Tuesday, January 21, 2020
US flag

Women around the world march in protest

Protesters from around the country arrived at the Capitol South Metro station in Washington for the Women’s March on Washington this morning, joining close to a thousand protests around the world over the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. Marchers are calling on all concerned citizens to stand up for equality, diversity, and inclusion, and they’re asking that women’s rights to be recognized around the world as human rights.

Many women, though not all, saw in President Trump’s campaign a move toward hate and bigotry and against women, especially given a recording in which he described actions that many people think describe sexual assault. But the marches have expanded their purpose to include other human rights in addition. The pink hats, with the cat ears, though, are an unveiled reference to words the president spoke about 12 years before his inauguration.

US Senator Ben Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, joined the marchers in Washington, along with his wife, daughter, and two granddaughters.

“This was not the fresh, groundbreaking start of a new administration any of us had hoped for, but we will need to set our fears aside and face the next four years together,” he said in an email message. “Democracy isn’t easy and it cannot defend itself. Our mission for the next four years is to do all we can to keep our nation moving forward despite the ugliness that might be on the rise or the regressive plans set in motion by Congressional Republicans.”

A smooth transition of authority, he said, doesn’t mean people who have fought for progress, including on civil rights, should lay down and let those gains be erased without anyone standing up for people’s rights. “I will continue to speak out and fight back when anyone attempts to undercut our public schools, willingly allows more pollution to endanger our air and water, or targets others with hate based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, national origin or sexual orientation,” he wrote.

Unlike demonstrations yesterday in the nation’s capital, which resulted in police officers being injured and hundreds of arrests, the Women’s Marches today have been universally peaceful. People carried signs that said things like, “Hate does not make America great,” “Keep your laws off my uterus,” “The Emperor has no clues,” “They tried to bury us but didn’t know we were seeds,” and “You can’t take my rights; I’m still using them.” One young girl in New Orleans carried a sign that read, “Left or right, we can all see wrong.”

It can be considered human nature to fight fire with fire—or, in this case, to protest against perceived hate and bigotry by using the tools of hate, including violence. But leaders are unanimous in reminding us that we have bigger fish to fry.

The issues that have surfaced in tweets include without limitation:

  • protection of the environment
  • equality of all people, including across wealth, gender, racial, and ethnic lines
  • right to privacy, including the safe, legal right to abortion
  • anti-school choice—pro-separation of church & state and strong public education
  • bullying is not leadership
  • criminal justice, police, and gun reform
  • universal health insurance
  • tax reform
  • preservation of Medicare & Social Security

However, I should point out that over 1 million people participated in the march in Washington, at least 250,000 in Chicago, and hundreds of thousands, amounting to millions, in at least 600 cities around the world. It’s very difficult to sum that up in a short list of issues, as the marches don’t represent a political “movement” per se. Rather, they represent a collective group confronting several key issues.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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