I’ve had my eye trained on the newly elected US President, but am watching with even more interest how the people who didn’t vote for Trump, are reacting to his first days in office.
As has been widely reported, there was Madonna’s speech at the Women’s March, in Washington, where she famously said ‘Yes, I’m angry, yes, I am outraged, yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House,’ and ‘to our detractors that insist that this march will never add up to anything, ‘fuck you.’ FUCK YOU!’
An expression of love?
These statements were taken out of context – I heard her entire speech on YouTube. The rest of the sentence after the part about blowing up the White House said, ‘But I know this won’t change anything. We cannot fall into despair. As the poet W.H. Auden once wrote on the eve of WWII, ‘We must love one another or die. I choose love.’
But any Trump voter or right wing politician has a reasonable right to ask how saying ‘I’ve thought about blowing up the White House,’ and ‘FUCK YOU!’ to detractors is an expression of love?
Then there was the famous anti-bully video put up on YouTube speculating that Barron Trump, President Trump’s youngest child, may have autism. The video was subsequently championed by Rosie O’Donnell, who claimed that this was an amazing opportunity to bring attention to the autism debate. Amid the ensuing media storm, when Melania Trump threatened to sue the creators of the video unless they took the video off the Internet, O’Donnell wrote an impassioned note on her website to say that she meant no harm; she recently learned her three year old has autism, and so has a personal interest in the subject.
‘I have been immersed in that world/reality since. . . as we try to grab onto anything to keep us standing. The knowledge we r not alone, there r others living this too. When I saw the anti-bullying video that mentioned Barron it spoke to the symptoms many ASD kids have. It was educational and informational. These symptoms so many do not understand– I thought – how amazing IF it is true.’
Perhaps not so amazing for Barron Trump, a 10-year-old boy who did not ask for this kind of intense public scrutiny and who has to live among students his own age, who may start asking disturbing questions, particularly after a Saturday Night Live star also piped in with the Tweet that he could be the ‘first homeschool shooter.’
Small wonder that people like Newt Gingrich announced on Fox News: ‘I love the left, when they said “I dreamed about blowing up the White House,” they actually meant “yellow purple banana,” but they didn’t want to say “yellow purple banana,” so they said “blow up the White House.” What you have is emerging left-wing fascism. . . .The truth is, she ought to be arrested.’
High and low
I have one big question to all this: How is spreading gossip about a 10 year old or saying ‘F-you’ to people who don’t agree with you an example of ‘going high when they go low?’ the catchphrase for the Democratic party after it was coined by Michelle Obama?
Many of us have studied the Conscientious Objectors, the people who refused to fight in our national wars because of their objection to killing. We now need an army of ‘Conscious Objectors,’ who know how to disagree without getting ugly themselves.
Marching was great – the ultimate ‘we’re doing something’ activism. As David Brooks wrote in the New York Times recently, ‘People march and feel good and think they have accomplished something. They have a social experience with a lot of people and fool themselves into thinking they are members of a coherent and demanding community.’
Yes, marches can mobilize the troops into realizing they have to band together to get something done. But the ‘central challenge,’ the hard graft, as Brooks says, is to ‘modernize a binding American idea.’
If the protesters to the current administration wish to change things, they have to offer a ‘better nationalism,’ says Brooks, that pulls together around a ‘central mission,’ that ‘balances the dynamism of capitalism with biblical morality.’
In other words, they have to offer a single, alternative vision that everyone can rally around, not just women, not just minorities. And when the opposition goes low, the trick is to stay high – all the time.