Dean and I took Isabel to two separate protests on Sunday in DC. The first was in opposition of Betsy DeVos as the nominee as Secretary of Education. I’ll get back to that. It was important.
The second was the No Muslim Ban protest. This is a pressing matter, in my opinion, and I feel that it will have dire consequences if not stopped. I have photographs from the event, which I am happy to share, but I would like to speak my mind for a moment.
This past Friday, Trump signed an executive order to “protect the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States”. Sure. Sounds great. Who wouldn’t want this? Know anyone that likes terrorists? Nope. Neither do I. It wasn’t the thought, it was the way he wants to go through with it. Most terrorist attacks in this country have been committed by citizens of this country. Half were born here and five were naturalized citizens. Only five had green cards or visas. This ban makes no sense. It blocks legal workers, students and families from visiting their loved ones.
Listen, I am all for tweaking the system that was in place, but the way Trump put this in place was wrong. No one was able to preview the order. It is vague and confusing to enact. A FIVE year-old was detained…and they defended this! I mean, a five year-old child may have a tantrum or act defiantly, but they are NOT terrorists.
Oh, and the fact that no terrorists’ acts have been committed by any of the countries on this ban! What?!
A person that I went to school with wrote a post on Facebook. He stated that he didn’t know any people affected by the ban, so why should this concern him? I find this stance terrifying. It should concern people because….well, because…EMPATHY. It doesn’t matter if it personally affects him or not. If no one stands up to this, it’s not going to change. And that is just wrong.
After the DeVos protest, we walked back to our car and drove toward the White House. The closer that we got, the more people that we saw with signs. There were men, women and children. Some wore pussyhats, but most didn’t. It took us awhile before we could find parking, but when we found it, we grabbed it and started walking the several blocks to the White House.
Along the way, we started chatting to a Muslim couple that had parked behind us on the street. They were very nice and we talked about our lives, the ban and DeVos. The woman had a special needs child and she was worried about what would happen if DeVos was to be appointed. I agreed. I wish we would have gotten their names and picture, but we ended up parting ways when we got near the White House. They went right up to the front and we walked around the block to enter from the far side of Lafayette Square.
As we turned the corner, we saw the huge crowd that had assembled in front of the White house. There were people filling the park, in the street, on statues and in trees. All colors, all ages, all religions…all speaking out against this ban. It was lovely.
Dean, Isabel and I meandered throughout the crowd, taking it all in. When the crowd became too thick, I moved over to the side of the walkway and invited Dean to go out to take pictures while I waited with Isabel and held up my sign. After he finished, he came back and we switched places so that I could go out and take some pictures as well. These are a combination of our pictures in Lafayette Square:
After awhile, I noticed that the crowd seemed to be thinning out. At first, I thought that perhaps people were going home. I quickly realized how wrong I was. Instead, people were taking to the streets…so we followed along.
The stream of people turned left from Madison Place in front of the Department of the Treasury on Pennsylvania Avenue, right onto 15th Street and then left to continue on Pennsylvania Avenue again.
There was chanting. There was music. It was beautiful. So many people from so many different walks of life, all united.
And can you guess where we were headed? Yup, you guessed it…the Trump Hotel. I seriously don’t know why anyone stays there, you would not have a peaceful visit.
So, yeah…there is generally a barricade around the front of the Trump Hotel…with guards. Well, the people just sort of took it down. They did not go in, but they stood on the steps, chanted and waved flags. To be clear, there was no violence at all. I’m pretty sure that they just sort of jumped the barrier.
It was here, however, that I had my one heart-in-my-throat, huge dose of reality. This picture here:
This. This, right here. This is why this protest means something. This is why the travel ban is wrong. This is why we should care.
It is important for us, as Americans, to stand up. It is important that our voices are heard and our bodies are seen. I fear that we risk losing young Muslims to extremism if they begin to think that the views of the Trump administration and the Alt-Right are common and normal. We need to be visible to them. They need to see that they have our support.
I would like to add…DC police and law enforcement agencies…they were awesome throughout this event. Kudos for a job well done.