I went to the New York version of the Women's March taking place nationwide (and it turns out world wide). The March was YUGE. Forty Second Street was so packed with people -- and more coming in -- that the march could hardly march. We walked very slowly from First Avenue to Grand Central. The march continued up Fifth Avenue to the the Joker's Lair high over Gotham City, but I never got that far. After about 3 hours down 42nd Street, my back was killing me and my dogs were barking, and so I bailed at Grand Central Terminal. I salute all who made it all the way uptown.
The trains and buses coming and going were packed with protesters, many carrying signs and wearing pink (dudes too). Even in my neighborhood as I was walking home, I saw lots of people with signs going to and fro on Graham Avenue in Brooklyn (Williamsburg).
I had a great time. I went with 5 friends. We met for lunch in the East Village and then traveled by a bus packed with protestors (and I mean packed) to 42nd Street and First Avenue where we caught up with the march. The official rallying point of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza was so full of people that no more people could get in.
These are my pictures from the March. They are freely available.
And of course, what is a protest march without signs?
The Manchurian Candidate.
Norman Rockwell's painting of Rosie the Riveter for the Saturday Evening Post in 1943.
He had a 19 year old girl named Mary Doyle pose based on Michelangelo's Isaiah from the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Rosie rests her penny-loafered foot triumphantly on a battered copy of Hitler's Mein Kampf. The reflection in her visor resembles a halo; a female Saint Michael with Satan beat down under her feet.
If men don't have the heart to resist and fight back this venture into fascism, the women clearly do. As far as I'm concerned, Trump did not become President of the USA so much as king of all the white people who voted for him. His inaugural address (mostly written by Steve Bannon) was full of fascist appeals: the nation is under threat from within and without; only a strong leader can save the nation; solidarity with the tribe, the race, the sect counts for more than the rights of a few puny individuals. Trump used the term "America First" in his speech. That was the slogan of Charles Lindbergh's movement to stay out of WWII, a movement with barely concealed fascist sympathies and more than a little antisemitism. Already in the first press briefings, some Goebbels wannabes are trying to threaten the press into parroting the official story of events.
Women -- half the population of the USA -- were singled out by Trump for scorn and humiliation. Fascist and theocratic ideologues for years wanted to return women to a servile and subordinate status. Women have a lot to lose from this new regime, and so they've stepped up to fight it.
Who knows if this gigantic protest will make any difference in the end. Maybe the energies released here will go the way of too many left wing grass-roots movements; dissipated in factionalism or impotent anarchism. But then, it might also mean the beginning of the end of this new dictatorship. Women might save liberal democracy if for no other reason than they stand to lose so much if it is destroyed.
Dictators thrive when their opponents feel isolated and hopeless.
Sure rallies like those today are mostly symbolic, but symbols matter and they have their power. A big power that they have is a vision of movement and community to battle the isolation and division imposed by oppressors. Marches, rallies, and "zaps" -- public political disruptions of official business -- played a vital role in early gay liberation showing people who felt isolated and alone that there was a community waiting for them and that they didn't have to accept the hardships and humiliations imposed upon them.
So too I feel much better and more hopeful today.
The March of the Women (Shoulder to Shoulder) from Wild Love Music on Vimeo.