By Ben Pensant
The one silver lining of Donald Trump’s victory was the way it united the most vilified groups in society: ethnic minorities, middle-class journalists and rich actors who know as much about real life as I do about snorting coke off a dead hooker’s tits. In fact, the election result has energised liberals right across the board, fostering an Us & Them swagger all the way from Twitter to Facebook. And nowhere was this solidarity more clear than in LA on Sunday night, when Meryl Streep brought tears to the eyes of a room full of millionaires whose job it is to pretend to cry. By talking about something that never happened.
For anyone too busy basking in their white male privilege to notice, Meryl used her Golden Globes acceptance speech to show what a tolerant, level-headed liberal she is by looking down her nose at sports fans, presenting the most entitled people on earth as victims and repeating a claim that was debunked months ago.
In fact, this claim – that Trump mocked a reporter’s disability at a rally in 2015 – has been so thoroughly discredited that anyone with five minutes to spare can find an abundance of evidence showing it to be untrue. Which explains why most liberals haven’t bothered. And boy, did that tactic work as every liberal-left outlet under the sun came out in support of Streep’s condemnation of Trump for something he didn’t actually do. But the little people on social media made a difference too, stubbornly ignoring advice to find out what really happened and generally behaving in the manner you’d expect from people who’ve spent months attacking fake news and low-information voters but are happy to disseminate an unverified story about Trump paying hookers to have a slash on Obama’s favourite pillow.
Of course, neither Meryl nor her worshippers appear to know much about the reporter but this is unimportant. So unimportant in fact, that none of the dozen people I asked about him on social media could provide any info on his disability or remember his name. And why should they? The left fight battles daily and Twitter is our frontline. When you’re dodging ideological bullets you can’t be expected to learn unimportant facts like what someone is called before before talking about them. And as for how his disability affects him? If you think we’ve got time to research such trivialities when there are deplorables to block then think again.
No, far better to simply refer to Serge Kovaleski – that’s his name, I Googled it and everything – as The Disabled Reporter. Because people lose their worth when you start treating them as human beings rather than tokens. Far better to give this Pulitzer-winning journalist the respect he deserves by reducing him to a nameless symbol for us to hang our virtue on, defined entirely by his disability and usefulness to people who hate Trump. Some may argue this is way more offensive than a speech by a boorish reality star but let me spell it out in words even a Leave-voter might understand: He’s not important. We are.
But we should never forget why we refuse to engage with evidence that might derail our pre-conceived ideas. Because it’s not just about making ourselves feel virtuous, as life-affirming as smug superiority feels. No, it’s about protecting the helpless creature with the funny arm – the funny arm we’ve convinced ourselves Trump mocked at that infamous hate-rally.
Because as Meryl so kindly and patronisingly put it, when Trump picked on The Disabled Reporter he was picking on someone unable to defend himself, despite being a respected journalist of 30 years experience more than capable of holding his own in a battle of wits with a tantrum-throwing playboy whose favoured method of discourse is arguing with people on Twitter. But thankfully the overwhelming majority of liberals know bugger all about Kowalski and remain completely in the dark about the whole story. Which is a huge relief as the last thing we need is off-piste progressives doing their own research and realising Streep’s claim doesn’t hold up to the slightest scrutiny.
Luckily, my test was a success and the deafening silence I received after asking commenters if they could pinpoint which specific characteristics of Bukowski’s disability were being mocked was joyous. From Streep – only a few Goldman Sachs speeches short of going full-Hillary – right down to useful idiots like yours truly, this was the greatest collective attempt at maintaining a false narrative since the last time some berk argued that the recent spike in hate-crime was down to Brexit emboldening racists. Nothing whatsoever to do with the Orwellian way the police have re-defined what constitutes a hate-crime, leading to educated nuggets like Professor Joshua Silver reporting the Home Secretary for suggesting a policy he wasn’t keen on (Hugh Muir, The Guardian, 31/12/16 if you must know).
And should you ask a liberal scaremonger for evidence of the presumably huge number of hate-crime charges or convictions? Well, you’ll be met with the exact same same silence I was when I enquired if any of these shrieking violets knew the first thing about The Disabled Reporter’s condition. Solidarity, kids.
Because the modern left is defined by inclusiveness: we’re open to everyone, apart from people who think differently to us. Which, granted, is most of the world’s population but as Brexit, Trump and the continued success of Mr Brown’s Boys has proven, they’re all racist idiots who think it’s funny to mock disabled people and dress up as old ladies. Which is why we must rigorously support these claims despite the fact it’s as clear as the white hood in Trump’s wardrobe that he didn’t actually mock Lewandowski for being disabled.
For liberals who don’t know the background of Trump’s beef with The Disabled Reporter – ie most of you – it’s important to remember that the truth is only worth knowing so it can be avoided. Anyone venturing into the murky world of inconvenient facts about Trump would do well to adopt Seymour Skinner’s line of thinking after he was spotted in Springfield’s notorious Burlesque club: ‘I only went in there to find out how to get out of there!’. That’s right, the left has become so incapable of independent thought we’re offering lifestyle tips from shell-shocked cartoon characters.
But it makes far more sense for principled liberals to simply carry on believing Trump was mocking someone’s disability. Because like our former PM, Trump long ago forfeited the right to plead innocent to something he didn’t do. Indeed, to this day the same people who gleefully accepted the unverified claim that David Cameron once stuck his cock inside a pig’s head point-blank refuse to believe Jeremy Corbyn has ever defended and supported terrorists and anti-Semites. Despite the mountain of evidence clearly showing Jeremy Corbyn has defended and supported terrorists and anti-Semites.
