Sunday, February 05, 2017

11.2 - Celebrating resistance

Celebrating resistance

To celebrate resistance, let's start at the obvious place or rather time: January 21. The day of what may well have been the largest day of demonstrations in US history.

The current best guess is that over 4.1 million people hit the streets that day at some 653 events. There were actions in every single state of the union. In terms of absolute numbers, only the nationwide Vietnam Moratorium Day rallies on October 15, 1969, where total participation was estimated as at least two million and likely a good deal more, could hope to compete.

From over 700,000 in Washington, DC to 450,000 in New York City to another 450,000 in Los Angeles to 250,000 in Chicago to 175,000 in Boston to 150,000 in Denver, to 150,000 in San Francisco and another 100,000 across the bay in Oakland to 135,000 in Seattle;

to scores of thousands in Atlanta, scores of thousands in Philadelphia,

to tens of thousands in places like Austin and Houston, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Cleveland, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Hartford, Connecticut; Helena, Montana; Madison, Wisconsin; Miami, Florida; St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota;

to hundreds more places with thousands of participants or hundreds or scores or dozens or tens or even just a handful, but all out to speak with one intense, focused, even I could say joyful voice that what is before us will not go unchallenged.

Some among the organizers and even some at some local actions said these were not "anti-Trump" actions; in fact, some even insisted that were apolitical. But of course they were anti-Trump - yet in another and very important sense they were not. They rather were a mass embracing of and support for those things that are most at risk in the reality we face, things such as reproductive rights, the environment, racial justice, peace, the first amendment, the right to know, the needs of the poor and the struggling and the workers, our futures and those of our children.

Washington, DC, 1/21/17
Denver, CO, 1/21/17
The day was such a success that even the Sneerer-in-Chief could not find a way to mock it and his one attempt - "Why didn't these people vote?" - fell flat.

There were, of course, as there always will be, those who dismissed the 21st as just a big "feel good about yourself" party. But then they must have been - certainly should have been - astonished by the spontaneous outbreak of protests at airports around the country in the wake of TheRump's un-American order which no matter how they try to weasel and parse it, was clearly intended to single out Muslims from the Mideast as inherently suspicious and likely to be terrorists.

The result was dramatic as a wave of demonstrations, a wave so dramatic that even major media outlets were using terms like "explosion" and "eruption" to describe it, broke out.

On the minds of many was Martin Niemöller's famous poem. There are many versions but this is the best known:
First they came for the Jews - and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists - and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists - and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me.
People stood in dozens of airports and turned out in the streets in numbers ranging from a dozen to over 10,000 in places from Boston to New York to Philadelphia to Washington, DC to San Francisco to Los Angeles to places you might not expect like Boise, Idaho and Ft. Worth, Texas to welcome immigrants and to say Not This Time. History will not repeat itself. Someone will speak out for you.

Boise Airport, Boise, Idaho
JFK Airport, New York City
Those actions were ethically linked to an earlier act of defiance, this one not in the streets but in the offices of mayors of American cities large and small, who reacted with outrage on January 25 after TheRump signed an executive order to cut off federal funding to municipalities that are "sanctuary cities," ones that do not fully and obediently cooperate with the demands of the deporters.

The defiant officials - from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, along with smaller cities such as New Haven, Syracuse, and Austin - said they were ready for a fight.

In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared "I want to be clear: We're going to stay a sanctuary city. There is no stranger among us."

Mayors Sam Liccardo of San Jose, Ed Lee of San Francisco, and Libby Schaaf of Oakland together declared that "We will not give in to threats or political grandstanding. The Bay Area will stay true to our values of inclusiveness, compassion and equality."

Perhaps most dramatically, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said "To anyone who feels threatened today, you are safe in Boston. If necessary, we will use City Hall itself to shelter and protect anyone who's targeted unjustly."

Because Not. This. Time.

Other signs of the resistance keep popping up:

A woman living in Betsy DeVos's home town of Holland, Michigan put together a private Facebook page to call for a protest against her nomination. Word must have gotten out because a week later over 1500 protesters showed up.

When TheRump went to a GOPper meeting in Philadelphia on January 26, he was met with 1,000 protesters.

When TheRump moved to shut down the Twitter accounts of various federal agencies to hinder the flow of information to the public, individuals in at least eight of those agencies "went rogue" and set up private accounts to get around the order.

When TheRump announced his pick of Neil Gorsuch for SCOTUS, there were immediate protests at the Supreme Court building and other federal courthouses.

And it doesn't stop here. There is on-going organizing to pressure Congresscritters at their local offices, à la the Tea Party but this time for the light side of the force.

The organizers of the Women's March have a plan for having sort of not on the streets but still movement-building action every 10 days for the first 100 days of TheRump regime.

Speaking of 100 days, The Peoples Climate Movement is planning a "March for jobs, justice and the climate" in DC on Saturday, April 29 - which is the 100th day of TheRump-time.

Other groups are considering a DC march on April 15 related, obviously, to taxes and tax returns, specifically, TheRump's.

And there is even talk of a scientists' march on Washington to protest the rejection of science by the White House gangsters.

I"ll end with this: Some several years ago, William Rivers Pitt wrote that
We are down to the ethic of total opposition, and as lonely as that estate may be, it is what we have, and we owe it to those who have suffered beyond our comprehension to continue as we began.
Yes, we are today down to the ethic of total opposition and yes, we owe it to those who have and will suffer to continue on - but know this:

The resistance continues. It is alive and well and it even grows. They may be dark days ahead, but we as a people have not given up and we will not give up. So celebrate the undeniable fact that you are not alone - and carry it on.

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