A talented music composer and lovely friend of mine, Stuart Wood, moved to LA from London, three years ago. It's been very interesting to follow his adventures as he navigates his new homeland. And wonderful to see him gradual acclimatise and make new friends and connections. Whilst he (perhaps luckily) missed experiencing the shock of the Brexit referendum, first hand, he now finds himself deeply ensconced in American, in the run up to its elections. The US' equally pivotal moment.
To say that Donald Trump would never be Stuart's candidate of choice is somewhat of an understatement. However, as an artist, he was angered by the recent vandalism of Donald's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
I've been interested in the debate that this ignited on Facebook, as well as proud of Stuart's strong principles and passion. He wrote: "I find violence against cultural monuments wrong. I have enjoyed seeing the many protests and reactions to this star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame over the past year but to smash it with a sledgehammer feels like we have lost the ability to voice our protest intelligently or with dignity. This is hardly in the spirit of 'when they go low, we go high'."
Stuart added that history: "...reminds us of who we are and how we got here. Removal can make some things more powerful in the minds of fanatics, whereas their gradual erosion is a greater power".
Whilst I completely see Stuart's point - and that of his friend who agreed that there are more creative ways to protest - I think that the issue here is bigger than that.
For the record, I was pretty shocked to discover that Donald Trump has a Hollywood star in the first place - a news item that, thankfully, had evaded me, until now. Regardless of this election campaign, I'm at a loss to understand how he could ever merit being in the same league as the other people the honour has been bestowed upon. I realise that anyone can apply and that there is a certain commercial element to the whole thing but even so, what on earth - apart from money - would make the selection committee accept his application? (Did I just answer my own rhetorical question there?....) To me, having Trump's star sit alongside those of people like Marlon Brando seems to make a mockery of the whole thing. A brand devalued in one fell swoop.
Even so, like Stuart, I don't agree with smashing Donald's star - I'm definitely of the "when they go low, we go high" philosophy, espoused by Michelle Obama. I also agree that such destructive acts can be seen to justify prejudices and spur fanatics on. And I definitely agree that it's crucial not to try to erase Trump from our history. Quite the contrary, in fact. Lessons need to be learnt and the pain needs to be remembered.
However, whilst I most certainly don't condone violence and vandalism, I understand that it isn't always easy to be so rational, when faced daily with injustice and prejudice. I can imagine the level of blood-boiling that walking over that star every day might induce in someone... In a way, a bit like walking past that statue of Saddam that the Iraqi people couldn't wait to tear down...Perhaps to some people in the US, this extreme vandalism WAS a 'creative' approach. And perhaps the fact that a replacement, rather than the original star, will always sit there now will serve two purposes: 1) Appease the Trump-lovers, as they've got their star back, so will feel that they have 'won'; 2) Be a strong and unequivocal reminder in the history books of the strength of feeling against Trump. Perhaps an even better reminder than simply saying: 'There were protests'.