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Susan and I took the train to DC last Friday with lots of people and returned on Sunday. We stayed at Lois’s house. On Saturday we three went to the Women’s March on Washington. We wore our bubble-gum pink “Nasty (old) Woman” hoodies. (One of us is 83—probably one of the oldest participants.)

Chatter about the march had been that the black and white women organizing it couldn’t get along. Some complained that protests over the rest of the country were distracting people from going to DC. The organizers weren’t organized enough to tell me how many people from Boston were attending, but there were many. That is expected, since Trump lost badly here.

The crowds were uncomfortable, and the Amtrak announcer kept telling people to take the first seat they could find because the train was full. The Mall was uncomfortably jammed, as were all the streets leading to it. We couldn’t hear the speakers. Some reports mentioned a Jumbotron but we couldn’t see it.

The lines for the bathrooms were 50 people long. Any bare ground was muddy, so we hoped we wouldn’t fall. A grim-faced John Kerry walked through with his dog to a roar of recognition and gratitude. Why was he so grim? What was he doing there if he was so grim? Had he just come from a meeting at which he had had bad news?

We stood around waiting for the march to begin. Then we heard that the march route was so crowded that we couldn’t march. Then we marched anyway.

With all these problems, maybe it was not worth it.

It was one of the best experiences all half million of us had ever had. It was America at its best, the one we long for.

Kindness, first. It was like four days after 9/11 when I got on a plane. “Let me help you,” was what the few passengers on my plane said to one another. That disaster, like this one, had elicited a concern for one’s fellow human beings that normal life doesn’t produce. “Come get in line ahead of us,” shouted one young woman at the head of the bathroom line as she noticed the canes two of us carried. We didn’t take up her offer, but we bathed in her generosity.

Diversity next. This march was America. We were black, white, Jew, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, immigrant, citizen, tall, short, rich, poor, old, young, men, women, some from Montana, others from Michigan, lots from New York. We saw a trans band, a person of indeterminate sex covered with bangles and beads, a white guy in a kilt because he said, “I wanted to wear a skirt.” The welcome for this diversity came naturally to the march participants. It was hard for marchers to understand why so many Americans could not follow the basic Christian rule: “Do unto others . . .” that is fundamental to all religions. From what dark part of their heart had this distrust, this fear, this rejection of the “other” come? There were no dark hearts in this group.

Instead there was joy, bravery and determination. This crowd had gathered because of dismay, but no one was depressed. Like Americans throughout our history, these people were hopeful and confident about their mission. They were not defensive or angry. The happy camaraderie made everyone feel safe. Every criticism of Trump was couched in humor or word play. On Saturday the Mall was the home of the brave.

This group was responsible. Remarkably, there was no litter on the ground. These people didn’t make life hard for neighbors. They were good citizens.

Comedy and inventiveness were the means. Americans have always had new ideas and new solutions. We pride ourselves on our fertile imaginations and ingenious solutions that build industries, businesses and civic entities. So there were dozens of signs or chants filled with irony or word play. “I’m sick and tired of this PC culture treating everyone with dignity and respect.” “Our rights are not up for grabs.” “Resist the normalization of ignorance.” “Pussy Power.” “Hands too small. Can’t build a wall.” And“#FreeMelania.”

There was also the acknowledgment that the way to annoy bullies is to make fun of them, make jokes about them and expose them to ridicule in as many ways as possible. The marchers felt a deep satisfaction with this response.

This was grassroots, not corporate. Not one corporation had been able to take over the event. Signs were home-made. A graphic had been created to provide a “brand” for this event, but more common were the original costumes.

What’s next? Watchfulness. More mockery. Donations to all the causes in jeopardy. Support for our Massachusetts elected officials in DC. Also pride in so many Americans demonstrating the inclusive, supportive attitudes that really make America great.

Downtown View is a column by newspaperwoman Karen Cord Taylor who founded The Beacon Hill Times in 1995 and served as its editor and publisher until late 2007. She also founded and served as editor and publisher of the Charlestown Patriot-Bridge and The Back Bay Sun weeklies. Karen now works from her home in downtown Boston and blogs at BostonColumn.com. Please feel free to leave responses in the comments section below.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. I commend these women for protesting all the rights they have lost due to Donald trumps policies…. Hold on a second…. What rights did they lose?

    • The march was not about rights lost, but about the tenor of the campaign, as well as preemptively letting our government know that we will not sit down while the Republicans ignore or trample on issues such as free speech, the rights of people of color, healthcare, LGBTQ rights and many others that I am sure that I am not detailing here. We are putting the government on notice that we are watching. Trump said he was our president, and we are letting him know what the expectation is.

  2. “Americans have always had new ideas and new solutions. We pride ourselves on our fertile imaginations and ingenious solutions that build industries, businesses and civic entities. ” This is what Trump is looking to give back to the people. This is why he won. Economically the US has been in decline, stifling what the above quote references, with the last 8 years delivering the crushing blow most in the US (who don’t live in wealthy blue state population centers) have been suffering under. Those who supported Hillary still don’t seem to understand what’s truly taking place. They believe the media scaremongering that the Hillary campaign pushed out to the masses, without being willing to look behind the curtain. I do believe that over time it will become clearer to many more the existing state of our country, and where we all hope Trump will take it.

      • While I don’t disagree that was part of the problem, it’s equally important to note that for the past 8 years US military’s active engagement in fact grew globally. I can’t even imagine where the next 4 years of the same would’ve taken us should “she” have won.

  3. Don’t know how many people said before the election that if Trump were elected, they would move to Canada. Well the election has come and gone plus the inauguration has come and gone, and they are still here! What a bunch of liars! I was pretty ambivalent until I heard that stuff, so I did my part. If NAFTA was for real, moving to Canada should be as easy as moving to Connecticut. I figured it was our big opportunity to make America Great Again, but nooooo, they lied. Let’s face it liberals, Trudeau is your kind of guy. He will welcome you and your trust funds with open arms. Canada has a postal system so you can still get the checks. It’s not that much colder, plus with Global Warming, it’s just like it used to be here. Come on gang, let’s go.

  4. I am in the camp of the majority of Americans who believe the election featured the two worst & & unpopular candidates in history.Trump is unhinged & HC carries more baggage than a Greyhound bus.Heaven help us all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • True, but let’s at least have a sense of humor. It’s really hard to say that you believe in either candidate which makes this article a little rediculous. As an alternative, we could have had Bill Weld as VP!

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