I left the subway on 57th Street and Seventh Avenue. Protesters with signs and pink hats hurried toward the crowd, excited for the day and what it meant for women across the world. I too was excited and wondered how people would come together in support of the Women’s March. The march symbolizes a celebration of womanhood and further represents an international call for greater gender equality and justice for crimes committed against women.
People from all backgrounds with all sorts of creative signs and decorations walked, cheered and booed President Donald Trump; I even saw a 10-foot-tall cardboard model of a vagina, as well as a lady wearing a costume the shape of a middle finger to actively display her opinion toward Trump and the government.
As I was walking near the southwest corner of Central Park, something caught the corner of my eye, something I thought I’d never see at the Women’s March: a red hat emblazoned with “Make America Great Again.” In fact, I didn’t just see one, but probably six to seven people wearing these Trump-famed hats, along with one other person who was waving a “MAGA” flag. While appearing as one group in solidarity with their support of Trump, these people were individuals with different backgrounds. Their signs read “Jews for Trump,” “Gays for Trump,” “Women for Trump,” “Blacks for Trump,” et cetera. I was not shocked to see these counter-protesters met with hatred and profanity.
This march, which was intended to reflect unity and perseverance, became the host of division and conflict, much like this country. People were shouting over each other instead of listening to the other side’s perspective, allowing the steel barricade to segregate them both physically and figuratively. It was, however, pleasing to see some attempts of political discourse as people crossed to the other side to discuss prevalent problems in the United States.
I approached the counter-protesters to talk and hear their stories in an attempt to understand why they would want to support Trump. I first asked the person holding the “Gays for Trump” sign. Apparently, he was first a Bernie Sanders supporter who, after Sanders lost the primaries, decided to vote for Trump. He said that he had been fed up with identity politics. “Just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I have to think in a certain way,” he said. I could understand such frustration with identity politics, especially seeing a liberal white man yelling at a black Trump supporter that he is a disgrace to his race.
Overall, I had mixed experiences when speaking with the counter-protesters. While I did listen to and debate their arguments regarding Trump and their views in a respectful fashion, there were also times where I was met with hostility. For example, I kindly asked a woman supporting Trump why she didn’t like the liberal media and received the response, “I’d rather not talk to you,” while she walked away from me. Nevertheless, it was worthwhile to reach out to those who were willing to have a conversation. If we as a country wish to move forward and make progress, the shouts will have to fade, the steel barriers will have to be moved and we’ll eventually need to talk.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.
Email Mert Erenel at [email protected].