Sunday, January 29, 2017

You say you want a revolution?

Notes on the Women’s March on Denver

By Chuck Smythe

Fifty years ago, there was Nixon. The people took to the streets. Watching, I decided that was accomplishing nothing, so I didn’t participate. Years later, I learned that protests had in fact eventually made it impossible to continue Vietnam, and furthermore fueled the paranoia with which Nixon eventually destroyed himself. I resolved that I would show up next time. The time has come, and as a first baby step I attended the Women’s March on Denver a week ago yesterday.
    The first problem was getting there. Driving was not an option, since parking is difficult downtown even on a normal day. The bus? The Regional Transportation District was putting on as many extra busses as the rules allowed, knowing they would not be enough. They weren’t: by 7 a.m. the line was twice around the bus terminal. Charters? Every one available within a hundred miles was booked. Fortunately, my neighbor Britta, a former Democratic Chairman, knew someone who knew someone who had managed to charter a few busses. So at 7 on that bitter Saturday morning I went to an obscure little synagogue in the northern ’burbs and boarded a school bus with a charter label. No belts, no comforts, knee room adequate for a fifth grader, but off we went, my seatmate a big, cheerful man with a vast Rabbinical beard. Some of the leaders aboard tried to instigate singing, chanting slogans, and other team-building, but most of us were too sleepy.
    Half an hour later we were dropped off outside the Denver Library, with no guidance other than a command to return here at 2. Our hosts went off to do a special ceremony of their own, so I wandered off into a slowly gathering crowd, looking for anyplace warm. The library? Opens at 10. Art museum? Same. One small deli with an hour’s line outside. I finally found a coffee shop a few blocks away where I was able to squeeze into a corner to await the March. Finally we joined a general movement to the street, where we shuffled off in more or less the same direction waving cardboard signs. Very little chanting or shouting. People just ambled along chatting and laughing at each other’s signs and shirts – many lewd, almost all denouncing Trump. “Keep your tiny hands off of my pussy.” “Trump, shut up and make me a sandwich.” And so forth. A few taking one side or another on abortion, etc. About half the crowd were middle-aged women, the rest an assortment of men, children, dogs, freaks and hairys, dykes and fairies.

    Shortly arriving back at Civic Center Park, people milled around aimlessly while the drummers started warming up the crowd for the speakers. Someone had provided at least a thousand port-a-potties, thank goodness.

    I slithered into a corner where I could hear the first speaker, a woman who had been fired from one of the big newspapers, allegedly for pushing women’s issues too hard. Political rhetoric rapidly caused my eyes to glaze, so I wandered off, finding that the PA system was only good for about fifty yards. I marched on, trying to get warm. I tried to avoid dense gatherings, thinking they might be dangerous, but in fact the crowd remained eerily calm. The cops hung out on the fringes until an ambulance came in, and they were relieved to have something to do. One old black guy sat on a bench blowing soap bubbles at passersby. The whole thing had more the air of a cold picnic than a revolution. I tried to guess the size of the crowd. Perhaps a stadium worth, so I guesstimated 50 thousand. The papers the next day said 100K.
    At last I boarded the bus for home, glad of the experience and asking “Are we howling at the moon?”

Copyright © 2017 by Chuck Smythe


  1. My Atlanta experience was similar, Chuck. Howling at the moon is an important ritual. Thank you for adding your body to the masses. We were the proverbial drops of water in the ocean. However, the ocean wouldn't be the ocean without lots of drops of water. Keep marching. Keep writing. Stay vigilent! ~Judy G-S

    1. Judy, dear former STC colleague, THANK YOU for commenting!

  2. So timely: Frank Bruni’s NY Times article "A Sisterly ‘No’ to Donald Trump". Excerpt:

    [My friend Maya Rao and her sisters are] precisely the kind of Americans who feel so insulted and threatened by President Trump. They’re precisely the kind who make this country so special and fill me with such fierce love for it. It gave them a home and horizons they might not have found elsewhere. They treasure that enough to defend it.
        A week ago Saturday they woke in New Jersey at 3:30 a.m. for a 5:30 a.m. bus. Then they traveled for four hours, to Washington and the Women’s March.
        Maya, 41, had never done anything like this before. Neither had her older sister, Mythili Lahiri, 44, or her younger one, Meera Oliva, 39. No national marches. No street-corner demonstrations. No hoisting of signs. No chanting of chants.
        Until recently they thought it was enough to keep up with the news and cast their votes in accordance with their support of the Democratic Party. There didn’t seem to be time for anything more. They have demanding careers. They have three children each. They have husbands.
        An extra hour of sleep is a luxury. An extra two is a fantasy.
        Then: Trump. As women, they gasped at his sexism.

  3. I would recommend protesting in the spring time. As for marching in the sixties ending the war, I wish that was true. It did piss Nixon off so that was something I guess. However,the war was brought into the homes of the American people each night. They saw first hand the death and destruction that was going on in Nam. And the draft was still in place. So each family with an 18 year old stood a chance of their kid coming home in a body-bag. It was the news outlets that ended the war and Nixon's time in the White House. We got wet, cold and the hell beat out of us for very little gain. We howled at the moon also but the moon has no ears.

    1. And than YOU for the fuller historical perspective! The press is having a field day today, with virtually daily totalitarian attacks against it to ENSURE that it’s going to keep its back up.

  4. Sharon, thanks for your comment:

    "I read them all. I've found your contributors, and comments are always not only good writing but viewpoints I truly enjoy and often a different way of looking at the subject. Expanding my way of thinking. I feel I'm learning with each article."

  5. If you wish to march for something do it in support of Newspapers and TV Stations that stand against the bulling. However, so many of them now are owned by right leaning corporations it is hard to tell how far they will go. For this you can thank Reagan; his deregulation has allowed the buying and selling of the truth for profit. At the end of the day,I do believe the news outlets are more responsive to outside pressure than the White House. If you hold the press's feet to the fire it may be possible to make his support weaken. The press is under attack, we need to let them know we have their back and in return we want the truth.

  6. Marching in support of newspapers and TV stations – I LIKE IT!
        Or in agitation against those that compromise the truth to spout the "official line" or curry favor with the government?

  7. Thanks for reading, all! I especially like "howling at the moon is an important ritual". Words of wisdom to start the morning.