A Tale of Two Donalds

Tusk vs Trump

/ by Svetlana Slapšak

The President of the European Council – or simply put, the European President—and the possible future President of USA, have the same name: Donald. And a family name which starts with the same letter T: Tusk and Trump. Just consider them together, citizens of both Europe and the USA.


The comparison is disastrous.


There is no need to elaborate on Trump, for Americans have been reflecting on him (a euphemisitic description) for months now. Maybe he was just a paid sparring partner for the Clintons in their real fight against the first publicly (and admitting it with impunity) socialist in a presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders. We, the Europeans, have had to think forcedly about Tusk since 3.3.2016, when he delivered a speech on refugees. On that very day, thirteen years ago, a global pacifist action was organized – unsuccessful, of course – against the planned attack on Iraq for the rationale that they possessed weapons of mass destruction. This pretext was invented, as we now know, by some leading English and American politicians and soldiers. The war started some two weeks later.


On March 3, 44 B.C., Julius Caesar had only some twelve days of life left before he was assassinated in front of the Senate in Rome-just about as much as Zoran Đinđić, the young PM of Serbia, before he was assassinated in front of the government building in Belgrade. Bad month, bad days. And on that day in 2016, Donald Tusk decided to address refugees directly, and to tell them not to come to Europe. The message had a kind part, about the impossibility of accepting them all, and a less kind part, about the bad things that might happen to them should they come, even death...


And then, in less than five months, all hell broke out: the improvised body of EU leaders and ministers, in a new style of using the “troika” and similar irregular bodies to impose brute force upon less powerful members, was bargaining with Turkey, as the main trader with human lives in the regional war orgy. As a temporary result, the Balkan route was closed, and hundreds of thousands of refugees were forcibly stopped on different points along their journey, points which suddenly became places of trauma and torture. Just how many families, relations, friendships were destroyed by these measures, how many unaccompanied teens were left without any hope of being taken care of? Did anybody think about the psychological impact of Brexit on refugees, not only those thousands packed in impossible conditions around the entrance to the Channel Tunnel? In the last refugee camp near the Syrian border, there was more certainty about what Erdogan's next catastrophic move would be than in the EU chambers: there, and in many EU citizens' heads, political reality consists of bleached-hair, decorated guys and dames who get out of Audis and briefly blabber into microphones about the fate of the world, before they actually deteriorate it inside. Well, not all of them have bleached hair, but there is a strong tendency. How was it possible not to predict Turkish developments? Did the EU, in fact, already finance the failed/false/staged/amateurish/whatever military coup, which gave Erdogan power to crush, violate and paralyze whatever remained of democracy, instead of taking care of refugees? How futile, empty and bloated seem European “demands” proposed to Erdogan?


More than expected, there was a wave of brutalization which started on both sides of the North Atlantic. Arbitrary shooting and killing by deranged persons is easily put into the racial context on one side of the ocean, while blaming Islamic radicalization on the other, although there are mixed narratives. Once put in a certain social-cultural context, motivations became dangerously simple. There is a rather perverse explanation of the fact that Daesh did not instigate major terrorist actions in France during the World Soccer Cup: it did not cost them a bit to achieve a high level of irrational emotions, frustrations and bitterness and a false sense of security in this temporary barbarism which brings in enormous money – and only after this, a series of strikes came down, to inject some more mass hysteria. It then puts lost individuals into action, like in Germany and France.


How then could we show a minimum of understanding for Donald Tusk's plea to refugees? The Western/British border is closed permanently; the Turkish solution was a lie; the upper Balkan frontier is closed through similar actions by Hungary, Slovenia and Austria; Bulgaria openly lets criminals hunt refugees; the “post-socialist” package of states is competing in hate speech and consequent zero acceptance of refugees, and Tusk's Poland is the champion in this; the German generosity in numbers of accepted refugees is a lie, when impossible conditions for getting status are examined, along with the living conditions in centers which deny human dignity and are targeted by right wing arsonists on a daily basis; compressed in Greece, refugees live in real concentration camps, where inside violence diminishes the costs of external control and repression. It all looks like an elaborate plan without failure, compared to Loony Toons-styled Trump's vision of the wall across the USA-Mexico border and banning of all Muslims entering the USA.


Reason has a long history of pardoning madness rather than hypocrisy...some reasonable people even think that madness is more controllable when in power than hypocrisy. No, they can be equal in destroying human lives and civility: that is why comparison between the two Donalds is necessary. These two falsified the historical notion of the “refugee,” they lifted and destroyed most of the responsibilities taken on by citizens of the world after World War Two, promises which were agreed and signed. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948, the UNHCR documents and Geneva conventions (especially the one on refugees from 1951) do not differentiate between political and economic refugees, because both are motivated by preserving human lives and dignity. When the EU and the USA, where capitalism is the only system and a lot of money is still spent on anti-communist propaganda, start accusing poor people of greed, we really have a problem: is there a mysterious Lenin behind the scenes, preparing a revolution somewhere inside Brussels’ European headquarters? Which of the EU texts promotes equal payment and other communist measures? Where is the communist conspiracy in the GOP? Even in the most corrupted coins of parliamentary democracy and neoliberal capitalism, it is hard to imagine someone who would dare to say to people this: “We have (do not ask how), and we will not let you work and earn.” That is exactly what the two Donalds are saying.


The two Donalds, one from the Polish ethnic minority and the other from the next generation of European refugees (economic immigrants), have set the worst possible narrative for both continents. One of them is here to stay, in the warm nest of the EU institutional structure. The other might not be elected.


Do we really want our human hopes to be reduced to these two options? Maybe we would be better off instead with a third Donald. Donald Duck.

Svetlana Slapšak

trained in Classical Studies/Linguistics at the University in Beograd. Retired professor of Anthropology of Ancient Worlds and Anthropology of Gender at ISH, Ljubljana Graduate School of Humanities since 1996. Dean of ISH 2004-2014. Published cca 70 books. Writes academic books/articles, essays, novels, travelogue, drama and translates from Ancient Greek, Modern Greek, Latin, French, English, Slovenian and SCB languages.