Does anyone believe the media-savvy first daughter mistimed her tweet just as reports emerge of children being forcibly separated from their parents by US perimeters agents?
I‘m generally a big believer in Hanlon’s Razor: the idea that you should never ascribe to malice which can be explained by stupidity. But I’d like to put forward a somewhat different theorem to help explain these Trumpian days: Ivanka’s Razor. The principle that, when it comes to Ivanka Trump, you should never ascribe to folly or ignorance that which can be explained by malice.
Take, as a case in point, the photo Ivanka tweeted on Sunday, captioned” My <3! #sundaymorning" in which the first daughter is cuddling her two-year-old son. ivanka chose to post this snapshot of familial bliss at the same time as the news was full of reports of children being at the US-Mexico border; a component of a “zero tolerance” immigration policy the Trump administration is responsible for creating. While Ivanka’s photo received immediate backlash, I was struck by the fact that the tweet was largely characterised as being “tone-deaf”. The general consensus seemed to be that Ivanka hadn’t considered how the photo might look amid horrific headlines about separated families. That she had been thoughtless.
Ivanka may be a lot of things, but thoughtless is not one of them. Ivanka is no ingenue, who has reluctantly been thrust into public life and is now struggling to keep her personal life separate from the political. She grew up surrounded by paparazzi; she is nothing if not media-savvy. What’s more, despite memorably telling she tries “to stay out of politics”, she has enthusiastically hurled herself into her unelected role in the White House and is an integral part of the administration. Indeed, both she and her husband Jared Kushner received full security clearance earlier this month. She is not passively complicit in the Trump administration’s policies; she is an active architect.
So, when Ivanka tweeted that photo on Sunday, I don’t think it was a gaffe- I believe she knew exactly what she was doing. Which was playing to Trump’s specific base; reminding them that it’s white households like hers- like theirs- who are important , not the brown families who Trump is breaking up; utilizing the image of herself as a loving mother to provide a human face to Trump’s inhumane administration. Ivanka is an important complement to Trump’s messaging. He does all the crass dehumanisation of immigrants, lumping them together with the gang MS-1 3 and calling them dangerous “animals” the US needs to protect itself from; she provides the aspirational imagery of the US that it was necessary to protecting.
The events of this past weekend have served to bolster my long-standing faith that Ivanka is the most odious of all the Trumps. While the entire family is morally bankrupt, at least the rest of the clan don’t feign they are anything other than greedy narcissists. Her slimy brothers certainly attain no attempt to appeal to liberals. Ivanka, however, seems intent on maintaining up the charade that she is some sort of champion of women and households. It is becoming increasingly obvious, however, that the only family Ivanka cares about is her own and the only woman she has any interest in empowering is herself.
Indeed, hot on the heels of the controversy around her photo, it was reported that the Ivanka Trump brand received approval for a number of trademark applications from China which, experts and watchdogs say, raise significant concerns about corruption. It seems that Ivanka Trump’s business, from which she has not properly divested, received these acceptances just days before Trump announced he was reversing a US ban on ZTE, a Chinese telecom firm. It is possible, of course, that this timing was merely coincidence and not a shady deal. However, that brings me to the second part of Ivanka’s Razor: when it comes to the Trumps, never attribute to coincidence that which can be explained by corruption.
Austerity in Britain: the opinion from the US
It is hard to hear uncomfortable truths about the UK from Trump’s US, of all places, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important that we do. Indeed, sometimes the most clear-sighted critiques come from outsiders’ eyes, as a recent article about austerity in Britain, published by the New York Times, demonstrates.
” After eight years of budget trim, Britain is looking less like the rest of Europe and more like the United States ,” the piece states,” with a shrinking welfare state and spreading poverty .” It then fleshes out this thesis with a dismal tour of Prescot, painting a dystopian picture of a poor Merseyside town in a crippled country, whose outlook has only been rendered bleaker by Brexit.
Funnily enough, the New York Times’s perspective wasn’t much appreciated by the Brexit-loving Spectator- whose editor once suggested that austerity benefits poor people. Within a matter of hours of the piece running live, the Spectator published an indignant fact check and riposte.” It’s safe to say the New York Times doesn’t take a particularly fond view of Britain these days ,” the Spectator sneered. It then went on to try and discredit the article by quibbling with the least important aspects of it. One of their “gotchas!”, for example, was the fact that the US paper had said that Prescot’s old library building had been turned into a luxury home, but hadn’t mentioned that the town does still have a library. What the Spectator did not choose to fact check, however, was the litany of damning statistics included in the article. Take, for example, the fact that national is supportive of libraries has fallen by nearly a third and the number of elderly people getting government care has fallen by” roughly a quarter “. Presumably the Spectator chose not to examine these statistics too exhaustively because they knew them to be true.
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