Recently, HBO comedian and commentator John Oliver reflected the views of many in the US and abroad, in responding to the election of Donald Trump by emphasising that this is “not normal”.
Yet while as I concur that the era of Trumpism represents something new and horrifying – perhaps even “an emerging neo-fascist moment” – we should not let the fact that this is “not normal” delude us into thinking that “normal” was anything but a façade.
During the era of “normal” politics, Obama and Bush granted themselves the right to use flying robots to execute people they don’t like, without any due process of law.
During the era of “normal” politics, a “centre-left” labour prime minister misled the British parliament in 2003 into an unjustifiable and badly executed war in a country that did not in any way threaten the UK.
During the era of “normal” politics, a series of Israeli “peacemakers” moved more than half a million civilians into someone else’s country while utilising foreign money and support to suppress the indigenous population and carve up the remaining land.
During the era of “normal” politics, the UK and the US granted themselves unrivalled ability to spy on their own citizens and the citizens of other states.
During the era of “normal” politics, the UK, US and secret services from allied states arrested, detained and – in some cases – tortured civilians in so-called “black sites” that existed outside the law, but were dotted around the globe and during the era of “normal” politics, no one was prosecuted for this torture.
During the era of “normal” politics, the UK sold £12.3 billion worth of arms to repressive regimes.
During the era of “normal” politics, Europe responded to the plight of refugees seeking shelter from desperate hardship and indescribable turmoil by closing their borders and deploying battleships to the Mediterranean Sea.
During the era of “normal” politics, tyrannical strongmen dominated governments across the Middle East, yet when they faced popular uprisings, leaders in London, Washington and other Western capitals – while invoking the notion of human rights – elected to topple some, undermine some and yet embrace others no matter what kind of crimes they may be guilty of.
When history reflects on the rise of Trump, it should not dwell on the surprise of his victory or the unexpected appeal of populist authoritarianism, but it should look deeper to see how the rotten roots of our impending “neo-fascist moment” permeated our “normal” lives and was visible to anyone who cared to look.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.