Carole Ashley

We live by brands, Trump lives off of branding. It’s time to rebrand our country, and then take it back.

With the election of a racist, trash-talking billionaire playboy there has probably never been a better moment to rename the U.S. We have POTUS, FLOTUS, SCOTUS, etc.*, so it’s high time to call the U.S.A. by its proper acronym: TUSOA. Now we have a smooth moniker for The United States Of America, which is both bombastic and inaccurate.

Illustration by Elise Engler http://www.eliseengler.com

Tusoa rolls off the tongue and has the look and sound of a small island, one of those idyllic places where willfully-oblivious white tourists darken their skin while a ‘low-intensity’ civil war, one-half instigated and funded by the CIA, rages on behind the strip. With the election of Donald Trump, white supremacists have scored their biggest victory in recent history. He both feeds and feeds off their smallness, rousing them to scream their resentment for everyone and everything they choose to see as alien to their interests: people of color, asylum-seekers and new immigrants, Muslims, powerful women, scientific reason, the First Amendment, and everyone who doesn’t conform to their biblical definitions of love, sex and family. Even though it’s going to hurt them, the screamers have joined in Trump’s trashing of the environmental movement, Native American rights, struggling students, the disabled, and hard-fought rights for women and girls.

Washington politicians, and most of the media did nothing to prevent this man with a neo-Nazi following from becoming president. Even though he’s a sexual predator, shady businessman, and advocate of torture, and lacks basic competence and knowledge, he was allowed to proceed with his campaign. Who cares that he has embraced nepotism and intends to keep on profiting from his global business interests? He considers himself above ethics and the law. Nothing distinguishes him from how we’d describe the dictator of a ‘banana republic.’ He’s our Ubu Roi, the strutting little despot in Alfred Jarry’s absurdist play, whose “central character is notorious for his infantile engagement with his world. Ubu inhabits a domain of greedy self-gratification.”** In Trump’s universe there are apparently no consequences for his words or actions.

Once Trump is installed, at least our newly named Tusoa won’t look or sound as monolithic and terrifying as The USA. When Tusoa rattles its bombs the black and brown people of the world might laugh rather than cower in anticipation of being obliterated, but to protect themselves they’ll need all the ingenuity they can muster.

Regardless of present circumstances it’s right to also avoid using ‘America,’ an arrogant appropriation that so riles citizens of the other countries on this continent, and conveniently, we have Tusoan, an easy to pronounce noun and adjective.

So Tusoans, awaken to your newly-tarnished land, vast in acreage, hugely unequal in wealth, race and class, and even more shriveled and cruel in its politics. To arms! (no guns!), using 21st century means to fight for real and inclusive democracy. We’re not going to accept the looming oligarchy dumped on us by a twisted con man.

Carole Ashley is an artist/photographer who lives in New York.

Illustration by Elise Engler

* POTUS: President of the US; FLOTUS: First Lady of the US; SCOTUS: Supreme Court of the US. http://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/scotus-potus-flotus

** Taylor, Jane. “Ubu and the Truth Commission”. University of Cape Town Press. 2007.

Ubu and the Truth Commission is a South African play by Jane Taylor first performed under the directorship of William Kentridge at The Laboratory in Johannesburg‘s Market Theatre[1] on 26 May 1997.

Ubu Roi (King Ubu or King Turd), a play by Alfred Jarry, first performed in 1896.