activism current affairs

Why I’ll be joining the Trump protest today

President Trump is in Britain this week. He is being carefully steered from golf course to country mansion to avoid the crowds, as dozens of events are planned up and down the land to protest against his presence. I’m not someone who turns out for protests very often, but I will be joining the London march today.

Donald Trump represents almost everything I oppose: extreme inequality, climate change, rapacious greed, racism, misogyny, militarism, protectionism. He is an obstacle to practically every cause I support. He represents the past that will not go quietly.

Trump’s Republican administration has already alienated allies, started a trade war, destabilised the Middle East, set the climate agenda back by years, and appalled the world with its cruelty at the borders. In all of this Trump appears to have no conscience, no concept of truth, and no regard for anyone but himself. He is an agent of chaos, and thrives on the outrage that he provokes. We are only 18 months into his time in office. Things can get a lot worse before his four years are out, let alone a second term.

And yet, today Donald Trump will spend the day being flattered by the British government and the royal family. Red carpets will be rolled out, silver will be polished. Fawning speeches will be made about the special relationship.

Theresa May can’t say what she really thinks. She has diplomatic ties to maintain, however much we may dislike it. That’s why the rest of us need to make it clear what we think: that these are not our values. We reject Trump’s fear, hatred and greed. These views and policies, whoever holds them, are unwelcome in Britain. We will stand for peace, cooperation, and the common good.

I’m not taking a placard with me this afternoon. I won’t be burning effigies or chanting obscenities. We shouldn’t meet hatred with hatred, and one of the reasons that I’m going along is that it’s important to have moderate voices present too.

I suspect that Trump won’t notice the protests, and that he’ll take to Twitter to declare how much Britain loves him. But our own government knows about the demonstrations and has already had to fit its plans around them. The more people turn out, the more clearly we can communicate that we won’t stand by and do nothing while hatred, greed and division are treated as normal.

2 comments

  1. I think it risks vanity positioning ideas which you believe in as ‘the future’ and those you disagree with as ‘the past’. No one knows what the future holds. Who would have thought Corbynite ideas would be fashionable again on the left when they once appeared totally (and rightly in my view) consigned to the dust bin of history. Its wrong becasue circumstances change in ways we can’t forsee and vain because it fails to consider that we might be wrong.

    While I think Trump is a horrible person, ignorant and vain, he is in power in large part because of opponents who thought they were the future, that they could write off those who disagreed with them as dionsaurs who would die out and failed to bother to persuade people of the rightness of their ideas, instead trying to define people who aren’t signed up to fairly recent ideas as bad people.

    The trouble with the anti Trump rallies is that they empower thsoe who think they hold the monoploy of virtue to be ever more extreme and the great mass of people who don’t much care for Trump but neither much care for the most vocal protesters will see it as unfair to the President. Trump won the election using political judo, turning is opponents rage against them. Think before you give him more ammunition.

    1. You’re right, positioning yourself as the future isn’t always a good idea, but there are two meanings here where it specifically applies. First, there is no future in which racism and misogyny become good ideas again. The decline of those attitudes are a long term trend in society that Trump is holding up, but he won’t stop them. Trump is the past because he champions views that society has left behind.

      Secondly, you don’t need to be a historian to know what demagoguery leads to. When other races and cultures are portrayed as vermin, human rights abuses ensue. This is already apparent in Trump’s America: the president says that people crossing the border are ‘animals’, and next thing you know children are in cages. Trump is the past in that history is repeating itself.

      As for your last paragraph, it has to be possible to stand up to injustice without being accused of virtue signalling, and I see no reason why that would lead to extremism from anyone. As someone who was there, the tone of the march was friendly, not angry. There were families marching together, lots of Americans and latin Americans. People were having a lot of fun with it. The most extreme element I saw was the Socialist Worker’s Party, who reliably turn up to any march going.

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