One time as a famous cosmology lecturer finished his talk on the nature of of the universe, an old man approached him. “I know how the universe is sustained,” he told the professor. “Really, how?” “It sits on the back of a giant turtle.”
“I see,” said the professor, raising an eyebrow. “What does the turtle sit on?” “Another turtle,” said the man. “And what…” began the famous lecturer, but the man cut him off with a wave of his hand. “Let me save you some time, professor,” the man said, looking the professor in the eye. “It’s turtles all the way down.”
We’ve heard this story in one variation or another, as it explains many things that are otherwise inexplicable outside of Platonic philosophical discussions and not inhaling when the roach clip is passed from the left. Some things simply are as they are, and some people are true blue through and through, no matter how thinly you slice them.
Take, for instance, President Trump. He is a troll, in the Internet-age sense of the word, not the classical definition as a mythical bridge-dwelling creature, or the deep cave monsters of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. A troll says or posts controversial things for the sheer joy of stirring the pot and directing the discussion. Trump, since his entry into public life at the tender age of 29, has always been a troll.
We must take Trump’s latest comments, as always, in this vein. For example, Trump accused American Jews of being “disloyal” for voting for Democrats. Without a doubt, this is trolling Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar (three quarters of the Suicide Squad), in their always inappropriate characterizations of Jews supporting Israel as having “dual loyalty.”
The difference here is that the anti-Semites of the “squad” would rather spread actual blood libels (which they have) because they really want Israel and its millions of Jews destroyed. Trump is merely being a political troll. Trump’s trolling has the divisive effect of “who’s with me?” shouted by the schoolyard bully as he picks on the kid carrying a briefcase or wearing a button-down shirt buttoned up to the collar.
And then there’s Denmark. (“Why, ’tis a loving and a fair reply: Be as ourself in Denmark.” – Hamlet Act I, Scene 2.)
Okay…Trump didn’t start this whole “buy Greenland” thing, the media did that to make him look stupid. Depending on who you talk to, it might even be a good idea. Regardless of that, I doubt that it was on the top of the agenda in speaking with Queen Margrethe II or Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. I would not be surprised to learn that the only Dane that Trump knows by name might be Viggo Mortensen.
The reason Trump killed the trip to Denmark is no more complicated than it’s trolling. Trolling is what a troll does. Since the Greenland thing became public, and Denmark decided to respond to it, now Trump the troll must troll them. Visiting and sharing a plate of Flæskesteg (cooked well-done, slathered with ketchup) while exchanging pleasantries would not be possible now that Greenland is on the table. It’s completely intolerable for a troll to ignore such things without a proper passage of time (a year?) or a few trolling news cycles.
It doesn’t matter what issue you pick: the economy, the Federal Reserve, immigration, gun control, Russia, China, Hong Kong, or Israel–the nature of Trump is to troll, because through and through, all the way down, he is a troll.
That doesn’t mean Trump has no prescriptive principles at all. It doesn’t mean that the policy initiatives and appointments he makes are automatically bad either (unless you’re one of the “Orange Man Bad” crowd who would cheer cancer if Trump cured it). A pure troll simply puts those things aside when the opportunity to stir controversy, expose others in hypocrisy, mock those who attack him, or rally the “who’s with me?” crowd arises.
When you come to understand this, the headache and hangover of a Trump news cycle becomes more bearable. Strip off the trolling, and you see how ridiculous it is for Democrats who spend all day trashing any kind of pride in being American get upset when Trump invokes “loyalty” as a property of Jewish culture. Of course the various striations of American pluralism involve dual and competing loyalties: It’s such an obvious thing, it shouldn’t need to be stated. The entirety of intersectional progressive woke SJW thought and the cancel culture is based on the concept of dual loyalty.
Trolling accomplished. Now on to the next turtle.