Monday, November 14, 2016

#Not My Protest Rally - Pt 1

Last Friday around 3:30 I quit my research for the day and drove down to the Oval at Ohio State (the Oval is a grassy commons in the middle of campus).  A colleague had invited me, via Facebook, to an anti-Trump protest rally, and I attended out of a sense of solidarity with him.

The rally was centered on a statue in front of the Main Library.  It commemorated William Oxley Thompson, who had been president of Ohio State for 26 years (1899-1925) and the driving force who convinced the state legislature to make OSU Ohio's flagship university.  It was Veterans Day so the university was closed.  Thus the Oval, usually bustling with students, was almost empty.

The organizers had placed poster boards and magic markers at the base of the statue, and as people gathered they were encouraged to create their own placard.  As each participant bent down to pen their slogan a cameraman, with his videocam slanted downward, recorded the result.

The man ahead of me wrote "Fuck Trump" on his placard.  His lettering was surprisingly good, the individual letters nice and even and the two words placed one above the other in the center of the placard, with even margins all around.  I was impressed by his artistry; the hackneyed sentiment, not so much.

I felt oddly nervous as I waited for him to complete his placard.  Beyond solidarity with my colleague I was unclear about why I was there.  But I had enough time to reflect upon a tweet that President-elect Trump has issued late the previous day:

Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!

When I saw it--I had visited his Twitter account, curious to see what he had tweeted about Veterans Day (he hadn't tweeted anything about it)--I just rolled my eyes.  At one level I couldn't believe that a president-elect could be so jejune and whiny.  At another I could believe it all too well, because Trump's almost daily tweets routinely oscillated between bombast about how great he was and outrage about how badly one supposed malefactor or another had treated him.  This most recent tweet, which appeared just two days after his stunning, seemingly upset victory, was particularly stupid.

Professional protesters?

Incited by the media?

Cry me a river, Mr. President-elect.

So I had my slogan.  Taking a purple marker (my daughter's favorite color aside from pink), I scrawled "Professional Protester" on one side and "Grow Up Trump" on the other.  I thought "Professional Protester" would earn a laugh from at least one onlooker but they all just looked baffled.  "Grow Up Trump" was more of a hit, although both sentiments suffered from my execrable handwriting.  The placard was so bad artistically that I felt almost ashamed to carry it.  But I was now officially equipped for the rally.

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