What do you think of the protests that are growing across the United States after Donald Trump’s election?
I have mixed feelings.
A couple of dozen young people marched back and forth through downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday evening shouting “Love Not Hate!” and “No Human Being Is Illegal!” and “Black Lives Matter!” and similar anti-Trump inspired slogans. They didn’t hand out flyers or interact with other people at all, though I cheered for them.
Meanwhile some people my age looked on and made scornful condescending comments to the effect that the election was over and these fools should get over it. And one drunk guy, restrained by his wife or girlfriend, announced that “Black lives aren’t worth s—!”
My response is different, if perhaps equally cynical. I’d like all the fools not marching and rallying to recognize that the dream of self-governance is over and to get over it. I’d like everyone to have gotten over it last month or last year or last decade.
I love that people march around shouting “Love Not Hate!” And the fact that anyone would object to that statement of preference ought to deeply disturb the most apathetic voter/consumer/spectator. In fact I’ve just helped set up a petition that reads: “We will not stand by as hatred and violence are promoted by our president-elect. Racism and bigotry at home have been fueled by U.S. wars abroad, but also make more such wars easier. We commit to nonviolently resisting hateful attacks on our fellow human beings wherever they live.”
I also love and am practicing the new trend of wearing a safety pin to indicate that one is a safe and caring person to anyone who might be worried about any variety of bigotry.
But here’s where I get a bit cynical. Hillary Clinton told a room full of Goldman Sachs bankers that creating a no fly zone in Syria would require killing lots of Syrians. And she told the public she wanted to create that no fly zone. And if she had been declared the winner of the election, I can guarantee you that nobody would have been marching up and down my street yelling “Love Not Hate.”
So, I worry that even those who value kindness to others value it only for the 4% of humanity in the United States but not so much for the other 96%, or value it only as directed by the less hateful of the two big political parties.
Mayors of several big cities, like New York and Seattle, have declared they won’t cooperate with Trump’s promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and anti-deportation networks begin to appear. What can be done to reinforce this resistance to racism and discrimination and protect anyone (immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ people, women etc) who could be persecuted by the new administration?
This is encouraging, even if I have the same mixed feelings regarding partisanship. We also need media outlets. Some top television news readers and corporate owners have openly said that they think Trump is bad for the world but good for ratings.
We also need to figure out the best ways for non-Muslims to be supportive of Muslims. When I’ve proposed that we all register as Muslims in order to overload the system, Muslims have claimed I was insulting their religion — which was, of course, not my intent.
Offering sanctuary, protesting abuse, building alliances: we need to be very public and very clear about this.
Do you think this shocking situation could help the growth of a real progressive movement?
Yes, it already has. Which of course and extremely obviously but it must be said: does NOT mean one would have chosen this voluntarily. But now that we have it, there are silver linings. The people of Vicenza and of Napoli and of Sardegna and Sicilia and Roma and Aviano should understand that US bases and NATO bases are Donald Trump spitting in your face. Evict those bases for your self respect and for the good of us all! Here in the U.S. big plans have been in the works since the day after the election for a peace movement unseen in 8 years.