By BOB CUDDY
I was eyeballing the signs at the SLO Women’s March on Jan. 21, and my head jerked back at one of them. Whoa, I thought, I don’t like the guy but that’s a bit harsh.
The sign read “Trump Loves Hate.” Or so I thought at first. I blinked and read again. “Love Trumps Hate, “ it said.
Oh well, that’s what happens when you get old. Your synapses don’t fire correctly.
But who knew misfiring synapses could be perspicacious?
The march, which locally drew thousands of people in dank and drizzly weather, and millions internationally, was a marvel and an inspiration, a better-late-than-never visit from hope at a time when despair was pounding on the door.
The Women’s March and its many ramifications continue to be discussed elsewhere. Here are a few of my observations about the local affair; thoughts from a local writer who has covered or participated in dozens of such events.
First, the turnout. I don’t know if anyone counts people passing through the public events turnstiles in small towns like SLO, but this was a massive affair. I’ve been here 11 years and never seen anything approaching it. The same is true around the world. Don’t let anyone tell you that it was no big deal, or just a handful of privileged suburban women with time on their hands: that’s a lie.
The variety was impressive: Muslims, Jews, Christians and None of the Above. Babies and nonagenarians and everything in between; mostly women – it was the women’s march after all – but with also a goodly sprinkling of men, including that much-criticized (often deservedly so) demographic, old white males like yours truly. All were energized and enthusiastic, lightening a gray day and a dark time.
Organizers asked participants to make their own signs and they obliged around the world with witty, passionate, and to-the-point messages. The local crowd did not disappoint. Some I noticed: “Keep the Kids, Deport the Racists”; “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance”; “Misogyny is Infectious”; “Respect Everyone, Period”; “Decency Matters.”
My personal favorite: “Now You’ve Pissed off Grandma.”
There was plenty more to write about and others are doing so and sharing photos. When it was all said and done, I asked myself what it meant, what is the bottom line.
And then it occurred to me. The post-Trump inauguration Women’s March doesn’t have a bottom line: It is the top line of a new era in the United States, a new incarnation of old, old values about equality and respect that real Americans share.
The unamerican interlopers who have seized power and already are abusing it don’t realize what they’ve done: They’ve provoked people who believe in our ideals but have taken those ideals for granted.
No more complacency: The snoozers are all awake now. It’s going to take a while, because power does not yield easily, but they’re rolling up their sleeves and preparing for the long haul. To paraphrase the last U.S. president, who was quoting Martin Luther King Jr., the arc of history bends toward justice. And as the president before that famously said, “Bring it on.”
Bob Cuddy is an award-winning journalist who lives in Arroyo Grande.