May, the force is against you.
That was what I had on my placard, alongside a cartoon of Theresa May with Yoda ears, for the Downing Street protest last night.
From that fact alone you might think that I’m an avid political activist but, and shamefully I say this, I am not. I very rarely get involved in politics; I’m a “passive protestor”, as my brother put it. Yet I woke up two days ago scrolled through my Facebook feed and just couldn’t really digest the news that I was reading.
“Trump signs Executive Order: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States” [USA Today]
“Donald Trump signs executive order to ban refugees and all visitors from Muslim-majority countries” [The Independent]
“Trump’s latest executive order: Banning people from 7 countries and more”[CNN]
“May and Trump reaffirm the ‘great bond’ between Britain and America” [Business Insider Australia]
“Trump hands May promise of ‘stronger’ special relationship” [Financial Times]
My reaction: huh? What the f***.
Suddenly I got this dizzying feeling and I couldn’t quite stomach the news. Thing is this was no longer about politics, policy or law (I mean, of course it’s always about politics, policy and law) but this was something even bigger. This was about human decency. To me, it was an ominous sign of societal moral degradation and that freaked the f*** out of me.
I saw on Facebook an emergency protest on Trump’s so called “Muslim ban” (slight misnomer, I concede), being organised in London for a Monday evening. I thought to myself reasons why I couldn’t go: I have uni tomorrow morning and I just got back from Switzerland so I need to do some work! Besides, none of my friends are going and it would be dangerous to go alone. So I had decided that I would support the cause “in spirit”, like many others were doing that night.
But then I saw posts online about lawyers in the U.S. using their free time to offer pro bono legal advice to detainees and I felt both unbridled pride, and unbearable shame. I thought to myself, one day I will wake up and history might be taught about the oppression and injustice that was carried out in the year 2017. I am 21 years old, what am I doing about this all. I don’t want to wake up one day, look back on all this injustice and think that I stood idly by. I may not be a qualified solicitor yet, nor even a fee-earning individual, I am no politician, nor am I particularly experienced as a protestor, but I am a human, and this matters.
We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. – Elie Wiesel
It was then, while I was sitting in front of my laptop, getting more and more angry every news story I read, that I decided to f*** it. I ran upstairs and grabbed my very primitive art materials and created 2 double sided placards –
And I went! In the end I found a friend to go with, and so I went and we held my signs proudly and marched along with what felt like thousands of other peaceful protestors from Westminster station to Downing Street. There were children on adults’ shoulders who were actively chanting and bringing morale up. Children as young as 5 or 6 held placards and were as angry as the rest of us. This was something so basic that even children understood – this was a divisive act on Trump’s part and this was a cowardly indifference on May’s part. And this was where we drew the line: human decency.
When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty. – Thomas Jefferson
The world is getting ill and I will no longer stay silent. Do something. Do anything.