Damien Enright: 'Are they mean to people?' Donald Trump asked about badgers

Damien Enright: 'Are they mean to people?' Donald Trump asked about badgers

'Are they mean to people?' Donald Trump asked about badgers, a preoccupation of his for months.

"Mean" in New York City-speak means vicious or vengeful. As far as I know, badgers are not 'mean' to people and avoid them if possible. They may be mean to dogs, using their long, sharp claws to defend themselves if attacked. However, left unmolested, they simply lumber about, digging up earthworms and feeding on large insects, small mammals, and a variety of tubers and plants.

With the claws, they also dig setts and where a badger family 'settles' and proliferates, their tunnels may cover a surprisingly wide area of forest floor, or rough ground. They will, of course, dig up a lawn if the lawn is far enough from humans, but are not like moles, which will dig up the green spaces in parks, on golf greens and fairways. However, there are no moles in Ireland.

Donal Trump, the would-be macho president, has an illogical fear of badgers and according to a book called Sinking in the Swamp: How Trump’s Minions and Misfits Poisoned Washington, written by two White House reporters for The Daily Beast, an American news and opinion website, he regularly 'badgered' his White House chief of staff (who come from the Badger State of Wisconsin) with questions about them, interrupting vital meetings on subjects as important as US military tactics in Afghanistan, and taking away health-care coverage for millions of American citizens.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

He asked his Chief of Staff if he could show him some pictures of badgers, seeming to be unaware of the potential of his mobile phone. A literate child could have told him he only had to Google "badger images" to view badgers of every variety on the small screen After Egon Musk, the Twitter/Tesla billionaire recently sent astronauts to the moon at his own expense, I saw a cartoon of Trump suggesting to Angela Merkel that maybe he should send American astronauts to the sun. Mrs Merkel, hands covering her face in desperation, says, "You can't send astronauts to the sun because they will burn", to which Donal answers

What if we sent them at night?

Do I believe Trump could be so ignorant? Well, no... but then, according to the book published by his erstwhile buddy John Bolton, he thought Finland was in Russia and didn't know that Britain was a nuclear power.

Even of one ignores his ignorance of the world and the universe that surrounds it, it's difficult to write a 'balanced' article about a self-described saviour of mankind who, according to his own chief of staff interrupts decisions about withdrawing health care coverage from millions to ask if the badger has a "personality" or if it is "boring".

Finding a single Trump quotation expressing empathy with anybody other than himself, his immediate family and supporters is a near-impossible challenge. His only preoccupation seems to be badgers and re-election. Decency, fair play or the onslaught of Covid-19 on the population he governs have no part of his agenda.

While he, master of the universe, fiddles, the planet burns. We notice here in the Canaries. that the wooden balcony railing is so hot at 9pm that one could fry eggs on it. Families of Tinerfeños (holidaymakers from Tenerife) still splash in the sea and sprawl on the beach at eight in the evening. It takes truly hot weather to tempt Canarians into the ocean; they think us northern Europeans mad when they see us sea bathing at any time before July.

Is it not extraordinary that the heat of that burning planet, the sun, 95 million miles away from earth, warms the sand on the beach, the tiles on the roof to a degree so hot that they will burn human skin at a touch? The temperature here in La Gomera is only 25C but it is, of course 25C from morning to night. My wife and I, flying home on July 4th, look forward to some west Cork weather, come rain or come shine.

On arrival, we will have to isolate or quarantine, even though we are will be coming from the first place in Europe to have been declared free of Corvid-19. La Gomera had only 8 cases, and no deaths.

However, we will, of course, have mixed with others at the airport and on the plane. We will wear masks, and carry small bottles of alcohol for systematic and regular hand washing all the way. Por gracia de Dios, we have been spared contact with the virus since the first case on this island was reported in February.

We do not want to bring it to Ireland with us, or to come in contact with it there.

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