After the U.S. Department of the Interior retweeted a pair of aerial photos comparing the size of the crowd at President Obama’s inauguration in 2009 with the much sparser attendance at Donald Trump’s ceremony, Trump ordered the department’s Twitter accounts to be shut down.
Soon after, all pages on Whitehouse.gov that made reference to civil rights, health care or climate change reportedly were removed from the website.
Welcome to the Era of the Despot. No wonder millions of people around the world gathered in major cities to advocate for equality, kindness and decency.
In cities and towns around the world the day after the inauguration, people turned out for marches in numbers far beyond what was expected. A couple of days before the march in Raleigh, organizers expected about 2,000 participants. The crowd estimate at noon on Saturday was 17,000. About 200,000 were expected in Washington D.C.; half a million turned out, more than double the crowd for Trump’s inauguration. Chicago expected about 50,000 and was off by a factor of five. When 250,000 people clogged Chicago’s streets along the route, the “march” part had to be canceled and turned into a humongous rally.
The Raleigh march stepped off shortly before its 10:30 a.m. scheduled start time. The streets were so full of marchers that people at the back of the crowd in City Center weren’t able to begin walking until after 11. Those who took to the streets ranged from tikes in strollers to senior citizens with walkers.
The overwhelming response to the opportunity to show up may have its roots in women feeling that they had already fought these battles and made progress. Yet my daughter is facing the same discrimination I faced at her age. And the threats today transcend gender: the environment, health care, immigration, LGBTQ rights and, of course, unequal pay.
The marchers in the U.S., predominantly white judging by a New York Times compilation of photos from around the globe, https://nyti.ms/2jKBgNM, used humor in getting their message across, gently poking fun at Trump with such signs as “Even Ikea builds better cabinets,” and “If it weren’t for immigrants, Trump would have no wives.”
While people marched, Trump continued to show his disrespect for government and the citizenry, so as far as getting him to change his behavior or mindset, we were ineffective.
But what did change was strengthening the message to world leaders that “We are still here.” You can take away our rights, but you can’t touch our dignity. You can silence our voice, but you can’t make us go away.
Through that groundswell comes our power. Our congressional leaders are watching, even if Trump isn’t.
— Nancy Oates