Saturday, February 25, 2017

Overwhelmed... and Back Again

It is just over a month since the Women’s March.  It was an inspiring, uplifting time after weeks of dread.  I had written a few times about how we would have to stand together if we were going to fight the mean-spirited who punched down in order to gain power and wealth.

And then, after January 20, a friend formed a group, one of the many activist groups forming to save our country from the despot.  We called it SWAT:  Strong Women Against Tyranny, and during our formative meeting, she pulled out what she called a guide compiled by a group called Indivisible.  This guide and the group had been coming up more and more frequently, but I tend to resist reading ideological treatises, and, to be honest, it looked like a lot of pages.  But I understood what she was saying.  This was a group who had compiled what had been the modus operandi of the Tea Party.  This was a how-to that made sense.  This was about getting together for democracy.

After the Women’s March, there were a couple of women making the rounds of the news shows that huffed and puffed in outrage that they had not been allowed to join in sponsoring the march.  They claimed they represented many of the values that we marched for.  But they were anti-abortion.  They were told they could march with us, but they could not function as organizers.  Because the essential idea of the Women’s March was that we all support each other.  This was a group that was speaking to individual rights, to freedom, and in order to represent this March, you had to accept that we are all entitled to our beliefs and our right to exercise those beliefs.  To me, this was the Women’s March in its essence.  And that is the essence of Indivisible.

I was heartened by the spirit of the movements, Indivisible and others, that were fighting against the tyranny that had taken over our country.  Rachel Maddow interviewed Tara Burnette from South Carolina, who has joined with Indivisible in the activism.  She voted republican, but she disagreed with the Trump administration on education, and she stood with others who had their own causes and concerns.  She told Rachel, "The state of South Carolina cannot be silent anymore."  I was so proud.  And when Trump came to town to do a victory lap at Boeing, another good friend moved me to go with her to protest.

It was a wonderful protest.  The speakers were inspiring, the signs told the story of our fight.  Two hundred of us showed up carrying signs and wearing our passion for democracy with pride.

But we were relegated to an area called the “free speech zone.”  It was miles from where Trump was celebrating and of course implied that free speech was not welcome outside those gates.  Over 200 of us showed up to protest, but the object of the protest would never have to see us.  And at a point near the end of our rally, someone yelled out, “There he is.”  Sure enough, it was Air Force One, a huge phallus piercing the skies over North Charleston.  On this day, it was a blatant fuck you reminding us who had the power.

The local TV news coverage was pretty awful.  Channel 5 news, which news team always does tend to drool over the Sanfords and Grahams, was so salivating over the president’s visit that they had assigned every one of their first-line reporters to Boeing.  They threw a couple of their second-line reporters out to interview and report on the protest.  It was announced that there were 100 protesters, and "dozens" of counter-protesters (there were six).  Someone interviewed one of us at the protest, and someone else gave the same amount of time to the counter-protesters.

It was discouraging, but I just decided to boycott Channel 5 news.   I am 5'1" and I am always the short person standing behind the tall person, but this day I was front and center.  I was tickled that Channel 4 news actually held the camera on me and my sign -- “I felt safe until January 20” -- for a few seconds.

But, since then, I haven’t written a blog.  I’ve tried to keep up with the news, and I have truly been excited by the amazing people who have shown up at town halls to hold elected officials accountable.  I write, but I don’t often show up at events, and when I do I rarely speak.  So I continue to be impressed with the smart and determined people who are asking the tough questions and refusing to let politicians hide behind rhetoric.  But fact was, I wasn't feeling a lot of energy for the fight.

Yesterday, Friday, I entertained the thought of taking the day off, not checking my emails, maybe even not turning on the news.  But I turned the TV on at 1, and he was there, at the perennially ugly CPAC convention, and he was in his element.  He was talking about the press, and making his outrageous accusations, and telling his devotees that the press should be made to give up their sources.  And then I got online, and saw that the New York Times and other major media outlets had not been allowed in to the afternoon’s meeting with press secretary Sean Spicer.

My heart fell.  I don’t know a lot of history, but I know more than Trump.  The words I was hearing were the words that come when a dictator is wresting control of a democracy.  The actions were the actions of a third world tyrant.  

But then I read a message on Facebook.  A wonderful activist had sent me a message saying she was proud of me, and I wondered whatever for?  I checked around and realized the letter to the editor I had sent to The State had made it into the day’s paper.  And then she posted my letter, urged others to write comments in support.  Anticipating possible hateful remarks she told me not to look at the comments.  She said, “We got this.”  A day later her caring and nurturance still makes me smile.

That is what this incredible time is about.  It is the safety pins that mean if you are being attacked and intimidated, we will be there for you.  It means if this dictatorship is able to enforce a Muslim registry, we will be there registering our names alongside yours.  It means that even if we are in the lucky majority who aren’t at risk of violence and hate crimes we will defend those who are.  It is the Muslim people who last week took up the cause to raise money to repair the vandalized Jewish cemetery.  And it is people who may not understand but will defend the right to choose one's sexual identity.  It is people who would not have an abortion but believe that every woman has the right to make her own choice.  It is the fight for the freedom of the press.  The right to walk down the street without fear of being frisked or arrested, or shot by an unstable person carrying a gun.  And it is the fight against the sick minds that want to rip families apart in the name of nationalism.

And I remembered that when Donald Trump is under attack, he doubles down.  He doesn’t always win, but he knows how to bluff.  And that is what he is doing now, because he is under attack.  The cards are stacked against him.  I really believe that.  Every day I hear the voices of the lawyers, scholars, and all the rest of us, speaking up for democracy.

And then I get back up and get back in the fight.  


  1. Wonderful Letter to the Editor. Keep writing.

  2. Yes, Agnes! Your voice is ours, said better. Keep it up. I have new walking shoes on your behalf.