Do Middle Fingers in New Zealand Portend New Global Trend for Trump Regime?
"I've never seen so many people flip the bird at a US motorcade," said one onlooker in New Zealand
After giving the world a series of symbolic insulting gestures since taking office in January, the administration of President Donald Trump is now facing literal middle fingers as people around the world appear increasingly willing to show the U.S. leadership how they really feel about their agenda.
"I want Trump followed everywhere he goes with an array of cheeky placards and taunts; a chorus of kazoos... [and] a crowd of raised middle fingers."
—Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett
As U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Wellington, New Zealand on Tuesday, his motorcade was greeted by throngs of angered local residents protesting with their middle fingers up—many voicing their opposition to Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate deal.
"I've never seen so many people flip the bird at an American motorcade as I saw today," said a New York Times reporter who was traveling in the press pool.
At a rally nearby, people threw objects, including shoes and water-filled condoms, at a paper maché puppet of Trump.
— Craig Kapitan (@HearsaySA) June 6, 2017
As Greenpeace activists dropped an enormous banner decrying Trump's withdraw from Paris, one New Zealander said the middle finger was actually a gesture too weak to express his anger. "As a Kiwi I can say it's my 'go to' form of displaying my discontent however we should come up with something more offensive for these dudes."
Whether over his dismissal of human rights concerns, the withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement last week, or the latest insults and lies hurled at the mayor of London in the wake of a violent attack in the city—the global populace seems increasingly ready to offer Trump their middle fingers.
As argued by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, writing for the Guardian on Tuesday, the British government should cancel a scheduled state visit by the U.S. president this summer. But if that doesn't happen, she said, people in the U.K. should seize the opportunity of his arrival to give Trump the kind of unwelcome salute that Tillerson received in New Zealand.
"If the Trump state visit goes ahead, I recommend that we view it as an opportunity to show Trump what we are made of, as my colleague Gaby Hinsliff suggested. We are not cowed, we are not reeling, and we are supremely unimpressed by anyone who seeks to divide us at times of tragedy."
She continued, "What better way to demonstrate this than through a festival of piss-taking, a jubilee of mockery that follows the president wherever he goes? One of the things that shone through on the women’s march was the hilarity of the signs and slogans. Consider that a benchmark to be beaten – I want Trump followed everywhere he goes with an array of cheeky placards and taunts; a chorus of kazoos... [and] a crowd of raised middle fingers."
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) June 6, 2017