The gaslight that failed.
Our fake president's inaugural speech on January 20 was a one-man orgy of gaslighting.
Trump spoke of restoring American greatness while painting an absurd caricature of "American carnage." He crowed about "the people" after losing the popular vote. He spoke of unity while spewing insults. He spoke of "politicians who are all talk and no action" despite his own refusal to stop boasting and feuding and focus on his job. He cried "America first" while happily serving as a Russian asset. He decried the export of American jobs despite the "Made in China" labels on his own clothing line. He decried the state of education after naming a cabinet secretary opposed to public education. He decried dilapidated infrastructure that Republican obstruction made worse. He lied about our military being weak and our borders being undefended. He rhapsodized a calamitous and hypocritical neo-isolationism. He is the fox rebuilding the henhouse.
On January 21, while upwards of half a million protesters gathered near the National Mall and in large numbers in cities across the country, Trump's prayer service at National Cathedral featured anti-gay Bishop Harry Jackson. Later, misusing the CIA Memorial Wall as a backdrop, Trump claimed a massive crowd for his swearing-in, ignored the photographic evidence, attacked the news media, and boasted of his appearances on the Time Magazine cover. Still later, Press Secretary Sean Spicer echoed him at a combative and dishonest press briefing. On Sunday, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway brazenly described Spicer's lies as "alternative facts."
Back on Planet Earth Saturday morning, a merry pussy-hatted mob lined up at my local coffee shop. They embodied the festive spirit and youthful energy of the masses streaming to the Mall for the Women's March on Washington, in what became a rare demonstration of collective will.
My sister Ann attended the march with her family. Later she texted me: "It was awesome! We were like sardines on Metro and on the Mall and I was completely at ease. We even sang a round of 'Lean on Me' on the train. So many great signs. We couldn't hear any of the speeches. We couldn't get close enough. The crowd was just so loud. There were a lot of women but also a lot of men. Maybe a 65/35 ratio. [Another suggested 80/20.] Several men had signs like, 'Quality men are for equality' and 'Real men ask for consent.' Some women were dressed as vaginas, others fallopian tubes. Weird, but funny."
Singer Cher had trouble reaching the stage, so she hung out in the crowd. One happy moment onstage was when Ashley Judd cut off the rambling Michael Moore. Someone led a chant, "I am a revolutionary," which made me wonder what exactly she had in mind. Anarchists on Friday had disrupted peaceful protests and clashed with police. By contrast on Saturday, a friend watched a pair of Trump supporters in their red hats walk through the crowd without receiving so much as a mean glance.
Friday night I argued on Twitter with a teacher from Detroit who said I had no understanding of progressive activism because I said breaking shop windows and setting fire to trash cans was harmful to our cause. But our social media spats faded to nothing the next day amid the ebullient crowd.
Looking ahead, the threats by Trump and his minions are so varied, from healthcare to climate to minority rights to press freedom to national security, we will be forced to divide our labors in building a multifaceted resistance. We are dealing with predators who will require all our boldness and creativity to defeat. We must not lie down with them.
Resistance takes many forms, some loud and visible and some quiet and behind the scenes. It lives wherever someone stands up against the #LiarInChief. The positive energy of the Women's Marches around the world (including Antarctica), along with their numbers, signifies no mere reactive energy but a depth of feeling that, if harnessed productively, offers hope for our republic. Meanwhile, #NotMyPresident hides in his bubble.
The reins of our national government have been handed to a reckless and destructive crew. Our values and freedoms are under grave threat. The #Resistance has just begun.
Copyright © 2017 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.