But back to 2015. As you may recall (which few seem to do, least of all Streep who thinks it happened in 2016), Trump gave a speech in some redneck backwater mocking Lewinski for saying he couldn’t remember writing a report for the Washington Post which backed up Trump’s claim that thousands of Arabs celebrated in New Jersey as the Twin Towers collapsed. And The Disabled Reporter had a point, as there was no record of this. What there was a record of, however, was a group of a dozen or so Arabs watching the carnage unfold from a roof across the Hudson, many of whom were later arrested in widely reported terror swoops.
Rather than putting Trump’s original comments down to his habit of exaggerating wildly, Klaus Kinski – now at the New York Times – wisely avoided a war of words by saying he couldn’t remember mentioning anything about ‘thousands or even hundreds’ of Arabs. Which the NYT and The WP quickly re-shaped to give the impression the rooftop celebrations never happened at all. Although why these two anti-Trump papers would want to bury the story is an utter mystery, up there with brainteasers like ‘Why are Hugh Grant, Max Mosley and Steve Coogan so keen on censoring tabloids?’.
So, ridiculous ego suitably bruised, Trump decided this brief rebuke constituted a form of grovelling and childishly mocked The Disabled Reporter with the infamous impression, a gift from the gods to a media eager to believe Trump wasn’t just a loud-mouthed bully with a fondness for tyrants but also someone who makes fun of disabled people. Especially disabled people he didn’t even know were disabled.
This last point was contested by Novak, who pointed out he interviewed Trump several times in the ’80s. Job done. Because a man on a flying horse can see it’s completely unacceptable for Trump to forget one of thousands of reporters to have indulged him and kissed his arse way before he became the most evil man alive.
The problem for us liberals in protecting this narrative, however, is that if Trump did know The Disabled Reporter it would render the impression redundant as Trump would know his disability doesn’t cause spasms or affect speech. But fear not, this is easily remedied by playing deaf and dumb, as I found out when I asked a cross-section of Streep groupies if they could describe any of the physical side-effects of arthrogryposis and received two replies: ‘Shit like you is not worth spending time on’ and ‘What the fuck’s arthrogryposis?’.
Because thankfully, most of those moralising online have barely seen a photo of Novoselic let alone learnt that his disability looks nothing whatsoever like Trump’s impression, gifting them the moral fibre to inadvertently reduce an otherwise able-bodied man with a rigid right arm into a generic ‘spastic’ cliché who flails his limbs around and talks funny.
‘But that’s exactly what Trump was doing!’ we counter. And freeze-framed and put next to a picture of The Disabled Reporter featuring his right arm this is almost convincing. Provided you ignore the many pieces of video footage showing Trump had previously done the exact same impression when mocking non-disabled people.
The NYT, the Washington Post, CNN and the liberal media at large have done a sterling job of pretending these videos don’t exist. And with good reason, as they clearly show Trump mocking a general, impersonating Ted Cruz and even mimicking himself on Larry King in the exact same way. But the fact that this appears to be Trump’s standard impression for sneering at flustered people he disagrees with does not in any way make him innocent of mocking The Disabled Reporter for being disabled. No, that die was cast long ago and if wealthy role-models like Streep can stick to it then us normal folk bloody well can. It’s no more than Mr Wajadubakowski deserves.
And the conflicting proof being furiously forwarded by alt-right Nazis, Republican hawks and people who value facts over ideology? Well luckily, despite the whole story being available from a number of outlets, liberals were able to dismiss the pile of evidence instantly due to the fact that the most widely circulated link came from a website called Catholics 4 Trump. Bingo!
Because no self-respecting lefty would contemplate accessing such blatantly pro-Trump sources, no matter how many demonstrable facts they shove under our noses. The last thing we have time to do is trawl through an exhaustive and forensically-detailed account of the whole episode, from 9/11 right through to last week’s Golden Globes. These Twitter trolls won’t block themselves, y’know. And to check we were all on the same page I presented this link to a number of people and they all point-blank refused to read it. Beautiful.
Because in the fight against fascism playing dirty and propagating lies is positively encouraged. Trump does it so why shouldn’t we? The fact that we think of ourselves as a cut above the Milos of this world is irrelevant: sometimes you have to fight fake news with fake news. So for every Sun story demonizing immigrants there’s a fabricated report that post-Brexit hate crime has spiked; for every unfounded claim that Black Lives Matter organised the Chicago kidnapping there’s a fictional account of Trump supporters attacking Muslims on the subway; and for every alt-right conspiracy theory about paedophiles and pizza parlours there’s a paragraph in a dossier alleging Trump spent Christmas Day in Moscow wearing kids’ pyjamas and watching animated Japanese bongo.
But cognitive dissonance is as much a part of liberal ideology as respect, decency and believing mischievous gay journalists are worse human beings than people who celebrate Israelis being squashed to death by a truck. And it doesn’t stop there – many of those I encountered online defending a Disabled Reporter whose name they couldn’t be arsed to look up are also supporters of Section 40. Hear, hear. It’s refreshing to know those quick to defend a journalist in a war of words with a powerful, arrogant billionaire are 100% in favour of regulations making it easier for journalists to be censored by powerful, arrogant billionaires.
Inconsistent? You betcha, but the left long stopped believing you could make the world a better place with facts and clarity. Which is why the same people who condemn the gutter press for printing squalid lies think nothing of rabidly endorsing stories about pissing prostitutes that the National Enquirer would reject for being too lurid. And why all week right-thinking people have been falling over themselves to pay tribute to the basic decency of a millionaire actress who once led a standing ovation for a man who drugged and anally raped a child.
Now that’s what I call an Iron Lady.