It feels like about eight years ago now, given the outrages since, but last week Donald Trump flew in, was rude to everyone, indulged in a bit of white supremacy, played golf for the 121st time since he barged into the White House, and fucked off to his Russian handler to dabble in a bit of light treason. All pretty standard for him. But this time he was met with a bit of resistance.
A whole bunch of people took to the streets to protest his visit, his racism, his fascism, his corruption and his combover. Organisers in London expected about 50,000 Trump-haters, or “decent human beings”. We had 250,000. The crowd was so big, the people at the front reached the end before those of us at the back had set off. We lined the whole mile-long route.
It was a coalition of decency. Environmentalists from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth marched with feminists, socialists, trans rights activists, pro-Palestinian activists, Labour, Green and Lib Dem members and miscellaneous good people. There was a togetherness I’ve not felt much since Trump triumphed and Brexit ballsed everything up. When I told my Uber guy where I was heading he said I was an instant five starrer. On the underground people asked to take photos of our signs. When mine broke, two guys at a hardware store got out gaffer tape, a drill and spare bit of wood like they were in a placard A&E. And we were joined by thousands more gathering across the country and for two days afterwards. It was amazing.
But you’ll notice the asshole’s still in office, a continuing outrage to make you wonder if there was any point to the whole thing. I think it did a few things worth doing. It sent a message: to Trump, who put off his first trip, dodged us on this one and said he felt unwelcome in London; to other fascists, racists and assorted miscreants excited by his rise, who know they’ll be met with resistance; and to other anti-Trumps, who left Twitter to come together and see the strength in our numbers. And it sent all of these messages worldwide, making the news not just in the UK and America but across Europe and elsewhere.
This could be productive, if we keep it up. If he meets this resistance every time he travels (and he got another round in Helsinki and on his return to the US), if we make the world hostile to the people who want to make it hostile to others, if we piss off the right people, the far-right people, the Reich people, if Democrats smash the midterms, the message we’ll send to him, to his enablers, and to ourselves, is that this will end.
You know what it did? It gave us hope.
Photo credit: The Zero/Lucasfilm. I forget which is which.