It hasn’t happened yet but Michael Flatley’s decision to headline the Donald Trump inauguration tonight is shaping up be the worst decision of his remarkable career.
How, after such a bruising political campaign, one that shocked the world, can Flatley not know what will descend on him the moment he steps on stage at the Liberty Ball in Washington DC tomorrow night?
It will be international outrage. It will be fast and furious. It has already started.
After a bitterly divisive race in which Donald Trump targeted minorities, peddled lies about Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11, and bragged on tape about performing sexual assaults, he is taking office today with the lowest public approval numbers since records began.
Riot police took to the streets last night outside the so-called Delploraball in Washington DC, reminding us that there is likely only one way Trump’s administration is headed.
So, knowing all that, what could have drawn these two wildly differing men together – other than their penchant for spray tans?
Here’s what we know will happen. Flatley will become an international pariah before he lifts one polished heel on that stage. Twitter will erupt with scorn, satirical photo-shoppers will have a field day, the anger and mockery directed at him will be written in every language and will likely span the globe.
There’s a reason every major rock and pop act has seen the writing on the wall (which by the way Mexico will never pay for) and stayed away just like there’s a reason the chairman of the Presidential Inauguration Committee Tom Barrack told CNN they’d take a pass on Kanye West’s (an even bigger star) participation.
Barrack said that West “wasn’t right” for the “typically and traditionally American event.” What country he thinks Kanye West is from he didn’t say.
So in the same week that Trump bitterly attacked Civil Rights icon John Lewis, the chairman of his Inauguration committee was giving West the heave-ho for not being “right” or “traditional.”
Does someone need to draw Flatley a picture of the kind of people he’s entertaining tonight? Does he know that Trump plans to eliminate the the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities?
It’s true that other stars have taken paychecks for concerts in countries and in front of rulers that have raised eyebrows in the past. But this is the United States of America, not some far away autocratic dystopia. It’s the most powerful country on earth. What you do on the national stage here matters like nowhere else on earth.
Perhaps Flatley secretly believes he will rekindle the flame he lit in 1994 with Riverdance. If he does he is mistaken. In Ireland at that time Mary Robinson was president, an internationally celebrated human rights activist and scholar.
Robinson is as far from Donald Trump as 2017 is from 1994. There will be no celebrations, no national awakening. There will be no second Riverdance. I’m afraid he’ll rue this day.