First published by the Independent, 1st February 2017
Despite White House staff making preparations on the ground in Milwaukee, a source has told CNN that the Harley-Davidson factory President Donald Trump had planned to visit on Thursday is no longer comfortable hosting him amid planned protests.
The director of Harley-Davidson’s corporate communication, Maripat Blankenheim, said “we look forward to hosting the president in the future”, while denying that a visit had ever been on the cards.
If the report is true, and a company has been forced to cancel a visit from the President, then it must be clear to the scoffers and the naysayers that our protests are having a real impact.
On Good Morning Britain, journalist Owen Jones faced off against MP Philip Davies, a truly compassionate chap who tried to derail legislation protecting women against violence, and beloved presenter Piers Morgan, a sort of Poundland version of Bill O’Reilly.
Davies described the recent country-wide protests against both the #MuslimBan and Trump’s state visit to Britain as “pointless” and “bizarre”. I’d wager they’re nowhere near as bizarre as filibustering in Parliament for 93 minutes to stop carers being allowed free hospital parking. Piers Morgan made a comment about the “endless hysteria” of those protesting against Trump’s policies, although I’m not sure “endless” is the right word as Trump has only been president since 20 January.
The ability to protest peacefully is a hard-earned democratic right. It is an essential part of a functioning and healthy democracy. Privileged MPs and smug TV personalities do the people of Britain a great disservice when they dismiss protest in this manner.
Trump is a dangerous man. He’s the most powerful person in the world and he acts on impulse, raving and blaming and banning. He has resurrected Ronald Reagan’s Global Gag Rule, jeopardising the health of the world’s most vulnerable women. He has banned citizens from a number of Muslim-majority states from entering the US, a racist, Islamophobic move that has been described by both Democrats and Republicans as counterproductive to combating terrorism.
We may feel helpless in the face of this stomach-churning spectacle, but there are peaceful means of protest available to us all. Whether you’re strapped for time, unable to attend marches due to disability or simply not very good in crowds, there are different avenues to explore. You can pledge support to those penalised by Trump’s administration by signing petitions, organising fundraising events, explaining the situation to friends and family members, and by boycotting businesses that support Trump or were complicit in his election.
We should be proud that so many people in Britain have given up their time to march, to paint signs and to stand in solidarity with those all over the world who have been affected by Trump’s ill-conceived and vindictive policies.
Peaceful protests show our representatives and law-makers that we’re not torpid dimwits, too busy scanning the sidebar of shame or watching reality TV (the beast that spawned Trump) to notice what’s going on in our world. Theresa May has already demonstrated her disinterest in standing up to the orange bully. It is up to Britain’s ordinary citizens, every one of whom has the tool of protest at their disposal.