Sunday, January 22, 2017

Answering the question

It's been quite a weekend on social media, as the Trump Administration begins its term in office. A day after the inauguration ceremony, a few million people - mostly but not exclusively women - took part in protest marches and rallies in all 50 states and in several major cities throughout the world. 

Here's one such comment I saw that drew a little reaction from others.

"Can anyone clarify what they are protesting about? These very aggressive women are bitching about what? Cool down, have a drink with your husband, have sex and laugh. Enough said!"

All right, a lot of reaction. Here's a serious answer.

Admittedly, it's difficult to narrow down the motives of millions of people. I'm sure some just went along with friends, and others are still upset about the Presidential election and wanted to vent a bit.

But I think it's fair to say that there are a lot of people out there who are scared.

If they are part of the 20 million people or so who have health insurance through the ACA, they are scared that the members of the federal government have vowed to cancel the program without coming up over the past few years with any hint of the details of a replacement plan. And some of those who are scared are sick.

If they are people of color, they are scared that states will continue to make it more difficult to vote by closing polling stations in rural areas. And they are scared that the potential Attorney General was rejected as a judicial candidate in the 1980s because he was judged to be a racist by both sides of the aisle. 

If they are immigrants, they are scared of being targeted for harassment and hate crimes, and in some cases they are scared that they could be deported or that their families won't be allowed to join them in this country.

If they care about climate change, they are scared that the new head of the EPA will choose the economy over ecology every time - no matter what scientific data says. 

If they are part of the LGBT community, they are scared that they will be subject to more discrimination from this day forward and not less. Because there are people in government who think it matters who they love and where they go the bathroom. 

If they are interested in protecting reproductive rights, they know that the new President said that he would punish women who had an abortion. And they probably know someone - a relative or a friend - who could be affected by that. 

If they have children, they are scared that the only qualification that a Cabinet nominee appears to have to oversee their public education is that she can sign checks made out to political parties, candidates or causes .

If they prefer honesty from their government, they are scared about a chief executive who is willing to lie about whether it rains on his inaugural speech and the size of the crowd in front of him - and if he'll lie about that, he'll lie about anything.  

And if they are part of the general American population, they are scared of government workers who used the word "enemies" to describe their political opponents. Because they know what happened when Richard Nixon used such descriptions. 

Some of these views are oversimplifications. A much more narrow focus on the particular issue is necessary in order to have a rational discussion on it. Some of these fears won't come close to being realized.

But the protestors' feelings are real and legitimate. They demonstrated that fact, rather loudly, and they deserved to be taken seriously.

If you don't, it says much more about you than it says about them.

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