I hadn’t planned on going to a political rally last night. In fact, I’d had specific other plans–there’s a local SF book club that I’m trying to attend in, y’know, an attempt to socialize myself better–but god damn it, this is it, people. These are the days that, in history class, we would say, “Well, if *I* had been alive in the 30s, *I* would have…”
This moment, what you’re doing now, that’s what you’d have been doing then, because our Right Now is the path they were on eighty years ago. A huge difference, though, is that we have history on our side, we have the precedent. We have the parallel. We have the knowledge, the ability to recognize that this *is* the path they were on eighty years ago, which means we have the chance to stop some of the worst of history from repeating itself. So if you thought you’d be on the side of right, if you thought you’d have been standing up for those who were afraid and rejected by your government, then this is the time to show it. This is the time to put your feet on the street and go out in the rain and the dark and to say not on my watch.
My friend Nick Harkaway told a magnificent story on Twitter the other day. When he was a kid, he went to do some kind of work-study or something in Germany. The job he worked at was in a duct tape factory, packaging up crates and boxes and pallets of duct tape. Most of the workers used fork lifts, because heavy! But there were these two kind of older (at least to Nick’s young punk self) guys who did it all by hand, and were incredibly fast. They kind of befriended Nick, despite him being a young punk. A big guy and a little guy. Big guy didn’t talk much, little guy did, they’d been friends for life, like. And one day the little guy, for no particular reason, said, “You know we were raised up in the Hitler Youth.”
These two perfectly ordinary guys, these two men who had befriended a young mouthy English kid, had been sent off by presumably well-meaning parents to be raised up in the Nazi regime. And Nick said, in this Twitter story, he said, “We say ‘it can’t happen here’. The thing is, ‘here’ is *always* where it happens.”
Here is where it always happens.
What we do now, is what we would have done then. What I can do from Ireland is go to protests, call my legislators, give money to the ACLU. We live in a culture that glorifies violence and physical action, but if you can’t march or rally, or even if it’s just that the idea of it gives you the heebie-jeebies, but what you *can* do is make a donation to Planned Parenthood, or say, “Look, today I’m going to show you the good things that are happening in the world,” don’t discount that. We’re on the knife’s edge of what’s going to be a long, hard fight, and it’s going to need support from every angle. Do what you can in it, and don’t condemn yourself if somebody else seems to be able to do more, or if you wish you yourself could do more. Resist in the ways that you can. But do resist. If you ever thought “If I’d been alive back then,” if you ever thought you’d have been *better*, stronger, kinder, more compassionate, less afraid, smarter, more insightful, than our grandparents were…then grasp that, and resist.
So a rally against the #Unpresidented’s ban on Muslim travellers–not, as it was touted in some spaces, an anti-American rally, but an anti-Trump and anti-racism rally–was called for Dublin yesterday evening, and I went. The weather was miserable, ranging all day between “soft” (which means a falling mist that you don’t really see until you’re out in it and *damp*) to downpour. I reckoned that with that weather, and so little notice, the rally would be lucky to have 50 people show up, and that 200 would be a great showing. And that’s *part* of why I went. If there weren’t likely to be many people, it felt especially important to be one of them, so that there would be at least one more body out there adding to whatever meagre numbers there might be.
Then the bus I was on unloaded at the US Embassy (where the rally was being held) and I thought there just might be a couple hundred after all, since between the busload and the people I saw walking by, there were already 50 people easily.
This was taken around 6:30pm, when people were still arriving. There were probably already 300 people there.
Dad and me at right about the same time, with the rally behind us.
A Very Canadian Protester. :)
By around 7pm, there were hundreds more people. I think the turnout was around 5-600; Dad thinks it could have been as much as a thousand. Either way, the turnout was tremendous for a rainy cold Thursday. I was glad I went. I was *thrilled* that hundreds of other people went.
A few more pictures behind the cut.