Opinion

Lose your illusions. It's an ugly, dystopian world: Neil Macdonald

People my age grew up believing the world, led by the West, was becoming ever more progressive. It wasn't, and it isn't. All it took was one ambitious real estate huckster to dispel the illusion.

People my age grew up believing the world, led by the West, was becoming more progressive. It wasn't and isn't

Donald Trump, who professes great affection for the crown prince and his family, has said just about nothing about the presumed murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi other than to remark, after speaking with Mohammed bin Salman, that it might have been "rogue killers." (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

A few thoughts on the Republic of Dystopia, our southern neighbour, and the Kingdom of Draconia, Canada's most violent and temperamental weapons customer.

A second man credibly accused of sexual misconduct now sits on the Supreme Court of the United States. The story is over, and Americans quickly moved on. As they do.

Ultimately, all Christine Blasey Ford — the woman who alleged Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her back in high school — received for her rather courageous decision to testify on live television was cruel ridicule from her savage, braying president, and guffaws from the simple-minded flying monkeys he commands at his rallies.

Her testimony never had a chance of changing anything, as she herself acknowledged early in the process. Anyone who thinks the outcome could have been different should take a moment and read a NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll taken late last month. It received far too little attention.

According to a recent poll, more than half of Republicans and significant factions of Democrats and independents were keen to see Kavanaugh confirmed even if Ford's accusation was proven true. (Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

Marist pollsters asked approximately 1,000 men and women voters whether, "if the charge of sexual assault during a party in high school by Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh is true, do you think Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed …?"

Fifty-four per cent of Republicans, 12 per cent of Democrats, and 31 per cent of independents said yes.

Think about that a moment. More than half the Republicans and significant factions of Democrats and independents were keen to see Kavanaugh confirmedeven if Ford's accusation was proven true. Put more bluntly, they would have been happy seeing a rapist (or attempted rapist) seated on the court. If Ford had shown up with video of the assault she says Kavanaugh inflicted on her back in his prep school days, it would have made no difference to them.

It's a stunning statistic, until you remember that millions of Americans voted for President Donald Trump, who was caught bragging on tape about committing sexual assault, and who stands accused by around 20 women.

Social justice advocates would say it's all got to do with the emboldenment of white male rage against loss of entitlement, and there's no doubt that motivation exists. There's a reason Trump portrays the #MeToo movement as a barrage of life-ruining false accusations against men.

U.S. president says men being considered 'guilty until proven innocent' 1:26

But it's more than that. White women broke for Trump in 2016, and significant numbers of white women, with and without college educations, would have seated Kavanaugh even after seeing hard evidence of guilt, the Marist poll suggests.

As, too, would have almost half of the respondents who identified as white Evangelical Christians. Because, you know, better an anti-abortion sexual predator than a liberal baby murderer.

And then there's the motivation often planted by right-wing commentators under stories on news websites. They're basically for anything they think will "make liberals' heads explode." And their hero is the chief exploder. Thanks to them, Trump was able to wave off his own piggish admissions as "locker room talk." Had there been tape of Kavanaugh assaulting Ford, it would no doubt have been accepted as wacky locker room hijinks.

It's increasingly apparent Trump represents Americans better than any of his predecessors. I'm willing to bet his fellow Dystopians will elect him to a second term.

Execution of Jamal Khashoggi

But sexual assault isn't the only crime met with a shrug from the highest echelons of the United States. Cold-blooded murder is fine, too, as long as the perpetrators are willing to buy American.

It's becoming pretty clear that the crazed princeling of Draconia, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, likely dispatched a 15-man assassination squad with a bone saw to slaughter and carve up the bothersome expat journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who visited the theocracy's embassy in Turkey last month for marriage-related documents. There may actually be a recording of the execution; Turkish intelligence, the regime in Ankara is suggesting to journalists, has a copy.

Khashoggi was an American resident and wrote for the Washington Post, among other outlets, criticizing the Saudi regime.

Such criticism clearly drives Prince Mohammed nuts, as Canada discovered last summer, when he decreed a series of sanctions against Canada in reply to a relatively mild expression of concern by our foreign affairs minister about his family's human rights record.

As it turns out, U.S. intelligence agents intercepted Saudi discussions about abducting Khashoggi, but reportedly said nothing, just as Donald Trump, who professes great affection for the crown prince and his family, has said just about nothing, other than to remark, after speaking with the Saudi king, that it might have been "rogue killers," and to assure reporters the Saudi monarch "flatly denies" executing Khashoggi, in much the same way as Trump rushed to accept President Vladimir Putin's flat denial that Russia meddled in the 2016 American election.

(To be fair to Trump, the United States has a history of generosity and offering the benefit of doubt where the Saudis are concerned . Remember, the U.S. government, even as it rounded up thousands of innocent Muslims living on American soil in the days after the 9/11 attacks, and contemplated attacking Iraq in retaliation, allowed the family of Osama Bin Laden — who actually directed the team of mostly Saudi extremists who carried out the attacks — to fly back to sanctuary in Saudi within days of the attack as the Twin Towers lay in smoking ruins).

After speaking with the Saudi king, Trump said that it might have been "rogue killers" who murdered Khashoggi. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images; Getty Images)

Should the United States curtail shipment of American weapons to the Saudis — weapons that the Saudis then use to slaughter civilians wholesale in Yemen?

Absolutely not, says Trump, at whose hotels the Saudis spend lavishly. Besides, Khashoggi wasn't an American citizen, he adds. No doubt the White House is trying to figure out some way to blame all this on Iran.

But it's not Iran, it's America's closest Arab pals. The same bunch Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland surely wants to flatter back into a fond relationship here. Canada sells the Saudis billions in weapons systems too, after all, and we need those medical residents Mohammed bin Salman threatened to yank from our underfunded hospitals.

People my age grew up believing the world, led by the West, was becoming ever more progressive. It wasn't, and it isn't. All it took was one ambitious real estate huckster to dispel the illusion.

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

About the Author

Neil Macdonald

Opinion Columnist

Neil Macdonald is an opinion columnist for CBC News, based in Ottawa. Prior to that he was the CBC's Washington correspondent for 12 years, and before that he spent five years reporting from the Middle East. He also had a previous career in newspapers, and speaks English and French fluently, and some Arabic.