As the anti-Trump mood finds a global audience, Getintothis’ Joseph Viney sees a chink of light in the unifying power of protest – it can be an effective tool to create a better world.
You don’t need to wander far to see or hear the detractors of worldwide protests against the actions of President Trump.
You can already see Twitter user @mR_bReXiT_69 pounding away at his keyboard, typing with red-faced indignation like some unabashed Daily Male; digital mouth frothing with digital foam.
“You’re too far away!!! Enjoy your safe space!!! SNOWFLAKE!!!” followed by those incredibly aggravating cry-laugh emojis, he – it’s always a he – will no doubt offer, smiling crudely to himself as he scratches his oversized arse and clicks play on another episode of his bingewatch of the unutterably bad The Grand Tour.
As per usual, what these Liddle-lites miss is the wider context of proceedings. They also don’t understand irony; shouting at people doing things they don’t like for shouting at people doing things they don’t like. It’s a crazy would out there.
People like @mR_bReXiT_69 seem to take an immense amount of ghoulish pleasure from things going wrong, things becoming worse and people being left voiceless and confused. They revel in hopelessness, draw strength from sadness and bask in bastardry.
Trump – whose very existence is disagreeable enough to mobilise large parts of the globe against him – is very much cut from the same cloth as Brexit Man: belligerent, shouty, simmering with Small Man Syndrome and replete with blood vessels that look like they could go supernova at any time.
The mass organised protests against President Trump – his administration, his travel ban on citizens of seven different nations, the rolling back of legislation that entitled millions of Americans to affordable health care, rescinding legislation of background checks for all gun purchasers and so on – cannot be ignored or willed away by social media cynicism.
This is an age wherein Actual Literal Fascists (remember those? Pro-eugenics, pro-white supremacy, anti-anything that involves care and consideration) can air their views free of charge and free of thought. For many, it’s not about joining a ‘Resistance’ helmed by Hollywood actors and cossetted Silicon Valley nerds, it’s a fightback. In some cases, it might be a fight for their lives.
It cannot be ignored that a city like Liverpool – a speck in the grander scheme of things – can drag four figures’ worth of people to congregate outside St George’s Hall on the coldest Monday night since the Monday before that. Liverpool has never needed too much of a reason to protest, scrap and generally push back against authority, and our flaxen-haired friend across the Atlantic provides more than enough justification.
The city is far away across the sea from the tumult. Some would argue that Britain is safe from the President’s banal evil, given how quickly our unelected Prime Minister crawled up his backside in front of the world’s media. Again, it’s the wider context: those here in front of one of Liverpool’s grandest buildings are here to espouse their fears about a Western reality unspooling faster than the insides of an old and battered Celebrity Apprentice VHS. Presumably the series with Piers Morgan on it.
In Liverpool – in scenes echoed across the country, continent and globe – speakers highlighted the dangers they believed the President is capable of expanding upon. They spoke of Trump’s pledge to build the much-vaunted Wall along the length of the US-Mexico border. They spoke of his outbursts – even when on the campaign trail – against Muslim people, their traditions and their beliefs.
They spoke of his misogynistic character fuelled by rumour, accusation and secret recordings. They warned of the danger of an incredibly gaffe-prone man having the keys to the family car; a sporty little red number. Much like Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Trump will also probably watch the expensive machinery go clattering over the edge, helpless and perspiring.
As sure as night follows day – and outrage follows an Executive Order – questions are asked about not only the effectiveness of foreign protest, but their right to exist at all.
“Oh, you’ll protest the US President, huh?” the detractors will fire off. “…but you don’t care about issues in your own country”.
“Where were you when THIS happened, eh?” you’ll be asked, questioned at figurative gunpoint about every protest and issue that has come before this. Points will be deducted for non-compliance to an ever-shifting set of rules and regulations. Like life itself – hey, like politics! – everybody knows the game is rigged.
The protests against President Donald Trump – it still feels weird to say it – should not come with caveats. People – seasoned protestors, newcomers or day trippers – don’t need loyalty cards to prove their worth to a mob who have no interest in debate; just irritation and insults.
For better or worse, what happens to and with the United States will always affect us in Britain, Europe and everywhere else. Refugees, migrants and other categories may bounce off the closed US border and scatter around the globe. Trump’s isolationist, industry-led zeal to “Make America Great Again” may harm the import and export markets of a country like Britain already staring down the business end of a Brexit barrel.
Questions of morality surround Trump’s cabinet picks. The malign influence of Steve Bannon – soon to be America’s Rasputin – coupled with former execs of Goldman Sachs, the staggering ineptitude of Betsy DeVos and the spineless acquiescence of the Republican Party rank-and-file to Trump and his creeping, ivy-like power base.
This is why you saw so many people in Liverpool, London, Paris, Milan, Peckham, Chicago, New York, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and all over pushing and pulling and screaming and shouting: the total submission to Trump and his own brand of inexperience and brinkmanship has finally lifted the veil for some people. The truth is that the majority of those in power – or who purport to wield it – are clueless sociopaths who fold faster than light when challenged by Trump’s playground bully persona.
The people have a right to express their pain, anguish and fear. The cynics who chide those in attendance for not caring in the past once again miss the bigger picture: fires are started by the smallest of sparks. With nurture, cultivation, energy and a little luck, we may see big numbers fighting the not-so-stealthy privatisation of the NHS, turning the page on library closures, fighting for fair living and working conditions in a world that is leaving more and more people behind.
In a good timeline, Trump may be the catalyst for a better world via the actions taken against him. If the irony of that outcome doesn’t tickle your fancy then you may have accepted defeat already. Protest is always an effective tool. Shout, sing and scream your way to whatever victory you want to create. Oh, and if you see that Richard Spencer, give him another dig from all of us.