“Man throws brick in Liverpool, narrowly misses Trump by 4500 miles.”
I must say this daft Facebook comment I noticed made me chuckle, because it reveals a cynical truth. So far the anti-Trump demonstrations in the UK have been a gesture in solidarity with the people of America, and the upcoming ones will be a gesture for those originating in the 7 banned countries and their families. No doubt as Trumps policies begin to elongate, slither and entangle like snakes across the globe, these protests will be a different shoe, crushing their writing hissing venomer.
The cynical activist inside me will rear its snotty head and screech internally how a demonstration of even a few hundred will ever affect anything so catastrophically huge as this worldwide crackdown on movement?
The answer, I think, it challenging normalisation. For years, the paranoia about immigration, and this centralised fear around Muslims in their entirely as a threat, has dominated the conversation. The newspapers vomiting lies and lies about Muslims coming to sow terror and destruction, when really our own attitudes, laws and bombs have reaped terror and destruction. We now exist in a place where extremist ideas about deportation, border lock-down and even ethnic purging are now considered such voidable political positions the world gasps in horror when an out-and-out Nazi is punched in the face.
So the point of these demos is, for me, a case of saying to the people walking past, then people shopping, dipping into pubs, reading the papers or listening to the radio: The way the world is at the moment is not normal.
The policies of May and Trump are not normal. It is not normal to think of immigrants as cockroaches or targets or threats or statistics or even cheap labour. It is not normal to ban someone from entering a country entirely based on their religion. It is not normal for our elected representatives to leave this unchallenged in the name of some kind of absorb polite discourse.
So what’s next? OK, from an activist perspective I leave that discussion for more dedicated and tactic discussions, probably not online where ‘security’ can read my online blog.
On an individual level, we must constantly remind our family, friends and colleagues this hatred and policies are not normal.
From an artist perspective, we must constantly remind our audiences that this hatred and these policies are not normal. Open mics, poetry readings, workshops, gigs, events, slams. Even if you can’t write about the issue, if you have anything that’s about love, or unity, then introduce it proudly as about hope and unity.
And that way, whenever someone agrees with a Trump/May policy, whenever some spouts this hatred, discrimination, fear tinged with the venom of the Great American Snake, it can be challenged as not normal.
In inches, they try and shift the world in what is normal. Capitalism is normal, racism is normal. One day, Trump might be normal. I know it sounds difficult to believe, with his cartoonish persona like the villain of a show who uses his money to zap the heroes with laser beams. But it’s true, already the argument is shifting to how his attitude is ‘reasonable’.
The world is not normal, and the more we shrug it off and go about our lives the more we slip into another world. A world not unlike 1984 or Brave New World. Which are, and will remain, non-fiction.