I’ll be upfront, there aren’t any jokes about breaking wind in this blog. In fact, this will be the only time flatulence will be mentioned. Mainly because I couldn’t find a good enough joke! I meant “Trumps” as in supporters of Donald Trump … from here on out I think I’ll call them Trumpettes. Donald Trump and the Trumpettes. It’s got a pretty good ring to it, doesn’t it? Okay, ramble over, I’ll start making my point now.
Like probably a gazillion other people, when I woke up yesterday I logged in to Facebook and checked my newsfeed. Like probably a gazillion other people, I have friends on there that aren’t actually my friends. They are people I used to know, or knew through someone else, and now the only contact I have with them is through whatever they post on their FB page that comes up in my newsfeed. Most of which I scroll past without a thought. But a friend of a friend (who I’ve not really been in contact with over the past few years – totally my fault) shared a video about something called the Free Hugs Project.
So, basically, it is what it says on the t-shirt. Members of this project go out and give people hugs. It’s not a charity in the sense that you donate money and get a hug. It’s not some trick to steal your wallet or copy your credit cards mid-hug. And it’s not a bunch of perverts trying to cop a feel. It is exactly what the name suggests it is; a project that offers free hugs. I know some people might be like “whhhhhhat?” but I think it’s amazing. I love hugs. I love giving them. I love getting them. I don’t think you can make a more powerful statement of affection or support or comfort or happiness or pretty much any other positive emotion you can think of than putting your arms around someone and allowing them into your personal space.
I’m very protective of my personal space. I don’t really like it when people broach that barrier. That said, I work in a team with four other girls and I give them all a hug when they start their shift and one when they leave. It sounds weird, even to me, as I write it and I’ve no idea how it started. But we’re a very happy team so … maybe it’s all the hugging. Who knows?
But, to get back on topic. The video my friend-of-a-friend-who-I’m-not-really-friends-with-anymore-which-is-totally-my-fault shared was of how people at a rally for Trump and those at a rally for Sanders reacted to this guy who was offering free hugs. In case you live in a cave like my friend’s mum (she really does live in a cave – I’ve seen the pictures. It’s a nice cave too!) Trump and Sanders are American politicians campaigning to be the next president.
Now, I have no clue what Sanders’ or Trump’s policies are and, in fact, I’m only peripherally aware of who Bernie Sanders is – so much so I keep wanting call him Saunders. I don’t know what they’ve promised to do for the country when they get elected. I’m not even sure who belongs to which party. I have, however, seen the slew of buzzfeed articles on how differently Obama (who, for all you troglodytes, is the reigning champ/president/whatever) and Trump deal with hecklers, or how they view women. I’ve also seen one video where Trump supporters are asked if they agreed with certain Trump quotes and when they agree they’re told the quotes were actually from Hitler. (My favourite reaction to this is the guy who says he doesn’t agree with Hitler and wouldn’t agree with the quotes if Hitler said them but would if Trump said them. Like, what??)
Despite this abundance of negative Trump clips I’m also aware that, if you look hard enough, you could probably find enough ambiguous video evidence to imply that Obama is really an elderly Chinese lady who lives in the antarctic and never leaves her home. Alright, so that’s an exaggeration but all I’m saying is that I’m mindful that you can find a specific bunch of quotes or clips to support any argument if you manipulate them correctly. Like, if you said “This is how Obama responded when we asked how he felt about puppies.” and then show a clip of him saying “We should bomb them all!”. Obviously, the average Joe would recognise that Obama’s answer was to a different question (I hope!) and someone had just spliced the clip together.
Basically, I take any articles like that with a huge pinch of reality. That said … the free hugs video absolutely terrified me. I might not understand all the ins and outs of America’s political system or who’s who in the race for the presidency or any of that stuff, but I think the caliber or character of a person can be most easily identified by the character/attitude/behaviour of those who support them. And this, for me, is when it all got a little scary.
If you haven’t watched the video yet, go watch it now and come back to me.
Back? Watched it? Excellent.
So, the video. If you were to watch it without knowing which group of supporters was attributed to whom – which candidate would you vote for based on the attitude of those at their rally?
Supporters of Candidate ‘A’. When offered a hug by a stranger their supporters tell him to get lost if he doesn’t share the same ideals as them. Threaten him with violence if he doesn’t share the same ideals as them. Place an arm around him and chant that they’re better than him because of their skin colour.
Supporters of Candidate ‘B’. When offered a hug by a stranger their supporters greet him with smiles and an open-armed welcome. Have people run up to him to get their free hug – a good percentage of whom are men (just sayin’). Isn’t even turned away by an on duty policeman in uniform.
Which group of people would you want to live next door to? Imagine if you needed a cup of sugar – Candidate ‘A’s supporters would likely call the police and have you arrested for trespassing. Candidate ‘B’s supporters would likely invite you in for cake. (This reminds me of Eddie Izzard's 'Cake or Death' sketch.)
I don’t live in America so maybe my opinion doesn’t count, but I do live in the same world. And I don’t want to live in a world where one of the most privileged countries is governed by a man who’s supporters not only turn down free hugs but think it's acceptable to verbally attack the person offering them. A world where a kindness is responded to with anger. A world where people think that responding to positivity with extreme negativity is an acceptable way to behave. Let’s hope the majority of American’s feel that way too … ‘cause I just can’t trust a man with a comb-over.