What’s the connection? Besides the obvious tank, of course…
How about both being extreme alpha males who display a comprehensive disdain towards what the rest of us considers to be common courtesy?
Then how come both of them enjoy the unflagging support of millions of fans?
“James May and Richard Hammond – who have refused to work without him despite the former calling him “a knob” – might be expected to stand up for their co-star and (presumably) friend. But even the Prime Minister has called him “a friend” and “a huge talent”. Meanwhile, a petition to “Bring Back Clarkson” now has more than one million signatures.
Maybe it’s because he (Jeremy Clarkson) represents a particular group in society: financially middling white people who feel under assault from wider issues which they do not understand and who are happy to buy into the scapegoats of immigration, human rights and health and safety. These are the people who are most likely to complain about “PC gone mad”, and in Clarkson they have someone who appears to rail against all of that which constrains them. As one signatory commented: “Jeremy is a bastion of light in a dark PC world.” Of course, it is hard to work out what they aren’t actually allowed to say, given the headlines the Daily Mail gets away with every day, and the police officers who walk free after asking their black colleagues about eating bananas. (Judith Wanga, The Telegraph)
“I have lost count of how many nations my country has bombed in just the last few years. We bombed Afghanistan and the result is chaos. We bombed Iraq and the result is chaos. We bombed Libya and the result is chaos. We almost bombed Syria, but your President, Vladimir Putin, helped save us from that madness. Our policy seems to be that if we kill enough Muslims the survivors will believe in Jeffersonian democracy and wear bikinis.
I know it is tempting to think that the rulers of my country are evil, but they are not evil. It would be better if they were evil because it would be easier to unmask them and replace them. No, they genuinely believe that they are bringing enlightenment, modernity, freedom, and happiness to the world.
Of course, the United States government is not the same as the American people. There are many Americans, like me, who are dismayed by the arrogance and blindness of our government. Our voices are seldom heard, but we are there. And we support a strong and sovereign Russia that defends its traditions against all attacks. We support a Europe of nations and of regions, each with its own wonderful, irreplaceable traditions.” (Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, speaking before the Russian Conservative Forum, Sankt Petersburg, March 23, 2015)
So how come BBC dropped Clarkson despite Top Gear bringing in some 50 million pounds each year while Putin is still at the helm of the second most powerful nation, from the military point of view at least, in spite of the heavy economic hardships the Russian population has to endure as a result of Putin’s antics?
First of all BBC is a not for profit organization. So money is important but there are limits. “For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations.” (Tony Hall, BBC’s director general, the Independent). Besides that the wider public has sanctioned promptly Clarkson’s previous ‘slips’, preparing the ground for what had just happened.
Meanwhile ‘Russia’ is a country, not a company, so there is no such thing as a ‘wider public’. More over it is operated on a completely different set of principles:
““Even in its current inefficient form, Russia’s economy is sustainable as long as the citizenry is willing to live with hardship and lost opportunity,” Sucher points out. “History suggests that one should not underestimate the capacity of the Russian people to endure the unendurable.”
Russians’ presumed endurance, combined with their capability to put up with hard times and losses, are among the reasons why some experts don’t believe that social protests will happen in the foreseeable future.
However, the problem appears to be more complicated than it does at first glance. Even though Russians might have stamina to deal with economic hardships, will they trust the authorities in the future?
Trust in the government and the president remains crucial for maintaining a country’s social capital, as Ngaire Woods, dean at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Public Diplomacy, and her counterpart from China’s Tsinghua University, Xue Lan, agreed during the Gaidar Forum. So far, Russian President Vladimir Putin approval ratings are robust. But it remains to be seen if that will be the case in two to three years….
After all, some of Russia’s prominent sociologists and historians believe that the Kremlin manipulates the mentality of Russians to legitimize its regime. For example, Lev Gudkov, director of Russia’s Levada Center for public opinion polling, points out that Russians are experiencing a deep inferiority complex and a sort of psychological trauma after the collapse of the Soviet Union, all of which makes them easier to manipulate.” (Pavel Koshkin in Russia Direct, relating about what has been discussed at the Gaidar Economic Forum in January 2015)
So, while Clarkson – no matter how brazen he is as a person or adulated as a TV personality – is not high enough above the rest of the world to be impervious to the effects of his own deeds, Putin stands, at least for the moment, atop a very tall pedestal. So tall, in fact, that I’m afraid he no longer sees clearly what’s going on at the street level.
Only this pedestal is made of the flimsiest of construction materials – popular sentiment. When the Russians will finally understand that ‘the emperor is naked’…