I’m currently sat in a Starbucks just across the way from where the ‘Manchester Demo against Trump’s #MuslimBan and the UK Complicity’ is going to take place. Am I here to protest? I’m not sure. I agree with the spirit of the protest but I’m not sure about the detail, I’m concerned that this is the ice bucket challenge of protests.
So what are my issues?
That the protest is a fad. I’ve watched the build up on-line and I h’ve seen people saying ‘Looking forward to tonight’, posting pictures of signs they made. One even questioned the black background of the main protest sign because it will use up ink (Although whoever designed it should have gone white, maybe the sign itself was a protest of some kind). It’s not really for me to question people’s motives but I’m concerned that in the future protests will be over once everyone has posted a selfie on Facebook. It occurs to me that these protests were needed when we caused wars that produced the refugees.
Donald Trump’s Muslim ban? It’s not a Muslim ban. I’m torn because like many others I believe that this is an attack on Muslims but the problem is that you have to deal in facts and the facts are that he has banned people from seven countries. Yes they are all Muslim countries but it’s still not a Muslim ban and my concern is that by incorrectly calling it that, you may have encouraged more people to turn up – but it makes it easy to dismiss. When asked about the protests Trump will simply point out that it is not a ban on Muslims and move on. If it were a protest about travel restrictions that we believe are the start of future attacks on Muslims it might not be ‘catchy’ but it would be a clear aim.
Are we being hypocrites? Many people have shared Mo Farah’s post about his situation as being born in Somalia he may not be allowed into America where he has lived for 6 years (Although I’m pretty sure with a British passport he’s fine). This is from his post. “I am a British citizen who has lived in America for the past six years – working hard, contributing to society, paying my taxes and bringing up our four children in the place they now call home. Now, me and many others like me are being told that we may not be welcome.” If you replace ‘British’ with any European country ‘America’ with Britain. You see where I am going with this? Brexit will exclude many people the same way.
The protest against Theresa May. Nothing Theresa May can say will stop Trump, her job is not to join the picket line and start re-tweeting Michael Moore. Her job is to do the best for Britain and like it or not making trade deals with America might be very important post brexit. I would also add that currently for what it’s worth she has his ear, if she speaks out she wins nothing. There will a be time in the future that we need to intervene, even if we can’t. Maybe Theresa May has full confidence that while she does what she has to do the British people will make themselves heard.
So did I march? I did but I didn’t inhale. Our ability to protest and let others protest is important and the small innocent part of my brain hopes rather than a fad, this is the start of something bigger. I watched some people take selfies and seem to leave and some people near me to suggest to each other ‘Shall we go and get food and see if it picks up later’ but I think overall most people were there for the right reasons. I marched around Manchester with them, annoying traffic and avoiding tutting policemen and the atmosphere was nice rather than angry. Mine was more a silent protest as I did not feel that I agreed with any of the chants, the main chant being “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here” It’s simply not true.
A group of 50 leading refugee charities and aid agencies has condemned the government’s record on the refugee crisis, describing the support offered by the UK as “not enough – not even close”. – The Guardian (2016)
In 1984 they yelled at the figure of hate and I think that is now Donald Trump. I’m concerned that he is going to become an easy target and a distraction from the real issues.
Guardian news story.