Letters to the Editor, June 10, 2016
Rejecting even basic decency and respect
Donald Trump’s run for the White House has laid bare the irrelevance of Washington’s once highly-esteemed class of campaign advisers. It has also exposed the culpability of the media in its gluttonous coverage of Trump; and the extent to which misogyny, xenophobia, and full-blown racism still remain deeply entrenched within American culture.
Trump’s campaign has forced us to admit that political correctness has worked not to actually reduce, but only repress, hatred and racism. However, if Trump wins in November, it will not be because of those factors. It will be because there is something Americans love more than competent leadership, safety and security, more than even making a buck – and that’s entertainment.
Trump brings a level of showbiz to politics that hasn’t been seen in modern times. This is not an extension of ordinary political theatre, which has traditionally been about presenting heads of government as dignified, legitimate, and statesmanlike. In fact, Trump’s brand of crass political showmanship represents, among other things, the destruction of political theatre, and rejection even of minimal standards of decency, courtesy and respect.
The thing about reducing politics to mass entertainment is that it turns all the rules upside down: to be presidential is to be boring; to be concerned with evidence, rational arguments, and objective reality is to be stuffy, over-intellectual, and boring; to be respectful of difference and caring towards the less fortunate is to be self-hating, soft-hearted…and did I mention boring?
One might like to suppose that Trump must invariably get trounced in a debate against Clinton, at least if he doesn’t start seriously cracking open the books. His recent meeting with Kissinger may suggest that he is not unaware of this and is taking precautions. But, sad to say, this gives the American public too much credit.
The more knowledgeable and versed Clinton sounds, the more it will push away countless Americans who have rallied against such educated elites, thanks to Trump, who has tapped into a very American strain of anti-intellectualism.
Will America survive a Trump administration? Yes. This country has had awful presidents in the past but the United States is bigger than any one chief executive, regardless of how bloated, egomaniacal and hate-mongering he is. However, can we survive the complete absorption of politics into the culture of mass entertainment? That I’m not so sure about.
Dr Sam Ben-Meir, professor of philosophy, Eastern International College, Jersey City, US
We should not forget sacrifice students made
As a student, I appreciate the spirit shown by the students during the events that were brought to a head on June 4, 1989. They risked arrest and even death, but continued to bravely express their discontent towards the Chinese government. They were persistent in their fight for democracy.
Their actions show us the need to keep criticising the central government over what happened on June 4. But, it is not satisfactory if all we do is criticise. Rather than wasting time just criticising, we need to try to change our world and ensure history does not repeat itself.
Hongkongers need to pay attention to what is happening in our society. Students here should keep fighting to protect the freedoms we enjoy. And we need to reflect on the city’s future.
Looking back on what happened in 1989, I hope that history will not repeat itself.
Kassandra Wong Hiu-tung, Tseung Kwan O
Have fun, but also study hard at university
Now that the Diploma of Secondary Education exam is over, many students who worked hard will be looking forward to university.
They and their parents probably have very high expectations of learning a lot, getting a good degree and then starting a promising career.
However, as some correspondents have pointed out, some youngsters have to endure such a gruelling schedule with long hours during their school years that their love of learning has been killed off.
They have worked so hard to get an undergraduate place that now they want to have fun. It is as if they have already achieved their goals, when instead, they should be drawing up a new set of goals as they begin their degree programme.
I remember one of my teachers telling me she saw university as the real starting point in her life. The rote learning at school had ended and now she could learn subjects that really interested her in her own way. It inspired me to want to get to university and study hard.
I urge youngsters about to start their degrees to enjoy themselves and have some fun. But, you should also put a lot of effort into your studies and you will find it a rewarding experience.
Bobo Man Siu-ying, Tseung Kwan O
Green Hong Kong still just a distant hope
C. W. Cheung wants Hong Kong to become “Asia’s most sustainable city” (“Greener ways”, June 4).
Sadly, this will never happen while people go to work in jackets in June because of the insane overuse of air conditioning, or take separate lifts when two arrive at the same time for a few seconds of selfish extra comfort. A green Hong Kong with clean air is not only the government’s responsibility, it is the people’s, too.
Warren Russell, Tseung Kwan O
Roof gardens that only use natural rainfall
I refer to Sven Topp’s letter (“No need to use tonnes of earth for green roofs”, June 6).
We are pleased to advise that Midori-chan, our lightweight rooftop greening technology, which requires only natural rainfall for irrigation, is being progressively adopted by public and private clients for use here in Hong Kong.
The system was developed in Japan and has been trialled extensively here using local plant species and special soil mixes, all independently verified for loading characteristics. We have proved that only a minimal soil base is required to support a vast array of vegetation.
We are grateful to Mr Topp for mentioning some of the sites where our system is in use.
Sean J. Johnstone, general manager, Kawada Industries, Inc
Star should practise what he preaches
I find it ironic and misguided that Peter Tam, in his letter (“Actor’s green message had global reach”, June 7), praises Leonardo DiCaprio for doing his part to “save the planet”.
Now if Mr Tam had used Ed Begley Jr as an example, then I would not have felt the need to respond.
However, DiCaprio wants you and me to change our behaviour to help “save the planet”, but it appears that he is too important to make any efforts on his own part.
For example, I don’t think that renting the fifth largest yacht in the world for a week-long holiday does much to reduce carbon emissions. Neither does the six private jet flights he took across the US in a span of six weeks. But the most egregious is when he flew on a private jet from the US to Europe round-trip in the space of 24 hours to, wait for it, pick up an award for his concern for the environment. Private jets emit 37 times as much carbon as a commercial flight.
When those who say there is a crisis start behaving as if there is a crisis, then maybe then I’ll start paying attention to their grandstanding.
Mac Overton, Mid-Levels