Why Protest Matters: By A Protester

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A pussy-grabber is President of the free world, the UK is obsessed with an Article 50 which nobody knew existed in 2015 and Harambe is dead. The internet joked that 2016 was the worst year in a long time. The UK voting for Brexit and Donald Trump becoming the President of the US, alongside other events such as the deaths of many highly respected celebrities caused people to jump to this assumption. And of course, doing what the internet does best, the memes that came with these events were pretty hilarious.

Following all of Trump’s controversial orders came huge criticism from around the world, with claims that this was the racist act of a fascist. The Supreme Court managed to block the ban on grounds that it was illegal, leading to fury from Trump, however the issue still remains. Prejudice, discrimination and hatred have made their way into the highest office in the world.

Theresa May quickly became thrown into a controversy of her own as she refused to condemn Trump’s travel ban, even after the UN and Supreme Court deemed it illegal. Her complicity and refusal to speak out against the ban became too obvious to ignore and so on January 30th, up and down the country, thousands took to the streets to protest – their message: “YOU may be turning a blind eye to discrimination, suffering and illegal human rights abuses across the pond, Theresa, but the British public are not”. I was lucky enough to attend the protest at Downing Street and stand in solidarity with those who believed, like me, enough was enough.

Aside from the sheer size of the crowd, the diversity of those involved was also striking. Old men and women waved banners in support of refugees alongside Muslims and Christians who stood hand-in-hand with LGBT+ protesters. Between the constant chants of  “shame on May!”, “FUCK MIKE PENCE!” and “Trump’s hands are way too small, how is he going to build a wall?!” there were prominent speakers from Ed Miliband and Owen Jones, to Lily Allen and British-Iranian comedian Shappi Khorsandi. At risk of sounding extremely corny, it was genuinely beautiful to see so many come out in protest at the injustice we were seeing across the pond, and the refusal of these people to sit back whilst our government quietly complied.

But, there were those who disagreed: the alt-right; the emerging ideology which condemns refugees as terrorists and aims to put “America first” or “Britain first”. People like Farage and Hopkins will always be vehemently opposed to the work of the left and fiercely critical of anybody who attempts to promote equality through demonstration. Although disappointing, those opinions will never change, and although they may scream that they have the right to free speech from the rooftop, any demonstration which goes against their ideological view will be criticised for expressing the right which they so passionately defend.

And so, why do we protest? Donald Trump is not going to repeal his executive order just because a few thousand people descended on Downing Street to express their anger. What will we change?

There was a small victory when we saw the order blocked by the Supreme Court, but we are living in an age where discrimination is at an all time high. The fact that protests have become so widespread against Trump and the rising alt-right prejudices shows that as a nation, and as one human race, there is still a large percentage of us who will not back down in the face of adversity. When we become quiet, it means they have won. Maybe the protests won’t do anything to stop Trump and May pushing through orders which infringe on the rights of refugees, LGBT+ people, women and other minority groups, however we can show that, by opposing May and Trump, those groups are not alone. We will stand together as one as the political landscape shifts dangerously towards hatred and fascism and show we are not done fighting. Not yet.

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International Relations student from Yorkshire; accent so strong it won Olympic weightlifting gold

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