Thursday, August 16, 2018

My Wonderful, Magical Day of Yelling at Nazis, Part Two

We got to DC by 11 AM, just in time to visit the National Gallery of Art. I was excited to see the Dutch Masters’ paintings of ships, but frustration and horror about colonialism put a damper on my fascination with the beautiful, intricate model tall ships and dramatic, almost photorealistic maritime paintings. In the modern and contemporary wing, the Calders gave me such a sense of buoyancy as the light streamed in over the mobiles at all sorts of I.M. Pei-designed angles.

Voyager by Kerry James Marshall ( gave me a sense that goodness and rightness were possible. So did (to a much less transcendent degree) the strong coffee in the museum café.
Detail: Voyager by Kerry James Marshall

Our Lyft driver was happy to hear that we were on our way to Freedom Plaza to yell at nazis. He was African American and a veteran, so the idea of anyone carrying a nazi flag offended him on a deep patriotic level I could probably never fathom.

“That’s not a nazi in the trunk,” he said, “Just a water bottle I keep forgetting to unload.”

“A nazi in the trunk would definitely be five stars” I said, and we promised to yell some extra for him as we jumped out into the humidity to join the crowd.

One of my goals for the day was to really pay attention to what it feels like to be around Antifa members. I knew lots of people were afraid of them, maybe more afraid of them than they are of white nationalists for some reason (racism), so I wanted to figure it out.

Though one of our local anti-fascist groups does seem a little bit like they might be funded by Russia for protest-trolling purposes (Refuse Fascism Philly is almost exclusively white, seems to have a very big poster budget, and has engaged in “both parties are the same” voter suppression rhetoric—could be suspicious, could just be young and rich…) I’ve also felt grateful to see covered-faced anti-fascists take the periphery of the Philly Trans March, seemingly to act as a protective front line in case anything violent might happen. That’s an act of risk and service that means something to

Although the media portrayed it differently, the rally in Freedom Plaza was populated with all different kinds of people. BYP 100 and Black Lives Matter activists, young punk kids handing out “ally cookies” that I didn’t realize were a pun until later on, and at least two two middle-aged ladies carrying signs about the ERA:

Though I have a deep distrust of young white dudes (Okay, white dudes. Okay, dudes in general. Okay, almost everyone because I have anxiety and PTSD and it’s 2018.) I felt a deep wave of affection for a scrawny bespectacled twenty-something white guy standing atop a planter holding an Antifa flag aloft.
And, as at every protest I’ve been to, there were adorable kids being adorable. I put on my teacher voice and told them they were doing SUCH a good job.

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