I went to the NYC Women’s March with two friends last Saturday. I was grateful the weather was merciful to us, and I enjoyed the company of several hundred protestors as we marched together for a broad common cause. I saw many people who seized my interest: a little girl protester with her own sign, a woman who cosplayed as lady justice, an old jaded woman who I loved meeting, and other people.
I have somewhat mixed feelings about the women’s march and politics in general. I think mass protests are badly needed in America in this day and age, and I am happy to be part of a larger movement, at least for two hours. But being part of a mass of people gives me discomfort because I fear the herd will sweep me away and mold me to be like everyone else.
You can’t avoid herds when dealing with politics of any kind, progressive activists and reactionary militants alike. You simply need people to clump together and believe in the same party line to make movements the same way moist air must clump together around a speck of dirt to form a drop of rain. I did not make that simile for no reason: ideologies are dirty by nature, crude at best and false at worst. And wherever there are sheeps, there are wolves hiding within the flock, pushing the same demands as we do for their occult goals.
Our dirty party line is this: Trump, his advisors, and followers are a brainwashed cult of lying, chauvinist scumbags while we are a righteous oppressed rebel group of average Joes returning democracy to the people. If we all wear pussy hats, chant the same lame lines, and lecture all the ignorant dolts on feminist theory the mean sexist pigs in power will listen to us and pass the right laws. Our beliefs regarding Trump and company are largely true but we will not bother to critique our politics, or our rivals’, with much care most of the time, and most of us have little interest in doing so. Most of us will content ourselves with marches and chants, feeling very proud of ourselves as great activists.
Of course everything I just said equally applies to all the Trump supporters too, and to the Bernie Bros., and to the alt right, and to the anarchists who want to crash the whole system down. I met a fringe of Trump supporters at Columbus Circle, of six people at most. The feminist protestors swarmed them like wasps to jump and scream at them like monkeys while the Trump supporters screeched and threw turds at them in return. The Trump protestors like to think themselves brave Spartans defending their sacred land from the barbaric Persian horde, but we share the same fantasy. It all depends on context: protestors in Texas appear the opposite as in New York, but the truth does not change.
Why did the protestors on the other side of the fence defend Trump? One old woman feared Muslim immigrants would enforce Sharia and destroy our way of life, insisting feminists and other liberals were hurting the women they swore to protect. An old man thought liberals in power privileged illegal immigrants who sneaked into the country over soldiers who gave life and limb to protect the country. An old Jewish man believed Trump would protect Israel from Palestinian terrorists. They may or may not be wrong but their concerns our valid; we should give them serious thought.
The other Trump allies were morons. A young gay man argued with my friend, insisting Trump did not persecute gays, but when my friend informed him Trump supported gay conversion therapy he could not respond. A black man condemned all the “fake news” the liberals made up to slander Trump and a whole conspiracy of lying mass media, then insisted we watch Fox News instead.
Conservative minorities are a fascinating breed of hypocrites: they complain how liberals always bring up their race or sex when arguing with them, but will freely bring up their race and sex to mislead anyone who opposes them. The young gay man said, “I’m gay too, and I support Trump! You want to control my thoughts, make me think exactly the same as you do, as you think every gay person should!” Dude, drop your nonsense party line about Orwell. If you did not read anything beyond 1984, shut up.
Politics as usual.