Charles Blow Throws Down the Gauntlet: 'We Dissidents Are Legion'
As Charles Blow put it in his Monday column, on January 20th Donald Trump was "installed" as President of the United States. Not elected, but installed. It's not a word Blow uses lightly. Most presidents will at least pay lip service to the idea of unity, and at least include one kind word about their opponents. Not this narcissist in chief: "The Dean of Discord made clear his purpose and his plan: It is not to bring America together but to rip it asunder," Blow writes. He included words that, as Blow reminds us, have never been uttered in an inaugural speech, "Bleed, carnage, depletion and disrepair. Ripped, rusted and stolen. Tombstones, trapped and windswept. Urban, sad and Islamic. It felt at times as though he were reading aloud from a post-apocalyptic movie script."
The speech was partly written by the dark lord of Breitbart himself Steve Bannon. He may have contributed the lines that should, Blow writes, shake America the most: "At one point in the speech, Trump delivered the bewildering line: 'When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.' Patriotism does not drive out prejudice; to the contrary, it can actually enshrine it. No one was more patriotic than our founding fathers, and yet most of the prominent founding fathers were slave owners."
January 20th may have felt like a day of mourning for many Americans, but the day after, "Saturday’s Women’s Marches across the country and around the world answered with a thundering roar." Blow notes that in addition to a crowd at least three times that of the inauguration, the marches represented:
a rebuke of bigotry and a call for equality and inclusion. They demonstrated the awesome power of individual outrage joined to collective action. And it was a message to America that the majority did not support this president or his plans and will not simply tuck tail and cower in the face of the threat. This was an uprising; this was a fighting back. This was a resistance.
Blow reminds us that this inclusion will come with growing pains. To those who continue to rage against identity politics, as if marginalized groups' simple request for respect was a bad messaging strategy, Blow has this to say: "The Enlightenment must never bow to the Inquisition."
He continues, "recognizing and even celebrating individual identity groups doesn’t make America weaker; it makes America stronger. Acknowledging that identity groups have not always been—and indeed, continue not to be—treated equally in this country should not be a cause for agitation, but a call to action. Parity is not born of forced erasure but rather respectful subsumption." Those who continue to worship at the myth of a monolithic white working class would also do well to heed Blow's words: "If my discussion of my pain makes you ill at ease, you have a problem, not me."
Blow ends this week's column on a defiant, hopeful note. This weekend's marches sent a clear message: "Your comfort will not be built on our constriction. We are America. We are loud, 'nasty' and fed up. We are motivated dissidents and we are legion."