Notes from the Counter-Inauguration
Many of our members joined in the Women’s Marches for America on January 21st – some in Boston and some in Harwich and Falmouth on Cape Cod. As a church, we do not endorse any political party or position, but we do endorse the words from the UCC: “Be the church. Protect the environment. Care for the poor. Forgive often. Reject racism. Fight for the powerless. Share earthly and spiritual resources. Embrace diversity. Love God.” In support of this stance, one of our members filed this report from the Women’s March in Falmouth:
I knew I couldn’t watch the inauguration last Friday. The new president had already trashed many of the values to which I am committed. I decided instead to wait until Saturday and join the Woman’s March in Falmouth.
The several hundred people who gathered on the Falmouth Green were a diverse lot: male and female, young and old, pink-hatted and bare-headed, bearded and clean-shaven, sign-toting and empty-handed, babes in arms and seniors with walkers. The rally opened and closed with guitar-led songs recalling protests past. In between, speakers gave their views on the transition taking place in the Nation’s capitol.
Dr. Philip Duffy, executive director and president of the Woods Hole Research Center, drew applause when he spoke of the importance of science in addressing such challenges as global warming. Select-woman Megan English Braga urged the audience to reach out to Trump supporters and bring them on board. Congressman Bill Keating made an impassioned plea for resisting the new president’s assault on health care and for keeping the nation’s population inclusive.
Commenting on similar rallies in Washington and across the country, New York Times reporters Susan Chira and Yamiche Alcindor put the Falmouth experience into larger perspective. “On successive days, two parallel and separate Americas were on display.” they wrote. President Trump’s inaugural message was keyed to “an ailing society he would restore to greatness.“ “Then,” they continued, “on Saturday in what amounted to a counter-inauguration, the speakers, performers, and marchers proclaimed allegiance to a profoundly different vision of the nation.”
Some commentators were dismissive of the counter-inauguration as lacking staying power and political heft. “People march and feel good and think they have accomplished something,” remarked pundit David Brooks. “They fool themselves into thinking they are members of a coherent and demanding community. Such movements descend to the language of mass therapy.”
But time may well prove Brooks to be wrong. Today the stakes are higher, the targets more sweeping, the animus more mischievous. As one of the Falmouth speakers said, the incoming administration has done the opposition a favor by the frontal nature of its assault on fundamental American values.
Perhaps the hope expressed on my home-made sign for the Falmouth rally – “Activism beats cynicism” – has a chance of being borne out over time. Indeed if, Saturday’s energy crystallizes into broad-based engagement and informed political action, Saturday may come to replace Friday as the real inauguration.