By Olivia Walters, Contributor
Emotions are running high after the remarkably tense campaign season of the past year. Many are pleased by Trump’s victory, but it has caused millions of others from all corners of America and across the globe to mobilize. Reacting to the toxic use of social media and outlandish rhetoric, protesters organized in multiple cities around the nation and the world during the weekend following Trump’s inauguration. Furman students and faculty marched in North and South Carolina and in the nation’s capital. On the surface it was about women’s rights. The inexcusable video that captured Trump speaking about grabbing women by their genitalia, along with past comments he has made insulting women’s intelligence and work ability, merit nothing less than anger.
At the same time, the Women’s Marches spoke to a range of broader issues among concerned minority groups such as the LGBT+ community, the disabled, Muslims, people of color and immigrants who all feel verbally targeted by the new leader of the United States. Temperaments once numbed by incredulity have morphed into a multi-colored fire of resistance.
Certain news organizations last week sought to put the protesters’ principal motivations into a clearer picture. After talk of the grassroots movement originated in Washington D.C., an estimated 1 million people became interested in participating in sister marches, according to USA Today. The popularity arose because people were disappointed and disgusted, the Working Families Party senior advisor Valerie Ervin speculated. Moreover, in The New York Times’s coverage of Trump’s meeting with Martin Luther King III on MLK day, fear and distrust by minorities were named as two strong emotions stemming from his alarming proposed policy agenda. The solution to these woes was to reach solidarity through massive assembly.
MultipleWomen’s Marches this past weekend have given the green light for future movements taking an anti-Trump stance on this scale to form. Of the noteworthy successes reached, diverse communities were brought together, equal rights were advocated and speakers from all sorts of organizations voiced valid arguments. Forces united against bigotry will not back down during the remainder of Trump’s stay in the White House, for as it has been witnessed, women do not accept Trump’s degradation.
That is not what is worth disputing. It might be explained, from a less-emotional and practical viewpoint, that tensions are boiling at this moment because of a dynamic society that is hyper-sensitive. Understandably, since Trump has not said much to make minorities feel included. Thus, as media panders more and more to an embittered sort of Trump coverage, negative public opinion goes up and patience goes down. A sense of “wait and see” is lost. For a world that has no clue what will happen under Trump’s presidency, everyone’s reactionary instinct is to turn on the defensive. From a more optimistic perspective, it seems too early to extract any truth from what the world’s worst orator (if he’s considered as such) has boasted up to today.
This is not meant to suggest that we hand over criticism for blind faith in what is to come; nor is it a way of showing consent for the many hurtful, tasteless remarks made by Trump. People should be passionate about their representation and status in the United States. No one should feel silenced by higher government. Ideally what ought to happen is more public doubt about the believability of a rhetoric that is unimpressive, ironic and fundamentally unpersuasive. We need to learn how to sift through the messiness of Trump-speak. That means putting a stop to reading Trump’s wild Twitter updates as breaking news. This whole bypassing-the-news concept that Trump is working off of is not convincing. If the public is to be informed and react appropriately to the 45th presidency, it needs to be capable of a sophisticated sense of discerning what is worth believing and what is not.
The Women’s Marches left a powerful impression on the beginning of Trump’s presidency, but it is possible that promised radical policy changes will not see the light of day as quickly as expected, or even at all. Worth mentioning, however, is the fact that Trump rushed to take measures against Obamacare by signing an executive order to push it through the repeal process only hours after being sworn in, CNN Breaking News reported on the evening of the inauguration. Only time will tell how long the Affordable Healthcare Act can survive before being replaced. In the meantime, other movements may take inspiration from the extraordinary harmony witnessed by women and other allies Jan. 21.