What is ‘Greatness’ Measured in?

In Defense of Resistance

By | Joe DeVoogd

It was a bleak and cold morning in Washington DC on January 21st, 2017.  The world watched the day before in trepidation as the US swore in a brash billionaire to the highest office in government. The hang-over was beginning to fade and, for many of us, the reality of a Trump presidency was just starting to sink in.  
It was 9 o’clock, and our group was just starting to make its way over to the metro station.  Shoulder to shoulder would be putting it mildly; based on how packed that train was sardines could’ve taken a lesson. We get off at the national mall, thinking it’ll be much more spacious on the street but it’s almost just as packed. There were so many people at the Women’s March on Washington, congestion was becoming a health hazard. I was adrift in a sea of signs and pink hats, gobbling up every breath of fresh air that happened to breeze by.  At a certain point, I had to ask myself the question: “What am I doing here?”

“I should be in school right now! Why do we still have to fight for basic reproductive rights for women?  Why do so many in this country want to undermine women’s healthcare? How could any of this have happened?” 

Feminism has made so much progress in terms of empowering women in preceding decades, and to have it overshadowed by chauvinist as our “leader of the free world” is depressing to say the least.  Though his influence loomed over us it gave me great deal of courage to see that feminists had not grown despondent.  On the contrary, one could even sense a great air of optimism and hope for the future.  I think if nothing else these marches sent a message to misogynists everywhere showing the sheer size of their opposition.  I was honored to be one of the millions of people around the world marching that day.  

Then there were those who would ask us: “What are you doing here?  You’re just standing in the way; go back to work!  What sorts of rights don’t women have that you’re fighting for?”  

Many of people who felt this way were also the same people that protested Obama’s presidency, mimicking a party that famously destroyed private property in the Boston harbor 300 years ago.  Protest and dissent can be as crucial to the political process as paying your taxes.  It makes for a healthier democratic society because it shows all entities of power, where power truly resides when we stand together.  

Thomas Jefferson once wrote: “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.”  It’s as true today as when he said it.  There are Republican lawmakers in 5 different states that want to make peaceful protest a criminal offense subject to significant penalty.  If Citizen’s United wasn’t the last nail in the coffin of our American democracy criminalizing peaceful assembly surely would be.  

It’s no secret that ‘The Donald’ is not a big fan of the first amendment in the Bill of Rights.  Freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the press, freedom to peacefully assemble.  If he did like the 1st amendment he wouldn’t constantly be trying to undermine it.  He wouldn’t have mocked protesters, called journalists the most dishonest people on earth, or ordered a travel ban on 7 predominantly Islamic nations.  He’ll claim that the ban is not a religious thing but then says that he’ll allow Christian refugees priority.  People who could just as easily could be terrorists.  
What sort of vetting system would that be like?: 
“Welcome to US immigration sir.  Are you a bad hombre?  Because if you are you have to tell me.”  

Mr. Trump would like you to just keep you yap shut, and your head down.  He’d tell us “If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all!” Well sir, human decency is on the line, and if we don’t stand to defend it then who will?  If we don’t stand up for the inclusive ideas that made this country what it is then what will become of us?  Look at the numbers, migrants simply do not come here to commit terrorist attacks, they come in search of refuge from these attacks.  The more we disenfranchise Islamic citizens, the more families we tear apart, walls we build, bans we impose, the more prone they will be toward radicalization.  That’s why we march, because respect in human decency is a greater defensive policy than the one we’re seeing today.  We march because when we see the mark of tyranny in our administrators it’s not a liability to stand in opposition; it’s a civic duty.  

During this last election season, we’ve been bombarded by campaign rhetoric and promises.  Yet few mottos were as vague and subjective as the one broadcast by the prevailing campaign: “Make America Great Again”  
How can you argue with that?  I want to make America great.  I wish our country had the best education system in the world yet we rank 14th in education.  I wish we had the best healthcare system in the world but we are ranked number 37, worst in the developed world besides Russia and right behind Costa Rica.  I wish I could say that the United States has the most equitable system of economics or that our country is leading the way in the green technology revolution.  Sadly, this is not the case.  These are the types of subjects that we will need to improve in if we truly seek to make our country great.  There is however one thing that our country is clearly the greatest at:  We can outspend any country in the world in defense by hundreds of billions of dollars.  

I won’t lie, it was a truly dreary day on the 21st in DC.  Yet there was little that could serve to dampen the sense of hope and strength that we gave to one another.   Can still hear those chanting “Love, not hate; that’s what makes America great.”  
When I heard that I knew, so long as we stick together there is no evil policy this man can implement that we can’t tear down. When we stand in solidarity to human rights, we the people, can do anything.  

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