Trump’s UK visit and the power of protest

Donald Trump

Simon Jenkins’ decrying of anti-Trump and other demonstrations displays a surprisingly simplistic understanding of the politics of protest (To rage against Trump’s visit is simply childish, 27 April). His scattergun disdain appears to condemn as meaningless any mass objection that cannot result in the instantaneous withering of the intended political target. Presumably the actions of the thousands who risked and lost their lives in Tiananmen Square in 1989, for example, would be understood as a monument to childish futility in the world of mathematically harmonious political symmetry that Jenkins’ activism requires, for “unless there are consequential gains to such action, it is mere self-indulgence”.

His reference to Ceauşescu, Mugabe and Mobutu as precedents for tolerating Trump’s state visit is equally mystifying. It could at least be argued (however weakly) that in their invitation lay the desperate hope of some leverage to be ventured against murderous tyrants otherwise immune to moral shaming, economic sanction or political threats. By contrast, it is precisely because the US shares with us the same moral universe and democratic principles that anti-Trump protests represent a powerful rejection of his traducing of those shared values. Offering such painful truths from within this so-called special relationship can be easily understood on both sides of the Atlantic as entirely legitimate objections to the man, not the office. It might also offer welcome evidence of solidarity, to the millions of US citizens who feel aggrieved by their contemptuous, megalomaniac representative – but presumably that’s too childish a gesture.
Paul McGilchrist
Colchester, Essex

• I am sure Simon Jenkins regards himself as a voice of reason, and he is undoubtedly blessed with considerable intellect. Curious, then, that he writes “If there is a…

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