It’s quarter to eight on Friday night as I write this. I’ve had a couple of beers, my mindset is warped, but I’m feeling honest. So let’s talk.
Berlin, I love you. You have made me extremely happy on many occasions, you have helped me develop as a person, you have broadened my horizons. I love you, I really do, and I have sacrificed a hell of a lot to be living here – my family, my friends, even the girl I love. I’ve suffered in order to be here, because Berlin had a spark, a twinkle in its eye, something I couldn’t quite articulate but which I believed in fiercely. Tonight though, I’ve been let down.
That fat orange racist Trump has been made president today, a ceremony which I have vigilantly avoided all word of for fear that I might implode with rage. Fuck giving that bullfrog throated bigot any more trophies to add to the bulging cabinet inside his dense skull. Every value I stand for is being threatened, I am angry beyond words. It’s an inarticulate anger, the kind of fury that makes you want to just run outside and do something, the same pent up rage that led to the London riots in 2011, fuck everything, just throw a fucking brick, because nothing makes sense and everything is wrong and life isn’t fair. This isn’t meant to happen. I feel absolutely powerless against the giant grinding flotilla of male insecurity and thinly veiled sexual anxiety that drives Donald and his Trumpeteers.
Yeah, sure, I get it, Trump voters are not all bad – some of them just want a better life. Cool, that’s fine. But my god, pick a better fucking candidate. Pick Bernie Sanders, someone who actually gives a shit about you. Donald Trump lives in a gold tower, molests women, mocks the disabled, vilifies Muslims, wants to punish women for abortions, and wants to give tax cuts to the 1% – who is left? Who benefits in that world vision? Who is voting for him? People who have been misled, that’s who. He is a cancer, and by god, the people in DC right now should march into the White House, drag him out, and sling him into the gutter along with his vile rhetoric. If you’re reading this and you’re a Trump voter, it’s okay. I don’t hate you, I hate him, and what he is doing to the world we live in.
Tonight I went down to the Brandenburg Gate by myself, Dave was meant to join but he was ill, and so alone I flew down after work. In fact, I started work at 8am instead of 9 so that I could finish at 5 instead of 6 and would get there on time. I arrived at 5.30, and the march wasn’t due to arrive before 6. I took a seat on a bench near the Gate and the Reichstag, and sat and thought about the past, about the future, about everyone who had passed underneath that Gate over the years. Napoleon. Hitler. Gorbachev. Reagan. Have we learned nothing? These days I oscillate so wildly between hope and despair that it’s hard to tell which is which.
I wandered around the Gate alone, passing a few little gangs of scarf clad protesters. A few half-hearted chants rang out and died. Was this it? Is this all the defiance the world could muster in the face of a newly crowned Nazi overlord? Jesus. I needed a piss, so I passed under the Gate and into Tiergarten Park beyond. I pissed against a tree and sauntered along the path, muttering to myself in frustration. Where was everyone? Does nobody care?
I felt shit. I took a seat in the dark of the trees in the park so I could finish a beer without being prodded by the police. As I was sat staring at the dirty snow around my feet, I heard drums in the distance, deep and pounding. I ignored it at first, thinking it’d just be another Turkish wedding procession, along with all the usual horn honking and BMWS. The drumming continued, however. I stood up and followed the sound. I could make out shapes through the trees. I walked further, and they became clearer. Down the road ahead of me were glittering lights, blue and white, police and protest, moving towards me. A smile dawned across my face, and I ditched my beer. They were here, the march, Berlin against Trump, finally. Traffic stopped, everything stopped. Around the corner came thousands, banners and winter coats and hats and gloves, singing and chanting and cheering. It made me well up.
I ran across the road and joined the crowd, and we marched together past the Holocaust Memorial, past the graves of 6 million Jews, defiant, and vowing to never, ever let it happen again. Hate will not spread in my name, ever. I’ll die before I see my neighbour dragged out of his home at midnight to have his skull measured. I’ll die before the right to love and to marry is denied to anyone, to my family, to my best friends, to my brother. There is nothing more important. All the music and chants and banners swelled my heart and I was humbled and quiet, surrounded by the hope of flying banners. We passed under the Gate.
Cameras flashed as the thousands entered the square, the victory square, the war square, that same patch of ground that over the centuries had seen bullets and muskets and knives and sabres and ten thousand deaths in the name of freedom. The torrent of the march broke through as though forced through a shower head, and dispersed across the square, mixing with those shivering activists who had arrived early. Across the square were maybe two thousand.
Speeches began in German and in English, and I did my best to cheer at every sentence. Rain began to patter on us slowly. The third speaker was a Somalian woman in a headscarf and long, colourful dress – the same woman who hosted the refugee poetry night! She spoke at length and with passion, in the same bright broken English I remember. I cheered and whooped and clapped in the rain. More speakers came, more bold sentiments. Something was missing, though.
I left the thick of the crowd and drifted to the outskirts. I passed through the police line and climbed up onto one of the pillars of the Gate. I looked over the crowd. Thin. Too thin. Maybe a thousand people, now. Where was everyone? I felt so impassioned, so on fire, I felt so angry and helpless, and I just watched. I stemmed my passions, and in cold reality I watched a few hundred people with cardboard signs standing in the rain, listening to a few lacklustre speeches from a squeaky microphone on a small stage.
Berlin, where were you? Where are the millions of bright, brilliant people? Sure, it’s Friday night – but where else have you to be? What’s more important than this – the fate of America, the fate of our cousins, the fate of our children, the fate of the world? As a tyrant takes over the world, slides his greasy oranges fingers down the skirt of a struggling Statue of Liberty, nobody, nobody can be bothered to stand up? Berlin, you let me down tonight. You have clubs and music and poetry and art and all the rest, but what the fuck does it mean if you won’t sacrifice two hours of your evening to get out and show support for human fucking rights? Christ, you damned apathetic hipsters, lay off shaping your moustache this evening, stop shopping online for black clothing and green hair dye and vinyl records and for fuck sake, stand up for something, because people are suffering now, and more people will suffer tomorrow. Personalities are built on what you stand for, not how you look and not what you fucking own.
If you are disabled, Muslim, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer, black, white, European, American, Asian, Middle Eastern, African, stand up and reject this bullshit. If you are a human fucking being, stand up and reject this, rage against it with every fibre of your being. Get up off your arse and change this, because it is not right. If humanity is doomed to war and hate and destruction, I’ll be damned if it’ll be said I didn’t do every single thing within my power to stop it. What power is that? Nothing much, but I can write this. Protest. Start a few arguments, whatever. And if we all do it? If every single righteous person who believes in hope and humanity and the promise of a better tomorrow stands up, fists clenched, cemented into history by the sheer force of will of the masses? Donald Trump is nothing. Hate doesn’t stand a chance. This is not going to happen. I won’t let it.
Fuck Donald Trump.