There were thousands out across the US yesterday protesting the election of Trump. One cannot tell sufficiently from photojournalist accounts, but it appears many, if not most were young, including teenagers, & based on their placards represented those most threatened by Trump’s hateful rhetoric: Blacks, Latinos, women, LGBTs, Muslims, immigrants. These were anti-racist marches, pro-women’s rights, against Muslim-hating, for immigrant rights & against deportations, for LGBT rights.
Twitter, where it seems the most volatile go to vent their wrath, has posts castigating the protesters for not being active except about the election. It’s an odd charge, based solely on uninformed assumptions, since most protesters appear to be very young, were probably little kids during the Occupy movement of 2011, & have every reason to fear the hateful political rhetoric of Trump.
It’s also an odd charge because tens of thousands of young & old of every nationality have repeatedly mobilized in civil rights protests across the US since the vigilante execution of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012. Many among the protesters yesterday may well have participated in those civil rights protests under the banner of Black Lives Matter.
An apparent & significant lack is the absence of international & antiwar sentiment in the protests—judging that only from the placards & banners. But what’s more significant is that the weakened antiwar movement has not provided national leadership & organization because of disunity. The movement is further weakened by divisions about support by some for the Assad dictatorship & Russian military intervention in Syria. Surely young people cannot be faulted for lack of antiwar consciousness when veteran activists are so disoriented as to support Russian bombing of civilians.
It seems apparent to everyone after the election of Trump, that a rightward shift in American politics is brewing. When thousands who will be directly affected come out to protest & express their anxieties about that, it is something to be lauded, encouraged, joined, built, & not something to sniff at as an inferior expression of discontent.
The next time these protests are called, antiwar activists should enthusiastically support & join them in force with antiwar placards tying the racism in the US to the racism of war. It may be time for veteran antiwar activists to follow the inspiration of their youth & not to try to lead or take over what is bigger than them.
(Top photo is Oakland, California march by Noah Berger/Reuters; bottom photo is 16-year-old Ariana Melton at Berkeley High School rally in Berkeley, California by Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)