protests, hate crimes, & safety pins

safety pin on jean jacket

As in the UK after the Brexit vote, certain Trump supporters have found themselves licensed to act on their racist impulses, targeting Latinos, Muslims, African-Americans, Asians, children, teens—basically everybody not white. (And y'all said it wasn't about race.) A New York Times editor got snapped at in Arizona by an old white man who told her to "Speak English!" when she actually speaks four languages (which only underlines his ignorance and prejudice). And that's just a mild incident. Democracy Now! cites "hundreds" of racist post-election attacks, as well as an increase in LGBTQ suicide hotline calls. And if you think things are looking bad already, remember that Trump and his clown crew haven't even started their new jobs yet. Our Demagogue-in-Chief will no doubt stoke the racist fires further, just as he did during the campaign. Pandora's box has been opened and all the swastikas and N-words are flying right out.

Sadly, the continuing protests here in Portland turned violent last night, with some individuals breaking windows and bashing cars with baseball bats. And though it was the work of a small number of anarchists, not the larger nonviolent crowd, the protesters will all be lumped together by Trumpers. Protest organizers have denounced the violence and have started to raise money for damages. (Property destruction of local small-business owners is a huge no-no.) The protests must be large, continuous, highly visible, and highly disruptive of business-as-usual to retain public attention while most importantly staying nonviolent as the only way to accumulate wider public support—concepts right out of Civil Disobedience 101.

Unfortunately, the attention-deficient MSM has already turned the Trump protests mostly into page 2 stories, preferring to begin courting access to the Orange President-elect.

Though it's only a symbolic gesture, today I fastened big safety pins onto my daily bag and jacket. They will remind me of my righteous anger. The challenge will be to channel that anger into love and support wherever it's needed: constructive activism small and large. Secession discussions could shake things up, though they have already led to death threats. So will continued protests, the largest expected for Inauguration Day. Some of us also have difficult but important conversations ahead about sexism, racism, and homophobia over Thanksgiving Dinner with family members who voted for Trump and who should be held jointly accountable for the actions of this vile man and those white supporters spewing hate, contradicting the inclusive values of the famous Emma Lazarus poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.

Progressives are, of course, anti-authoritarian and so are at their best when talking back. Many have been organizing locally for years from the bottom-up, and they also have un-activated allies-in-wait. Progressive roots are strong. The government reaction to be expected in the not-so-distant future is martial law. Trump is far too authoritarian and undisciplined to tolerate widespread back-talk from citizens. Preparing for nonviolent civil disobedience should be on every progressive's holiday to-do list.

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