Liberty and Justice For All

A quick list of reasons I did not march on January 21st, 2017:

  • I was busy driving to college.

That’s it. That’s the only reason.

A theory: America was founded on protesting.

Our forefathers were protestors. George Washington? He led our army to victory through violence and war. Samuel Adams? He led the Sons of Liberty to the Boston harbors and participated in the Boston Tea Party. Alexander Hamilton? I don’t know if you’ve heard or seen the Tony-winning musical about him, but he was a pretty aggressive guy. Hamilton even stole cannons from the British to try and turn the tides of the war. Our forefathers founded America because they were so angry about the British taxations that they protested. America was created through anger and protests which sometimes (especially in the case of the American Revolution), turned violent. All of the forefathers engaged in protesting; some angry, others not. They protested and they were proud to do so. The point is: America is not a silent country. We don’t lay down and accept the problems that come our way. We stand up, we shout, and we scream for what we believe in. We protest.

With that being said, the plethora of protesting that has occurred over the past two weeks has been predominantly peaceful. Yes, there has been violence but let’s all remember that violent protesting is not an act of feminists, or of average protestors, but of anarchists. The protests are not about the violent individuals. They are not important. What’s important are the concepts and the ideas. Instead of focusing on violence, we need to focus on WHY Americans are protesting.

The women who marched in the Women’s March on D.C. (and around the world) wanted to be heard, and they were. We heard them all around the world: in D.C., in L.A., in Boston, in Paris, and in London. There was even a protest in Antarctica (Bowerman)! It was indeed the protest heard around the world. These women wanted to be heard because they’re scared. They don’t know if the man currently in office stands for their beliefs. They may be rightfully scared too, given all the Executive Orders that Donald Trump has made within the last two weeks those of which support a Muslim Ban, women’s right to abortion, and putting a gag-order on scientists. America is a scary place right now and so, Americans are standing up and using their right to protest.

Martin Luther King Jr. himself was an activist and vehement protestor in the 1950’s and 60’s. While we are expected to look back upon him as peaceful and kind, we need to remember that he was aggressive too. He may not have been as aggressive as a Malcom X, but he was definitely no Mahatma Ghandi. He would not stand by, but instead would have helped lead a March on Washington. In fact, he has a perfect quote reflecting the struggle of the public to accept protesting as a natural form of expression:

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;’ who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”  

King would not sit back and say that protesting was too aggressive or vocal, and that we should instead wait and see how Trump governs us. He would leap into action. If he were alive today, he would be planning constant protests and speaking out against Trump.

It’s easy to say that protesting doesn’t affect much. And yes, liberally and quietly protesting might not do a whole lot right off the bat. But eventually, we have to be heard. If you called your senator and asked them not to approve Betsy DeVos, you protested. You’re being active. As long as you’re not just sitting back and accepting the new government regulations, you’re active. Protest! Get loud! It’s important that if you disagree with the government, you make your issues known. Our elected officials were chosen by us to speak FOR us. Yes, Donald Trump is the President, but that doesn’t give him free reign to do whatever he wants. He still has to listen to Americans if they’re wholeheartedly against a specific issue. By protesting, we’re making our voices heard.