After a few months of avoiding the news, Twitter and Facebook, even ditching my iPhone, I've been drawn back in by recent events. I find myself obsessively checking my favourite news channels late into the night and as soon as I wake. These feel like scary and dangerous times, and my brain wants answers. But nothing I'm looking at gives me those answers; I'm just bombarded with even more questions and uncertainty.
I went on an anti-Trump march in Brighton last night. As I walked towards the crowds, I felt like there was some power in what we were doing. I felt like I was marching against the past few years of right wing rule, the Tories, Brexit and now Trump.
That feeling of power, like we'd achieved something continued for a little bit, but this morning I feel deflated. I read this piece by Jake Fuentes, The Immigration Ban is a Headfake, and We're Falling For it.
"When I read about the incredibly active first week of the Trump administration, I struggle with two competing narratives about what’s really going on. The first story is simple: the administration is just doing what it said it would do, literally keeping its campaign promises. Lots of people won’t agree, but it’s playing to its base. They’re also not really good at this whole government thing yet, so implementation is shaky. The second is more sinister: the administration is deliberately testing the limits of governmental checks and balances to set up a self-serving, dangerous consolidation of power."
It's well worth a read not just because I think it encapsulates some of how I've been feeling about the past few years of politics. It's worth reading because it hints at what might be going on in the background, and we all need to be aware of those possibilities. They could have much wider implications than the news of the past few days.
This is the bit that really rattled my cage.
"First, stop believing that protests alone do much good. Protests galvanize groups and display strong opposition, but they’re not sufficient. Not only are they relatively ineffective at changing policy, they’re also falsely cathartic to those protesting. Protestors get all kinds of feel-good that they’re among fellow believers and standing up for what’s right, and they go home feeling like they’ve done their part. Even if protestors gain mild, symbolic concessions, the fact that their anger has an outlet is useful to the other side. Do protest, but be very wary of going home feeling like you’ve done your job. You haven’t."
I don't completely agree with this statement, but it certainly made me think, so what else can I do? I will continue to go to protests because I do think they send a message not just to politicians, but to all those people being persecuted by Trump. But I need to do more than march and look in my black mirror.
I know a bunch of clever artists, photographers, musicians, designers and good thinkers. Maybe we should get together and come up with some ideas. Next Atoms Collide maybe? Leave a comment if you are interested.