|June 5, 2016|
Tomgram: Engelhardt, Renaming Our World[Note to TomDispatch Readers: Steve Fraser's superb new book, The Limousine Liberal: How an Incendiary Image United the Right and Fractured America, is still on offer at our donation page. Any reader willing to contribute $100 or more ($125 if you live outside the United States) can get a signed, personalized copy and give this website a lift. And here's a deep bow to those of you who have already done so!
I’ve long had a weakness for commencement addresses, or at least for what they might be rather than what they usually are, which is why I’ve written them relatively regularly myself. Since no actual college or graduating class has ever asked me to give such a speech, I’ve addressed the graduates of 2015 and other years from what I’ve called “the campus of my mind.” I couldn’t resist doing so again. Tom]
Donald Trump Is the Mosquito, Not the Zika Virus
Class of 2016, Tell Us Who We Are
By Tom Engelhardt
Graduates of 2016, don’t be fooled by this glorious day. As you leave campus for the last time, many of you already deeply in debt and with a lifetime of payments to look forward to, you head into a world that’s anything but sunny. In fact, through those gates that have done little enough to protect you is the sort of fog bank that results in traffic pile-ups on any highway.
And if you imagine that I’m here to sweep that fog away and tell you what truly lies behind it, think again. My only consolation is that, if I can’t adequately explain our American world to you or your path through it, I doubt any other speaker could either.
Of course, it’s not exactly a fog-lifter to say that, like it or not, you’re about to graduate onto Planet Donald -- and I don’t mean, for all but a few of you, a future round of golf at Mar-a-Lago. Our increasingly unnerved and disturbed world is his circus right now (whether he wins the coming election or not), just as in the Philippines, it’s the circus of new president Rodrigo Duterte; in Hungary, of right-wing populist Viktor Orbán; in Austria, of Norbert Hofer, the extremist anti-immigrant presidential candidate who just lost a squeaker by .6% of the vote; in Israel, of new defense minister Avigdor Lieberman; in Russia, of the autocratic Vladimir Putin; in France, of Marine le Pen, leader of the right-wing National Front party, who has sometimes led in polls for the next presidential election; and so on. And if you don’t think that’s a less than pretty political picture of our changing planet, then don’t wait for the rest of this speech, just hustle out those gates. You’ve got a treat ahead of you.
For the rest of us lingerers, it says something about where we all are that, once through those gates, you’ll still find yourself in the richest, most powerful country around, the planet’s “sole superpower.” (USA! USA!) It is, however, a superpower distinctly in decline on -- and this is a historic first -- a planet similarly in decline.
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