The Need for Protest

For the last week we have heard—and for the next several years we will continue to hear—continued calls to unify behind this presidency. We will hear that we need to respect the office of President of the United States. We will hear “Yes, he is your president.” And yes, we should unify with the President of the United States, who should be our president.

In only eight days we have seen that unity is not something that will be achieved soon, and that is rightfully so. President Trump’s inauguration address was one of the most divisive in American history. In only eight days, we have seen an unprecedented, potentially illegal ban on immigration from seven countries that is correctly being referred to as a “Muslim ban”; we have seen the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff removed from the Primary Committee of the National Security Council, to be replaced by Steve Bannon, the head of Breitbart News and Counselor to the President; we have seen the Global Gag Rule reinstated, potentially endangering the lives of women across the world; we have seen the beginning of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, without a plan to replace.

Since the inauguration, we have seen two major protest events take place across the nation (and the world) opposing the Trump Administration’s policies. The Women’s March had millions of people come out and many of the demonstrations were so large that the actual physical act of marching couldn’t take place. On Saturday evening and all of Sunday, protests took place in city squares (such as Court Square in Harrisonburg, VA) and airports across the nation. Protests are being planned to call on Trump to release his tax returns, to demand action on and recognition of climate change, and more.

I know most people don’t like talking about politics. It sucks. My plan was to give up on it after the election. Since then (particularly in the last week), I have realized that if I am able to make the choice to stay silent and if I am lucky enough to not be forced to speak out against the injustice many in our country are facing, then it would be irresponsible for me to not speak out. It’s terrifying. Who knows the repercussions of speaking out against this administration—from friends, from family, from coworkers, or from somewhere else? Even more terrifying, though, are the consequences of not speaking out.

We must speak out. We must stand up. We must rise. For it is the fundamental responsibility of the citizens of a republic to state their grievances when their elected representatives no longer represent them. It is the responsibility of the citizens of a republic to speak up for those who cannot. It is the responsibility of citizens of a republic to exercise their rights when the prospect of losing their rights is near.

So do not tell me to unify. Do not tell me to quiet down. Do not tell me to accept this. We have an administration ignoring court orders, ignoring the rights of its people, and ignoring decency. I will not settle for this. I respect the office of President of the United States and I expect the man who holds that office to do the same.

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

-Emma Lazarus