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Criticism alone can’t heal divided society

By Norimasa Tahara / Yomiuri Shimbun Los Angeles Bureau ChiefVeteran actress Meryl Streep spoke harshly about then President-elect Donald Trump in her acceptance speech at the Golden Globe film awards in the United States in early January.

“Disrespect invites disrespect.” “When the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.”

The media praised her speech and Hollywood as a whole was united against Trump.

Trump struck back in a tweet — “Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood.”

How Trump attacked a textbook statement reminded me of his bitter war of words in the U.S. presidential election against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. In fact, Streep is a supporter of Clinton and made a campaign speech at the Democratic National Convention during the election.

Trump verbally abused Streep, calling her a “Hillary flunky.” What he seems to have meant is “Streep belongs to the so-called establishment that is different from us.”

Another person pounced on her speech other than Trump: Trevor Noah, the host of a popular TV comedy program called “The Daily Show.”

According to him, part of her speech — “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts” — made fun of American football fans.

Streep likely did not have that intention. However, even taking the sarcastic nature of the show into account, I believe not a few people think like Noah.

American football is a national sport in the United States. Even if they have nothing to do with the dazzling world of Hollywood, quite a few people see the sport as a familiar entertainment they can casually enjoy on TV or through other media.

A 38-year-old male factory worker from the midwestern state of Wisconsin, whose hobby is watching American football, said her speech sounded arrogant to him and she could not care less about American football fans and others. He is not a proponent of Trump, but he must be one of “the forgotten men” who Trump promised to support in his inaugural speech.

I feel Streep’s speech did not resonate with all the people as widely as it was praised in the media. Criticism of Trump that echoes Clinton merely provides Trump with opportunities for attacks that deepen the division of U.S. society. Such an attitude will not lead to building public opinion that can promote the integration of society.

Columnist Meghan McCain, a daughter of leading U.S. Republican Sen. John McCain, said: “This Meryl Streep speech is why Trump won. And if people in Hollywood don’t start recognizing why and how — you will help him get re-elected,” insisting that conventional methods would not be able to break the deadlock.

Are there any means to counter Trump, who is gaining momentum?

Streep expressed her expectations of journalists at the end of her speech — “We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage.”

The media must also aim to integrate society while thinking outside the box and not sticking only to criticism, and facing Trump with patience.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 5, 2017)Speech

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