“F**k you Donald Trump! F**k you Donald Trump!”
Now not for one moment do I support or endorse any of Trump’s policies and ideals (if they can be so called) and nor do I seek to belittle the efforts of those looking to fight against them. But witnessing pictures and videos from across the country really made me wonder what the message was that people were trying to get across. I’m sure I’ll garner some criticisms for this post (fortunately no one reads them anyway) but having witnessed anti-Trump protests not just in my own city but elsewhere across the UK I felt somewhat embarrassed for those taking part. The point of this post is to try and think of a better way of spreading the message without the need for lowering the tone of the discussion.
To me, no one captured the art of protest quite like civil rights giants Dr Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, their work being something I’ve studied intensely and written on in the past. What resonates so strongly with me was both men’s ability to connect with the uneducated, the downtrodden, the angry in a way that was passionate, somewhat fierce, and yet somehow so very eloquent. Whether it be Martin Luther King’s epic vision, “I have a Dream” or Malcolm X’s fiery forewarning of “the Ballot or the Bullet”, both men found effective ways of spreading their respective messages in a way that could be understood by all. There was no need for gimmicks, cheap puns on cardboard signs, satirical memes or any media of that ilk. We need to have some intelligence to our protests.
I fear that we have seen the last of the great speakers, the brilliant minds, as the world has become obsessed with the phenomenon of social media. Whilst I myself enjoy the use of social media I do fear it is, as many describe it, an echo chamber. The complex analytics of Facebook and Twitter show us what we want to see, information on our interests and likes, as such we see a very one-sided picture. The views we share and write about on social media are bounced back to us by analytics seeking to make our news feeds more appealing to us. Last year I attended a lecture given by Robert Marshall-Andrews QC, a former Labour MP, in a Q&A at the end of the talk he described social media as being an awful development for democracy for this very reason. Whilst I’d contest it presents us with a great platform to voice our opinions on all matters, I completely see where he was coming from. Through our news feeds and timelines we follow those of similar opinions or opinions that interest us, as a result we are only presented with views identical or similar to our own, we do not get the whole picture.
This may seem to deviate from the issue of why “f**cking Trump” is wrong but it brings me to my point. I feel we now live in a society where the great issues of our time generate such short lived bursts of online outcry with little real result. How many people did nothing more than change their profile picture when there were shootings in Paris? How many people condemned lorry attacks in Berlin and Nice on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram but have long since forgotten? In my opinion social media has given birth to, in some but not all cases, a dangerous breed of vanity. Every Tom, Dick and Harry becomes a poet, writing long passionate eulogies condemning violence and hate or change their profile pictures to show solidarity. However, once the last few “likes” have trickled in, people happily go back to their lives with little thought to what is going on in the world. Some people just want to stamp their own marks on a tragedy. If everyone who did this went out the next day and sought to make a proactive difference through charity work or volunteering schemes and really strove to do something positive think of how much we would achieve. In my opinion, most of the actions that make a difference aren’t the ones that can be documented on Facebook or Twitter but are the ones you make when you close your laptop down and go out and do something!
So finally, why is “F**k Trump!” wrong?
Years from now are we going to remember when crowds gathered to chant “F**k you Donald Trump”? (or even as I’ve seen people so majestically chanting “I wanna knowww why you’re such a c***!”)
We need more leaders, leaders who can generate a lasting message, not a meme or viral video that disappears from social media within a month. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, among so many others, managed to spread lasting messages of love and unity without platforms such as social media. We need people to lead from the front, by example for us all to see, not overnight warriors of social justice you find on your news feed. Unfortunately I can’t provide much of a solution to this, I understand it is easy to sit by and cry out for a charismatic saviour to pull out his/her soapbox and preach to the masses. Looking to politicians is no longer the answer and nor should it be, anyone should be able to lead, promote and discuss the problems at hand. I think that realising this would inspire a lot more “ordinary” people to make a difference not only at grassroots level but higher. Provided someone can capture audiences with their message they shouldn’t be held back by the fact they’re not a politician or a celebrity.
However, there is something we can all do. Let’s not lower the tone of the discussion, Do we really think Donald Trump is going to be phased by insults and football terrace chants? The man trades in them. This struggle against growing right wing populism isn’t going to be won by chanting banal abuse and spending hours drawing gimmicky placards, but by promoting an educated debate that we can all involve ourselves in. To do this we need to take a genuine interest, learning, reading, researching the matters we are promoting so that we can all offer something worthwhile to the discussion. By coupling a sound comprehension of what is going on in our world with the actual desire to work hard in making a difference then there is a hope for us yet. This applies not only to Trump’s America but to all the issues we face today, the time has come to stop looking like we care, but to get off our asses and do something about it. Only then will we become the knights in shining armour we see ourselves to be.
“You don’t have to be a man to fight for freedom. All you have to do is to be an intelligent human being.”