Like many people, I watched the United States election with not just a sense of worry, but one of dread. I was in Miami for work on election night, with colleagues from several other countries. It was a defining moment to be on American soil, especially to be so geographically close to a country the incoming president had promised to punish, and indeed, who would commence to do just that immediately.
I’ve always had conservative friends, though more who tack left. I was raised as a conservative and until so many reached this fever pitch, polarizing hatred of each other in recent years, I could always find common ground with most people. But an electorate driven by fear and lies will never be a sound one, nor will it capitalize on the best that all individuals, and communities, have to offer regardless of political stripe.
I also have many American friends, and as I sat watching the swells for a peaceful march on Washington, D.C., take shape, I knew I had to do something. I had to support friends who wanted no part of an administration that would trample women’s rights, civil rights, and the environment, promote bigotry, racism, xenophobia and homophobia.
I called a friend in New Hampshire and told her I was coming down to get her, and we were going to Boston to march. She asked if I had room for two more. Within an hour of saying on Twitter that I was going, a reader contacted me and said she’d knit me one of the famous pink hats. She did it the next day and I picked it up on my way.
Here’s the thing: I’m a rules kind of person. I made sure the press car I was driving had the requisite permission forms to take it over the border. I calculated how much money I would need and changed it up here. I had to read websites on how to go to a march because I’d never gone to one. And I got down there and was surrounded by 175,000 other people who were pretty much saying the same thing.
I had some fear at the back of my brain. After the Boston Marathon bombing four years ago in this same place, I’d have to be a fool not to. There was trepidation underneath the sea of pink hats and handwritten signs, and there was concern surrounding all those strollers and children. But more importantly, there was an overwhelming sense of hope.
You’ve probably read reports that the marchers were a bunch of bored white housewives, but that is wrong, and unfair. Nearly 30 per cent of Boston’s population is made up of immigrants; in the GTA that number is 52 per cent. When an incoming administration starts taking a bead on women and immigrants and those in the LGBT community, it is possible for citizens to feel the weight of many targets on their back.
I’m not changing the world, but the world is changing me. The new U.S. administration is now also going after scientists, eliminating funding and silencing those who produce facts that get in the way of the made up nonsense that even their spokespeople can’t name. “Alternative facts” are lies. Threatening to destroy the work done by NASA and dozens of other government agencies who deal in nonpartisan science is chilling.
Our scientific community was similarly attacked by our former prime minister. To pretend we can ignore what’s happening is foolish, because every decision being made down there affects us too.
Not sure what I’ll be wearing to the Science March, but I’ll be there.