Trump to get red car­pet treat­ment — and big protests — dur­ing UK trip

Yuma Sun - - OPINION -

LON­DON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will get the red car­pet treat­ment on his brief visit to Bri­tain be­gin­ning Thurs­day: Mil­i­tary bands at a gala din­ner, lunch with the prime min­is­ter at her coun­try res­i­dence, then tea with the queen at Wind­sor Cas­tle be­fore fly­ing off to one of his golf clubs in Scot­land.

But trip plan­ners may go out of their way to shield Trump from view­ing an­other as­pect of the greet­ing: an over­sized bal­loon de­pict­ing the pres­i­dent as an an­gry baby in a di­a­per that will be flown from Par­lia­ment Square dur­ing what are ex­pected to be mas­sive gath­er­ings of pro­test­ers op­posed to Trump’s pres­ence.

Rarely has a for­eign leader been so mocked on an of­fi­cial visit — Lon­don’s mayor, a Mus­lim who has chal­lenged Trump’s world view — OK’d the bal­loon, which is an apt sym­bol of Trump’s tem­pes­tu­ous re­la­tion­ship with Bri­tain, tra­di­tion­ally the United States’ clos­est ally.

It is not sim­ply the pro­test­ers, who are ex­pected to dog Trump through­out his visit, in­clud­ing his week­end in Scot­land, but his fraught re­la­tion­ship with po­lit­i­cal lead­ers ac­cus­tomed to har­mo­nious ex­changes with U.S. lead­ers, a tra­di­tion of unity that goes back at least to the vi­tal World War II part­ner­ship of Franklin D. Roo­sevelt and Win­ston Churchill.

Trump may have ruf­fled feath­ers again when he said just be­fore de­part­ing for Europe that the UK was in “tur­moil,” sug­gest­ing it was “up to the peo­ple” to de­cide if Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May re­mains in power af­ter a few days that saw her author­ity chal­lenged by the res­ig­na­tion of two prom­i­nent Cabi­net min­is­ters protest­ing her Brexit pol­icy.

He has clashed in the past with May — even though she is a fel­low con­ser­va­tive who shares his view that de­fense spend­ing should be hiked — and with her pre­de­ces­sor, David Cameron, who chal­lenged Trump’s anti-Mus­lim cam­paign stance as “di­vi­sive, stupid and wrong.”

Labour Party leg­is­la­tor Paul Flynn, who has crit­i­cized Trump in Par­lia­ment, says Trump has out­raged Bri­tons — and peo­ple around the world — with his harsh treat­ment of im­mi­grants.

“Give us your weary and your op­pressed and we’ll di­vide you from your chil­dren,” he said of Trump’s poli­cies. “It seems so un-Amer­i­can. We greatly re­spect Amer­ica as a gen­er­ous place built up by im­mi­grants over the years. Peo­ple see him as a cheap huck­ster who hap­pens to have an of­fice we re­spect as pres­i­dent of the United States.”

Trump an­gered May and many Bri­tons by tweet­ing in­flam­ma­tory and un­ver­i­fied videos made by Bri­tain First, an an­tiMus­lim group whose lead­ers have been con­victed of hate crimes, and by char­ac­ter­iz­ing parts of Lon­don and other cities as no-go ar­eas be­cause of a pur­ported Mus­lim-re­lated crime wave.

His “Amer­ica First” poli­cies, in­clud­ing the de­ci­sion to pull the United States out of the Paris cli­mate ac­cord and the nu­clear deal with Iran, have brought him into con­flict with Bri­tain’s lead­ers over is­sues of real sub­stance. Both of those ac­cords were the re­sult of years of painstak­ing diplo­macy by Euro­pean lead­ers — and Trump uni­lat­er­ally trashed them.

Top it off with the in­tro­duc­tion of trade poli­cies that have tar­geted some Euro­pean in­dus­tries — even though Euro­pean na­tions are long­time friends ac­cus­tomed to easy trade with the United States — and it is not sur­pris­ing that Trump’s itin­er­ary will keep him out of cen­tral Lon­don on Fri­day, when large protests are planned.

The U.S. Em­bassy has even warned Amer­i­can ci­ti­zens to keep a low profile dur­ing the visit be­cause of the planned protests — the sort of warn­ing usu­ally is­sued in more volatile lo­ca­tions.

U.S. Am­bas­sador Woody John­son said Wednes­day ci­ti­zens are of­ten ad­vised to avoid pub­lic demon­stra­tions and that he is not up­set by the de­ci­sion to al­low the “Trump baby” bal­loon to be dis­played near Par­lia­ment.

Trump has been quick to crit­i­cize British so­ci­ety, telling an NRA con­ven­tion in May that the British didn’t have guns but had so much knife crime that one hos­pi­tal was like a mil­i­tary war zone with its floors awash with blood — a state­ment quickly re­but­ted by British physi­cians and politi­cians.

The an­tipa­thy be­tween Trump and seg­ments of the British pub­lic started dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, when Trump called for a tem­po­rary ban on Mus­lims en­ter­ing the United States. That led roughly half a mil­lion peo­ple to sign a pe­ti­tion calling for Trump to be banned from en­ter­ing the UK.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

IN THIS PHOTO TAKEN ON TUES­DAY, a six-me­ter high car­toon baby blimp of U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump stands in­flated dur­ing a prac­tice ses­sion in Bing­field Park, north Lon­don. The bal­loon de­pict­ing the pres­i­dent as an an­gry baby in a di­a­per will be flown from Par­lia­ment Square dur­ing what are ex­pected to be mas­sive gath­er­ings of pro­test­ers op­posed to Trump’s pres­ence.

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