They’re screaming in New York City. They’re screaming in Chicago and San Francisco and L.A. About 4,000 people were supposed to scream on Boston Common, but the event’s organizer inexplicably canceled due to “reasons beyond our control.”
Nevertheless, thousands of Americans are supposed to assemble on Nov. 8 to “scream helplessly at the sky.” Why? Well, why not? It will be one year since Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, and that’s reason enough for people to emote angrily if impotently at the seeming injustice of it all.
One of the demonstration’s organizers tried to put a positive spin on the essential silliness of the occasion. “While the event calls upon people to scream helplessly,” Johanna Schulman told Newsweek, “we want to convert that sense of helplessness into resistance, into action, and maybe even into optimism.”
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Well, that’s nice.
A year after Trump’s surprising victory, Americans are more divided than ever. In one recent poll by The Washington Post and the University of Maryland, 7 in 10 U.S. adults say our social and political divisions haven’t been so pronounced since the Vietnam War. Seventy-one percent of respondents say we’ve “reached a dangerous low point” in our politics. Around 60 percent say Trump has made the divisions worse.
Maybe – if you’re so predisposed to think so. At least we’re united on this much: Democrats and Republicans alike share a deep distrust in America institutions, especially the press and Congress, which are even more unpopular than the president.
But for those with eyes to see, the divisions have brought remarkable – and refreshing – clarity.
Thousands of people screaming helplessly at the sky encapsulates the basic unseriousness of our gravely serious times. It so typifies the dilemma among what passes for the political left today: Denied power at the ballot box, what other option do they have except to take to the streets?
With clarity comes danger. I’ve spent a great deal of time over the past six months delving into a burgeoning genre of “resistance literature.” It includes Yale historian Timothy Snyder’s slim “On Tyranny,” Mark Bray’s candid “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” Hannah Arendt’s “On Revolution” and Georges Sorel’s “Reflections on Violence.” (I suppose Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened” counts, too, but I only managed 50 pages before I had to set it aside.)
They see a repeat of 1930s Europe in the making here. Whether or not that’s true is entirely beside the point.
What has Trump done, exactly, that makes him a tyrant in the mode of Hitler or Mussolini? Arrested dissidents? Shuttered newspapers? Oh, yes, he blurted out something about challenging FCC licenses. (Before you get too excited, read up on what Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy actually did to Republican-owned newspapers and radio stations.)
Every day, Trump tweets something that drives his enemies to a frenzy. And while they scream helplessly on Twitter, he’s busily cutting departmental budgets, rolling back Obama regulations and attempting to revitalize U.S. military readiness. In other words, he’s acting like a typical Republican.
So why worry? Why not sit back and glory in the political realignment now unfolding?
A group called ResistFascism.org took out a full-page ad in The New York Times on Wednesday, inviting readers to join demonstrations across the country on Saturday. Even in these days of falling revenues and tightening budgets, a full-pager in the Times costs around $100,000. These guys have resources. They’re not fooling around.
Thousands of people screaming at the heavens is political theater of the absurd. Thousands of black-clad anarchists turning up to smash the capitalist patriarchy and oust the “Trump/Pence regime” sends an unmistakably clear message: There will be no peace anytime soon.
Ben Boychuk is managing editor of American Greatness. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @benboychuk.