Raise Your Fists And March Around

Sam Brooke

The Women’s March sent a clear message to Trump: don’t expect to infringe on female rights without protest. (Photo: Greg Cook)

It’s safe to say that the reaction to Donald Trump’s inauguration has been a loud one. On the same day that Mr Trump was made President, almost 50 official protests took place around the United States — the DisruptJ20 movement rallied in Washington, North Carolina, and Colorado among other states; ANSWER — Act Now & Stop War & End Racism (they could work on their name a little) — demonstrated in San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington. Many other independent protestors gathered all over the country.

These were followed the next day by the astoundingly huge Women’s March, the largest protests in the USA since the Vietnam War. An estimated 750,000 — one million people gathered in Los Angeles, while over half a million marched on Washington, 400,000 protested in New York City, and 250,000 demonstrated in Chicago. These weren’t consigned to the US, though: there were marches in London, Toronto, Sydney, Paris, and even Antarctica. All in all, 673 Women’s Marches — made up of an estimated 2.6 million people — rocked the world.

Of course, Trump — in his usual Twitter-happy demeanour — criticised the protesters, asking “Why didn’t these people vote?” (when, in reality, it’s estimated that 54 per cent of women voted for Hillary Clinton compared to 42 per cent for Trump) Sure, his reaction may have been dismissive, but the important thing is that he reacted. Because of the sheer amount of people involved in these protests, he had no choice but to acknowledge the rightfully angry people that took part in them.

Now that the election is over, the best tool that the people have is protesting. As the Trump administration looks to regress civil rights, women’s rights, and the fight against climate change, it’s more important than ever that Americans make as much noise as they can to fight these regressive policies — and, importantly, the growing fascist influence in the US.

During the DisuptJ20 protests, Richard Spencer — a white nationalist and neo-Nazi — was punched by a protester during an interview. While some disapproved of it, it would be ignorant to say that Mr Spencer hadn’t provoked anyone — it’s hard to feel sympathy for a man who advocates for a white homeland and a “peaceful ethnic cleansing” to halt the “deconstruction” of European culture. Anyone who advocates for ethnic cleansing is practically volunteering for street violence — a punch to a Nazi is nothing in the grand scheme of things, and sends fascists a message that tolerance isn’t about tolerating the intolerant. As Malcolm X once said: “Nonviolence is fine as long as it works.”

Anti-fascist protests will play a huge part during the Trump administration with its far-right tendencies of xenophobia, nationalism, and sexism, just as they have throughout history. In 1936, an anti-fascist coalition of around 20,000 fought Oswald Moseley’s British Union of Fascists in the Battle of Cable Street, resulting in the BUF’s march through East London being called off and the subsequent decline in their popularity. Americans need to mobilise again in order to ensure that fascism stays in the past.

Demonstrations are the most effective way to combat Trump’s administration because it represents physical and quantifiable dissent — a witty editorial or a petition might be an easy way of showing discontent, but nothing makes a president more uncomfortable (and promotes more change) than the sight of hundreds of thousands of angry people marching on his lawn — just ask John F. Kennedy when the March on Washington occurred.

Were it not for protests in major cities by the Communist Party, Franklin Roosevelt wouldn’t have pushed through his “New Deal” as quickly as he did. Were it not for the Boston Tea Party, the movement that started the American Revolution may not have spread. Were it not for the Stonewall riots, the LGBT rights movement may not have become as influential as it is now.

Protests, have shaped the history of America, from its independence to recent victories like the legalisation of gay marriage. Now — when everything that these protestors have fought for hangs in the balance — they’re more important than ever.