When someone has had to continually fight to be taken seriously and has intelligently engaged with the human soul, they have long since lost all fear. This is when they glamorously take to the stage, look the audience straight in the eye and declare that the emperor has no clothes.
Yesterday Meryl Streep precisely put into words the sadness of many who feel that Donald Trump’s election is a dumbing down of the best values of the United States, and that his ignorance and conflicts of interest are a danger to the stability of the planet.
In her acceptance speech for the honorary Cecil B. DeMille Award, Streep addressed the audience as a representative of one of the three sectors which Trump reviles: Hollywood, foreigners and the press. Perhaps to make her speech more effective and so as not to make it personal, she did not mention Trump’s usual insults towards women. Instead she spoke of the abuse of power. Of the vanity of those who think they are above the rest. She criticized the instinct to humiliate someone in public, that seeps into the lives of all.
It is vital that dignity is restored to politics and to inspiring leadership. Respect for honest politicians, the defence of difference and the fight for the freedom of expression and thought. These ideals are as important to the United States as they are to Europe. Those who remain silent are accomplices in the destruction of the values that have made us a special corner of the world. We Europeans ought not to be surprised by history, but it’s not clear whether we will understand it in time.