During Donald Trump’s address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week, the unexpected happened: The room literally burst out in laughter. Serious diplomats in grey suits, listening to the world’s heads of governments citing their accomplishments, commitments, agreements, were suddenly barely able to calm down. When the US president claimed to have, in the past two years, achieved what probably no other president in the history of the United States had achieved, the delegations just couldn’t keep it in anymore. Now, I’m sorry for being a killjoy, but there is nothing to laugh about. It may look, at first glance, like a triumphant moment in UN history. But it’s actually the opposite.
Reality-TV-style mood swings
There is nothing funny about a president whose idea about democratic government is based on the rigid hierarchy of a private company. There is nothing funny about a government that puts big business over social welfare. Nothing funny either about privileging short-term entertainment over the necessary bit of bureaucracy. Nor is it particularly laughable to prioritise reality-TV-style mood swings over serious commitments to national and international politics. And how laughable do you think it is to prefer turning a blind eye to right-wing revisionism, while denying legitimacy to social movements fighting racism? How funny is a man who „grabs pussy“?
There is nothing funny about a man who got elected under the opposition’s continued, yet slowly suffocating, laughter on social media. If anything, it his high-time to get serious and stay serious – Donald Trump is the president of the US, whether you like it or not. Yes, his past as a reality TV star, egomaniac entrepreneur and misogynist is hilarious in its own way, but his present is in power, and quite literally so.
The laughter makes the clown
It might have been a very short-sighted mistake of the delegates to the UN to laugh at a man whose government poses a serious threat to multilateralism in its constant refusals to collaborate with what it denounces as „globalism“. Perhaps it was not so wise to start laughing the very moment the one person whose attitude towards international cooperation to change could prove critical in the future.