August 11, 2017

Posturing, Nuclear and Otherwise: Our Social Media Roundup

Instagram photo by @ivankatrump Caption: Air Force One. August 6, 2017

There is nothing more terrifying to Donald Trump than downtime. Faced with the specter of a 17 day vacation, he went postal on Twitter. Then he threatened North Korea with nuclear war. The dilemma, though, is that nobody knows how seriously to take him. Which brings us to our theme this week, which is: posturing.

Sometime posturing is phony, other times it’s blunt. How disheartening that the war bluster falls between the two. Of course, rampant militarism is a posture. It’s an especially troubling one as enabled by the State Department. You’ll notice a couple tweets below in response to White House photographer Shealah Craighead’s interview on PBS. (You can see all eight clipped quotes with our comments here.) They echo our theme in spades. Alyssa Shukar’s photos for the NYT are more than worth seeing. Situated at the intersection of race, income and the environment, the photos indict the posture of deregulation. And then, there’s the photo above. The vision of Ivanka Trump’s children mirroring the first couple says everything about our leader’s childlike posture.

Elicited by Trump’s “fire and fury” fit threatening a nuclear attack on Kim Jong Un, these kinds of pictures and stories are coming ashore. In a wave of simple irony, they emphasize how ordinary citizens are not massively egotistical and power mad. #Repost @gettyreportage ・・・ From the archive | North Koreans at a public beach on the east coast close to Wonsan, in August 2008. Photo by @gettyreportage contributor Irina Kalashnikova, who made two trips to North Korea in 2008 and 2009, accompanying a member of EU parliament. While there, she took extensive tours of the country, which were not without their restrictions. “One was that we were accompanied,” she writes, “at all hours of the day by a government official and a translator. Secondly, we were not taken to labour camps, nuclear sites, or to the north of the country, where the World Food Program has reported near-starvation conditions…. Out on the streets, our hosts, who were impeccably polite, allowed us to stop and talk to ordinary people, but with two official guides looking on, nobody I spoke to felt inclined to say anything negative about their lives in general or the regime in particular…. Yet if the people were reticent, they were always polite. The regime keeps up a constant barrage of propaganda portraying the country as under threat, in particular from the US and Japan, yet none of this fury or fear was evident in holidaymakers we met at a resort at Wonsan. On the beach, people were at their most relaxed, and we chatted happily to groups of students who bombarded me with questions about life outside. Some boys told me they play pirated American computer games without mentioning any anti-American rhetoric. One boy told me I was the first foreign person he had ever met…. Those I met showed none of the hostility to the outside world exhibited by their rulers, only an intense and polite curiosity. This friendly and dignified spirit of people is, I hope, captured in these photographs, with which I tried to show the humanity of the people I met. It is a humanity that gives me hope that, however the political tensions play out, they will one day enjoy a brighter future.” #northkorea #trump #nuclearwar

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Photo: @ivankatrump via Instagram. Caption: Air Force One. August 6, 2017

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Michael Shaw
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