Donald Trump is deeply unpopular in many countries outside of the United States—but perhaps nowhere more so than in Scotland.
Trump’s own mother Mary Anne hails from Tong, a small village on the island of Lewis in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, but he has stoked the ire of Scots for years, after his purchase of the historical Turnberry golf course and the contentious development of another course in Aberdeenshire. After meeting British prime minister Theresa May in England on July 12 and Queen Elizabeth on July 13, he’s expected to be in Scotland over the weekend, where protestors have been giddily planning marches and demonstrations for months.
Trump will go directly to Turnberry, his resort on the southwest coast, which he called a “magical place” in remarks to reporters. “I think that those people, they like me a lot, and they agree with me on immigration,” Trump said of the Scots, adding “I think that’s why you have Brexit in the first place, because of immigration.”
Scotland’s citizens voted against exiting the European Union, however, and Trump will almost certainly be met with big crowds who don’t like him even a little.
“The president of the United States of America will regretfully have the red carpet rolled out for him by this Conservative government,” said Ian Blackford, the Westminster leader of the Scottish National Party. ”But from the public, the welcome will be far from warm.”
Dozens of groups from human rights activists to trade unions to Blackford’s own party are participating in the protests. In Edinburgh, thousands of demonstrators are expected to march Saturday (July 14) from the Scottish Parliament building to The Meadows, a tree-fringed expanse of grass in the center of town. There, they’ll play games like “Throw the welly at Trump” (tossing a calf-high rubber boot at a cardboard cut-out) and listen to a musical lineup that includes Fistymuffs and the Farting Suffragettes. The six-meter (18-foot) blimp of a cartoon baby Trump in a diaper, which is due to fly over London’s Parliament Square July 13, may be there as well. Protestors are also planning to gather in Glasgow and Dundee on Friday night (July 13) and at Trump’s resorts.
While the carnival mood is lighthearted, the reason for the demonstrations is deadly serious. Organizers say Trump’s tirades against immigrants and minorities are racist and inhumane, and are inspiring equally abhorrent behavior in the rest of the world. “There’s only so much of his fascist politics you can sit and listen to” before you do something, said Kirsty Haigh, 24, an activist with Scotland United Against Trump, which is organizing the protests. “Some people think that’s quite an extreme way of describing it… but we have to not beat around the bush.”
The protestors are also fighting against the empowering effect they say Trump’s rhetoric is having on racists in the UK. Since the 2016 election there’s been a White Pride march in Edinburgh in March of 2017, and more recently a violent demonstration for a convicted criminal that included Nazi salutes in London.
Scots have battled with Trump for years over his construction of a golf course on protected sand dunes in Aberdeenshire, and his failed attempts to block an offshore wind farm. After he talked about banning Muslims on the campaign trail, he was stripped of an honorary Scottish degree from Robert Gordon University. Making Scots more angry, his other golf course, Turnberry, this year banned Irn-Bru, an iconic local neon-colored drink, because it stains the carpets.
Trump’s mother, one of ten children, likely grew up in a “narrow ‘black house’—so-called because of the soot that coated the thick stone walls,” historians told Politico. She had an impoverished childhood, but her fortunes changed when she settled in the United States—likely via the “chain migration” Trump has railed against—and married his father, the son of a German immigrant. During a 2008 visit to his ancestral home, Trump spent just 97 seconds inside, but he’s often boasted about his Scottish heritage and love for the country in public.
Scotland police turned down a request to fly the baby Trump blimp over Turnberry while Trump plays there on Saturday, citing security, but protestors are already amassing outside.
At his course in Aberdeenshire, Trump will probably be greeted by the Mexican flag a disgruntled neighbor has been flying since 2016. The course was built around the neighbor’s home after he refused to sell.