while both exploiting people’s insecurities and claiming to celebrate “empowerment”.

Every fashion show I’ve ever attended names “strong women” as inspiration in the show notes, whether the collection was conceptual art pieces, or micro dresses and four-inch heels.

Style can be empowering. Angela Davis’s afro was a bold, beautiful middle finger to the Eurocentric beauty standards imposed on black women, symbolic of systematic oppression of black people. Like music, style is an art and individual garments, or hairstyles, both hold aesthetic merit and operate in a wider, often political, trend.

Fundamental British tosh

Issue section: 
Author: 

The government’s Prevent strategy is inherently racist and it attempts to turn teachers into agents of the security services. Ümit Yildiz looks at the problems with enforcing a spurious notion of “British values”.

Paul Gilroy wrote that “racism does not, of course, move tidily and unchanged through time and history”. While on the surface “acceptable” racism in the UK has shifted its focus from colour to creed, culture and religion, its tools of operation remain the same: the judiciary, the police, the education system, the media, namely the British state itself.

Following the attacks on 11 September 2001, already growing anti-Muslim racism was normalised by the US administration and successive British governments.

The future’s already here

Issue section: 
Author: 

The IPCC climate change report grabbed headlines with the notion that we have 12 years to avert climate crisis. We would be better served by recognising that the crisis is happening now, writes Martin Empson.

The publication of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report in October provoked major discussion. Headline writers seized on a figure that suggested we have 12 years to prevent catastrophe.

Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the IPCC’s working group on impacts, used similarly apocalyptic language: “It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now… This is the largest clarion bell from the science community and I hope it mobilises people and dents the mood of complacency.”

Scotland: business versus working class interests

Issue section: 

Demonstrations involving thousands of people from different parts of Scotland, organised by All Under One Banner (AUOB) calling for Scottish Independence, culminated in an Edinburgh march of 100,000 in October.

There is a growing impatience among the rank and file of the independence movement at the lack of headway by first minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party (SNP) leadership to announce a date for a second referendum, even though the Scottish government has a mandate from the Scottish parliament to do so.

Orwell or Carroll?

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Many people have turned to George Orwell and his novel Nineteen Eighty Four for assistance in trying to understand the Trump presidency and its implications for both the US and the wider world. This is a mistake. Orwell certainly offers insight into the activities of the many Big Brothers who have paraded on the world stage since he wrote the novel, but if the truth be told, Big Baby is completely beyond him.

When hypocrisy’s in fashion

Issue section: 
Issue: 

A handful of significant appointments of black designers and cover stars marks something of a change for the fashion industry, but racism is rooted in much deeper structural problems.

This year is being hailed as a breakthrough year for black figures in the fashion industry.

Virgil Abloh was appointed creative director for menswear at Louis Vuitton. Ghanaian-born Edward Enninful, who took over as editor-in-chief of British Vogue in late 2017, made Rihanna the first black woman to star on the all-important September issue. A record number of other major magazines had black September cover stars, from Beyoncé for American Vogue to Slick Woods for Elle UK.

Glasgow model is no panacea for violence

Issue section: 
Issue: 

“Sadiq Khan’s Crime U-Turn” screamed the front page of the London Evening Standard on 19 September. The article’s subtitle added, “Mayor finally backs new public health approach we demanded”.

This followed the announcement by London’s mayor of a “new approach” to tackling violent crime in the capital.

The paper’s boastfulness continued in an editorial which indicated, “We welcome the zeal of the Mayor’s conversion even if he didn’t manage to find time to credit us.”

Pages

Subscribe to Opinion