The primary message of Saturday’s massive demonstration in downtown Los Angeles was to reaffirm the Golden Rule
Putting national politics and our new president’s size-related insecurities aside for a few paragraphs, let’s just say that being part of Women’s March Los Angeles on Saturday felt pretty awesome.
A river of hundreds of thousands of people flowed from Pershing Square to Los Angeles City Hall without incident or a single arrest — from several points inside the crowd, in fact, the mood was as friendly and buoyant as a neighborhood block party. People brought their kids and dogs. They made signs imbued with humor. Instead of honking in frustration or rage, drivers stuck waiting for overflow crowds to pass actually high-fived marchers as they streamed past. If only Disneyland crowds and drivers on the 405 could be so polite.
Staff writer Christina Campodonico, managing editor Joe Piasecki and regular Argonaut contributors Beige Luciano-Adams, Stephanie Case, Nicole Elizabeth Payne and Ted Soqui each shot photos and videos for live coverage on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and for this week’s print edition. Maria Martin documented similar positive vibes at the Women’s March on Washington.
In general, our experiences covering the march affirmed that people can still treat others with dignity and kindness.
Which brings us back to national politics, an arena where such values are sorely lacking as of late.
There’s no denying that vast numbers of participants marched to challenge and oppose President Trump, who took the bait by accusing the media of downplaying the size of his inauguration crowd.
Those ubiquitous pink “pussy hats” and all the cat-themed signs in L.A. and D.C. were a direct and unmistakable rebuke of the notion that men in power can degrade and even sexually assault women — or as Trump bragged in that leaked “Access Hollywood” tape, “Grab them by the pussy.”
Affirmations of a woman’s right to be treated with basic human dignity comingled with signs and speeches in solidarity with other groups who felt threatened by the rhetoric of the presidential campaign — immigrants, minority communities, Muslim-Americans and the LGBTQ community in particular.
But during the march that big tent included straight white men and street vendors and police officers, too —
As Mike Bonin, who represents Westside neighborhoods on the L.A. City Council, put it during his time addressing the crowd at Pershing Square: “Together we are united for women, for immigrants, for [the] LGBT community, the homeless, to end poverty, to end gun violence, to stand up for justice, to stand up for everyone.”
“I felt that I had to participate in events like this to support human rights, not just women’s rights, but human rights,” said Ellen Klein, a member of the Westchester-Playa Democratic Club and one of 48 people who traveled from Westchester to the march via a chartered bus. “There was a great energy and spirit — that feeling of community and coming together for a cause and making our voices heard.”
We don’t expect those who support President Trump to go around celebrating the turnout at Women’s March Los Angeles. But to dismiss it outright as a dead-end kumbaya moment by a bunch of precious snowflakes (a current groupthink social media meme) who didn’t vote for your guy would be to
also dismiss some of the positive values that participants actively affirmed: Guys can’t lay hands on women with impunity. People who don’t look like you or think like you or agree with you are people too.
Those who marched on Saturday and those who cheer the arrival of President Trump have a lot of differences to work through in finding solutions to the many complicated problems that divide our nation. Solving these problems is not going to be easy, and getting there will certainly involve disagreement and political strife.
But if those on the left and those on the right can rise above the temptation to denigrate others during the many arguments to come, we’ll all be a lot better off for it.