“This Is a Movement, Not a Moment!”: In It for the Long Haul in Protesting Trump

Last night, I marched with hundreds of other people in Washington, DC, from the Trump International Hotel to the White House. The people there represented a broad range of groups that included Hillary Clinton campaign organizers, Black Lives Matter activists, feminists, Bernie Sanders supporters, members of the LGBTQ community, democratic socialists, and even anti-fascists and anarchists. I saw people of all races, ages, religions, and socioeconomic classes as well as people presenting as all genders and sexual orientations. We came together in our nation’s capital last night to tell the world that Donald Trump is “Not my president!” and that our vision for the United States is one of acceptance, equity, and justice, not the hatred and bigotry of the billionaire real estate mogul. There were differences and disagreements to be sure, as would be expected within such a diverse crowd, but we were all united in our outrage.

For the next four years, we must keep that outrage burning. We chanted at the protest, “This is a movement, not a moment!” We cannot let our anger out today, only to go back to complacency tomorrow. We must march and scream in the streets because that is the only way our voices will be heard. We must lobby our senators and members of Congress and demand that they represent all of their constituents. We must find an ally ourselves with national organizations that advance our values by volunteering with them, donating to them, and becoming members. We must organize community groups, protests, and rallies in our local communities to protect the vulnerable people there and to knock on doors, pass out literature, and campaign for candidates who do represent our values and respect our Constitution. There is still hope for us to make a difference, especially at the state and local levels. In our everyday dealings with those around us, we must constantly be vigilant to censure racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic speech and actions wherever we see them, because they are not acceptable. We must also galvanize those around us to join us in organizing and mobilizing. Yes, these actions will require time, energy, and sacrifice on our part, and, yes, they will be difficult. But it will be time, energy, and sacrifice well worth the effort because without them, we risk losing our basic freedoms and human rights. Those within the Democratic Party must also take a long, hard look at themselves and ask difficult questions about how to present a viable alternative to Trump both in the coming midterm elections and in the 2020 presidential election. While racism, sexism, and prejudice are partly to blame for Trump’s rise, we must also take seriously the legitimate economic concerns of working class people who have been ignored and marginalized by both Democrats and Republicans in their disregard of unions, their advancement of free trade, and their insistence in putting corporate interests and profit over the needs of people. We must return to a government for the people and by the people, rather than a government that caters to Wall Street. This introspection requires compassion and empathy for working class people, rather than callous dismissals of them as “anti-intellectual,” a dismissal that I see far too often in humanist circles. We must respect the lived experiences of working class people just as much as we must respect the lived experiences of women and people of color when they speak about their oppression. When those who are marginalized in our society tell us that they are hurting and struggling and suffering, we must take their concerns seriously and stand in solidarity with them to alleviate that suffering. Similarly, we as humanists must stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters to protect them from the scapegoating, and if we must criticize extremist Islam, then we must do so with the full awareness that our criticisms can be used by some as fuel for racism. We must clearly and directly defend the human rights of dignity of Muslims and those perceived as Muslims. If we are going to successfully defend our values, then we must build broad coalitions that cross class, racial, religious, and gender lines. Now is not the time for smug superiority. It is a time for humility and solidarity. In this uncharted and uncertain political climate, a danger to one is a danger to all. The American Humanist Association will continue to stand for humanist values, and we will continue to fight for our civil liberties and constitutional rights. The humanist movement has weathered setbacks before, and we must not become despondent. The number of nonreligious Americans continues to grow, providing us with a unique opportunity to foster the humanist movement, even in the shadow of a Trump presidency ushered in by religious right voters. The numbers are on our side, even if the upcoming administration is not, so we must be active and vigilant for every opportunity to make our voices heard so that others will join our ranks to build the humanist movement. And the humanist movement itself must join with progressive allies to create an even bigger movement that is strong enough to push for an agenda of acceptance, diversity, equality, and justice for all people. protest_01 protest_02 protest_03 protest_05 protest_07Tags: ,