I I was alone
and while it is hard for me to watch horrifying events at any time, being alone renders the experience more horrifying.
It was almost as horrid as Pasolini’s Salò 120 Days of Sodom. You could have mistakenly thought the inauguration program had been written as an allegory for fascism — as Salò was. A bit like Trump himself. He’s hard to caricature or satirize because the real thing, Trump in action, is funnier and more terrible than any parody of him could be. The inauguration was funny and bizarre, more funny and bizarre than a satirist could have written it. But I wasn’t laughing the whole time. My bowels were in an uproar. It’s what happens to me when I experience fear.
II Rich American woman have big hair
I can’t say anything else about that other than Michele Obama is beautiful. Melania Trump is a beautifully proportioned hanger for designer clothes and make up. Michele Obama is real. Melania, and Trump’s immaculately turned out children are strangely robotic. I wondered if they have a family plastic surgeon in the same way we have a family doctor.
III Now We Belong
The Missouri state university chorale sung this piece. I forgot to be traumatised during most of it. It had a beautiful melody and the singing was very fine. But the irony!
Here is the place of stranger’s welcome
We who once walked in stranger’s shoes
We were welcomed. . .
Now we belong and believe in this land.
Camera pans to Donald’s face — he appears unmoved.
IV No less than six religious leaders spoke
One of them remarked on the fact that the heavens had opened just as the President Elect rose to swear the oath. A mark of grace, he said! I suppose he felt called to say something about the rain and didn’t want to bring up about the flood sent by God to drown the inhospitable people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Pastor Paula White spoke. Paula is a TV evangelist who preaches the prosperity gospel ie true believers will be blessed, not just with eternal salvation, but also with great worldly success, including lots of money. That would be news to Jesus Christ! The prosperity gospel practices a pay forward scheme. Adherents are extorted, I mean exhorted to give money to the pastor. I think it’s like the sale of indulgences — a practice that got the Catholic Church in trouble centuries ago.
In his benediction, the fundamentalist, anti-LGBT minister, Rev. Franklin Graham read a Bible verse supporting the idea that Jesus is the only mediator between God and person. That’s a bad choice of scripture, I thought. And the timing was awful, coming as it did, back to back with words from a Jewish Rabbi. The camera panned to Rabbi Marvin Hier. He is dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. His expression was hard to read. Luckily no Muslim cleric was waiting to speak – and to have to swallow his bile with the slur. I’m guessing none was invited. (It’s only the second largest religion in the world and we all know that Trump’s a little antsy about Islam).
Cardinal Dolan of New York read from The Book of Wisdom. King Solomon’s prayer: Solomon acknowledges that God made humankind, to govern the world in holiness and righteousness and to render judgment in integrity of heart. It goes on, Give us wisdom, for we are your servants, weak and short-lived, lacking in comprehension of judgment and of laws. A good message for someone inclined to arrogance and bombast. And Dolan represents Pope Francis, who tries to represent Jesus to us. The pope’s not been subtle in his remarks about Trump. He speaks out about the plight of refugees and others impacted by homelessness and poverty and about our duty to act. The Wisdom may have been lost on Trump who seemed to spend a deal of time slumped on his chair, his lips pushed out in that big Trump pout.
V Trump’s Inaugural Address
The pugnacious set of the jaw, the narrowed eyes, the repetition of slogans, a recital of the many miracles that can be accomplished ‘ right now’. He is Elmer Gantry and Hitler and that creepy guy in the used car lot who smells of cheap cologne and chewing gum. And he’s the Commander in Chief! He has the codes that will permit him to launch a nuclear attack. But for now he’s laying out his manifesto, one that’s in effect as of ‘right now’. No debate or discussion. He’ll eradicate terrorism from the face of earth, along with drugs, and gangs, and homeland crime, protect the borders, make roads, airports, railroads, jobs, happiness appear as if by magic. We are ‘protected by God’ he said! The camera panned. The audience appeared as stunned as I felt. Obama looked grave. It’s hard for me not to think of the Gulag Archipelago and how much labour it will actually take to set up those many miles of wall between the USA and Mexico and how this man will be loathe to hear a dissenting voice or consider a different opinion. I live in Scotland. He’s definitely not my president.
VI Jackie Evancho and the Star Spangled Banner
16 years old Jackie was ‘discovered’ in the show America’s Got Talent when she was about ten. She may have been nervous on the day or put off by the band. The rendition was painful to listen to: off-key notes, a shaky voice, poor breath control and diction. I imagine she’d have been mortified. I was mortified for her. Yet somehow Jackie got it exactly right: an execrable performance of the national anthem for the inauguration to the highest office in the land of a vulgar, abusive, bigoted, hardly literate, reality show host. The age of celebrity has sunk to its nadir. Even the high note Jackie forced out on the word ‘free’ – sounded curiously like the sound a mortar makes before impact.