Have we fanned the spark into a flame? Maybe not a full torch yet, but our pilot light stayed lit throughout 2017. Despite the TaxScam bill threatening to extinguish all hope, our little light persists in the single vote in the Virginia district that made its state legislature 50/50 rather than all red—though that recount may get uncounted thanks to the GOP and the courts. We’ve been burned by gaslighting on a daily basis throughout the year, but the scorch marks are just temporary, right?
The searing began on Inauguration Day with 45’s speech. It painted a cataclysmic picture of America that many believe was the administration’s blueprint for our future. (Giving a $1.5 trillion tax giveaway to the über-wealthy is the people’s holiday gift this year!)
On Inauguration Night, the curtain speech given by a member of the Belarus Free Theatre ended with the wish that U.S. theater artists would never have to create plays against totalitarian rule from exile. The chilling statement, delivered with such kindness during the Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ Off Center Fest, elicited a burst of applause. The audience had gathered in a hard-to-find but impressive room to see Time of Women, which premiered in a tiny apartment in Belarus in 2014. The presence of British citizens and a TV crew were the only reasons the KGB informers surrounding the building didn’t lead to a raid—though that was the last time that apartment was used as a theater. Belarus Free Theatre began in 2005 as a response to total censorship of expression; its founders fled the country in 2011, so Time of Women was rehearsed via Skype and performed illegally.
January’s performance had no hidden messages for us; they are all overt. Belarus Free Theatre continues the resistance in ways we just may need to implement, but so far the repression campaigns here have targeted the media. And the National Parks. And the Centers for Disease Control. And the Environmental Protection Agency….
Early the next day, 20,000 people headed to downtown Santa Ana for Orange County’s version of the Women’s March on Washington. About 5 million humans on all seven continents marched peacefully that day. People of all ages (from fetus to geezer), colors and genders chanted and walked or were conveyed in strollers and wheelchairs. The massive solidarity of it all seemed to unleash an outpouring of long-held resentment. “What took you so long to get woke to our longtime reality?” “All pussies are not Breast Cancer Awareness pink!” “What about intersectional feminism?” Some listened; some didn’t. What else was unleashed? The 10-year-old MeToo group merged with an avalanche of women coming forward and actually being believed. It’s working its way to the top.
Not long after the Women’s March, the campaign promise of a Muslim ban was signed by executive order (and tweet). Many of us learned it had happened late on a Friday because airports across the U.S. were already full of protesters. And we met Sally Yates; then she was fired. The mobilizations were swift for Science and Dreamers, as well. Every Tuesday, without fail, protesters gather outside Darrell Issa’s office in Vista. His is the No. 1 most vulnerable Republican seat in the country, according to the GOP.
Now we await the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But organizers have rapid-fire responses ready to go because nobody is above the law. As of this writing, you can sign up for notifications to gather at the offices of Dana Rohrabacher (Huntington Beach) and Mimi Walters (Irvine); in Santa Ana; at the Nixon Library; in Harvey Milk Park and at Deukmajian Courthouse in Long Beach; and Main Beach in Laguna. Within 24 hours, people across the country will be standing up against the grossest of overreaches to date.
Then get ready for the second Women’s March on Washington (in Santa Ana) on Jan. 20, 2018, which is the same day as the National March for Impeachment in Washington, D.C. But if marching en masse isn’t your thing, focus on getting-out-the-vote efforts. If a single voter meant all the difference in the Virginia state house, think what it could mean on a national level. Postcard-writing efforts have been a weekly event for a friend of mine in Central New York. Leading up to the special election in Alabama to replace Sessions in the Senate, her group hand-addressed a postcard with voting information to every registered Democrat in Alabama. The Democrat beat the child molester but couldn’t free Roy Moore’s poor horse Sassy.
Lisa Black proofreads the dead-tree edition of the Weekly, and writes culture stories for her column Paint It Black.