Last night I went into Manhattan to support a dear friend at her book panel. I hadn’t felt too much energy to go, because this week had been sad and devastating. But I’d promised weeks ago, so I put in my warrior-goddess dark red lipstick and in I went.
After the book event, I met up with my brother and some friends. We were about a mile south of Trump Tower, where I knew protests had been going on since Election Day. (I knew this because my sixteen-year-old had taken the opportunity of her school being closed to go protest both days. My heart swells with pride at the thought of it). So we decided to head up there.
When we arrived, we found protesters penned in by barricades across the street from Trump Tower. At first I was a little hesitant, but eventually we made our way in.
The crowd was chanting enthusiastically, holding homemade signs. When we arrived they were shouting, “Donald Trump is the KKK, racist, sexist, anti-gay.” (Try it. It’s super catchy). Cops lined the street on both sides, barricades cutting off access to the greater part of Fifth Avenue. A worried-looking guy in a suit peered out from a closed, fancy store – Secret Service, he seemed. Gucci was weirdly lit up but closed, a reminder that we were on one of the highest-ticket real estate strips in the world, yet people were chanting in protest. People in cars beeped and waved in solidarity as they drove by. One guy in a day-glo winter hat yelled at us to “get jobs.” I asked him what job he has that requires him to be working at 11:00 o’clock at night on a Friday.
It was exhilarating.
Let me tell you: you have not lived until you’ve screamed out “Pussy grabs back!” at the top of your lungs with scores of strangers, and have heard it echoing down Fifth Avenue, all the way to Tiffany’s, while cops giggle about it across the street. It was so damn cathartic.
Why do we protest? People who don’t see the imminent danger don’t see the point. Which strikes me as odd and a bit sad in a country started as a protest against tyranny. Those that don’t see the point of protest don’t know much about Gandhi or the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., or the women’s suffrage movement or Harvey Milk or ActUp.
We protest to not feel alone in our outrage. We protest because staying silent feels intolerable. We protest for people to know that this is not normal or right, and that turning over the reins of power to a thoroughly unqualified and hateful man is a moral shame and possibly a catastrophe waiting to happen.
I was furious after 2000. I did not protest. I was livid about the Iraq War, opposed to it from the start. I did not protest. I was crestfallen when we failed to vote out the war-monger Bush in 2004. I did not protest. I didn’t protest because while I was deeply concerned about the choices being made for our country, I knew those choices were being made by qualified people who cared about the national good. I didn’t agree with them, but it didn’t feel like handing the keys to the gun cabinet to a toddler prone to temper tantrums.
This is different. That’s why we protest, and will keep up the resistance for the 1,452 days left until November 3, 2020, the day we elect him out of office (if he doesn’t commit an egregiously impeachable offense before then, which he is very likely to do). We will persevere, but it begins by speaking and acting. As Edmund Burke said, The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing.