Is another golf course more valuable than pristine, unique wilderness?
In Donald Trump's world it is. Trump is in the process of trying to bulldoze one of Britain's very last stretches of wilderness and turn it into not one but two golf courses. You've Been Trumped, a powerful new film shown on opening night of the D.C. Environmental Film Festival, tells the tale from the moment Trump's jet lands in Aberdeen, Scotland with the Donald and his coterie on board, to the sorry affair that exists today: wilderness gone, wildlife habitat destroyed, and the lives of local villagers irreparably harmed by the development.
Here's the back story, taken from the movie's synopsis: Billionaire Donald Trump has bought up hundreds of acres on the northeast coast of Scotland, best known to movie-lovers as the setting for the 1983 classic film Local Hero. And like the American oil tycoon played by Burt Lancaster, Trump needs to buy out a few more locals to make the deal come true. In a land swimming with golf courses, Trump is going to build two more – along with a 450-room hotel and 1,500 luxury homes. The trouble is, the land he has purchased occupies one of Europe’s most environmentally sensitive stretches of coast, described by one leading scientist as Scotland’s Amazon rain forest. Local residents don't want it destroyed.
Initially, the project was rejected by the region's government. But mysteriously, the national Scottish Government overturns its own environmental laws to give Trump the green light. Bulldozers spring into action. Water and power are cut off; it takes some homeowners ten days to get the developers to restore these basic amenities. Land disputes erupt while the developers destroy the homeowners' private property. In one mind- boggling incident, bulldozers pile up thousands of tons of dirt next to the homes of private citizens who oppose the project.
The local police ignore citizens' complaints and instead arrest the film's director, Anthony Baxter. Donald Trump is awarded an honorary doctorate from a local university while his tractors turn wild, untouched dunes into fairways.
Donald Trump could not appear less sympathetic, especially in this "Occupy" era. He insults local residents like Walter Forbes, right, calling them "pigs" and worse, while claiming his project will bring strong economic growth to this part of Scotland – even though the region is prospering and has less than a 2% unemployment rate. He worries far more about his helmet of hair, which is getting blown about in the wind, than about the women and men whose heritage the development is destroying. He ogles Miss Scotland, who is on hand for a press event, embarrassing her by telling her how pretty she is, as if he has sized her up for a job in one of his casinos.
It takes a long time for the citizens to mount a community protest against the project. "It's not in their blood," said Anthony Baxter, when he spoke with the audience after the screening. Baxter is appealing to Americans to help raise awareness that will stop further development by helping him get the film into more theaters. He's also posted links on the film's Take Action page that make it easy to tweet the Donald or send a letter to the Scottish minister who approved the project.
This being Washington, D.C., the audience offered some additional ideas to Baxter. One person suggested that people write to the Scottish ambassador to the U.S. and urge the project to be shut down. Another suggested Baxter organize and "Occupy Trump Tower" in New York.
Baxter appreciated the suggestions while warning Washingtonians to beware: Donald Trump has just gotten the contract to redevelop the historic Old Post Office in D.C. It's located on Pennsylvania Ave, right in between the U.S. Capitol building and the White House.
"You could be Trumped yourselves," he cautioned.
Don't miss other great films in the D.C. Environmental Film Fest.
Here's a calendar of showings between now and March 25.