In any other circumstances, of course, I’d be setting off for Hyde Park to join today’s protest over what’s happening in America. Unfortunately Corronavirus still makes using public transport too risky for the likes of me, but I nonetheless want to express my full solidarity with everyone up there today. Of course racism is not just an american problem, but I think we should all be very worried indeed about what is now unfolding there: frustrations built up over decades – even centuries – of prejudice and oppression seem to have reached boiling point; but rather than taking the pot off the flames, the only person in a position to calm things down actively adds fuel to the fire.
Most of the news reports I’ve seen say that these protests are largely peaceful, but by ordering in the national Guard, it’s as if Trump actually wants them to grow violent, or at least appear violent for the TV cameras. By portraying them as looters and anarchists, he can dismiss the protesters’ very legitimate grievances while presenting himself as the good guy trying to combat domestic terrorism. In doing so, Trump obviously only exacerbates the problem: not only does he refuse to listen to the protesters, he tries to warp the situation to suit his own interests. We only need to look at how he had the crowds cleared with teargas so he could pose in front of a church to see how shallow this stupid little man is. In doing so, trump makes the situation much worse; his actions, speeches and tweets make people even angrier, so the situation becomes far worse.
In fact I’d go as far as to say that Trump IS the problem here, or at least a large part of it. Of course, you can’t blame one man for decades of institutionalised racism, no matter how much of an embarrassment to humanity he is. But the poisonous mixture of arrogance and moronic ignorance we see him displaying points to something deeply ingrained in parts of affluent american society: something almost Victorian in it’s conservative refusal to concede that anyone else might have a valid point of view. The type of view which demands that one is always right and that everyone else should know their place, and which refuses to engage with any form of culture other than their own. The rich are wealthy because they deserve to be, and everyone else is just lazy. It’s a viewpoint which seems to be an inherent aspect of the American mindset, and which Donald Trump epitomises down to his toes. A mindset which has lead to decades of police brutality against black people, and which absolutely refuses to do anything about the gross inequalities which lead to the current situation. That mindset is the problem, but because it is so engrained into their current president, so eager to play at being a strongman rather than engaging with the issues which lead to this point, the situation there is now very dangerous indeed. Surely the first step towards cooling things down and healing the divisions would be to remove Trump from office and replace him with someone who understands the value of reconciliation.