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Protest against what Donald Trump represents, not who he is

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The mass protests must be as much about Trumpism as against the US president himself as he lands in Britain today. One of the dangers since Donald Trump became president is that it becomes all about him – his attention-seeking theatrics, his latest social media grenades thrown into cyberspace. Some of the establishment opposition has focused on Trump’s vulgarity, his manners, that he is somehow unpresidential, rather than his political substance and what he represents. As Naomi Klein explained in her book No Is Not Enough, the Trump performance becomes a distraction from scrutinising the dangerous political forces and economic interests he represents.

That Trump is somehow sullying an office previously held by respectable men of good character is a lie in any case. A succession of presidents have unleashed horror on the world in the last 50 years: backing or orchestrating bloody foreign coups; the slaughter in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia; the US-backed death squads in Central America whose victims ranged from nuns to leftists; the killing fields of Iraq; the destruction of Libya; the indiscriminate drone strikes.

“Whataboutery” is often deployed at those protesting against Trump: why not Turkey’s tyrannical president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, or the Saudi dictatorship? As someone who has protested against both, I agree, although those who pursue this line of argument are notably absent when it comes to marching against any foreign despot. But the actions and beliefs of arguably the most powerful man on Earth have the greatest impact on us all. And that also helps distinguish Trump from the........

© The Guardian