The Women’s March opens a new era of resistance

San Francisco Women's March

Yesterday millions of people marched to declare “we’re not gonna take it!” It was an outpouring rarely seen in the US and across the world. Led by women outraged by the new president’s misogyny, racism and habitual dishonesty, huge crowds filled streets in cities and towns to say “no” to Trump. It was the birth of resistance to his administration.

There was an air of disbelief that, the day before, Donald Trump had become President. His blustery inaugural address, a dark statement of a country rotting and beset by “carnage,” was nightmarish. But it was a nightmare from which there was no awakening: the next day, he was bragging and lying at the headquarters of the CIA, a dark cartoonish thug who won’t go away.

Against this backdrop, I took to the streets in San Francisco, along with tens of thousands of my closest friends. Under threatening skies, our Women’s March filled United Nations Plaza – the birthplace of an organization that Trump derided as “a club for people to get together and have a good time.” It was a fitting spot. The crowd displayed a sense of unity and optimism that was rare for any demonstration, much less one under such grim circumstances.

The march was filled with women of all ages and colors, many wearing pink knitted pussy hats in defiance of the pussy-grabbing president. The signs and speeches proclaimed that all issues – health care, immigrant rights, climate change, racism and especially economic justice – are women’s issues, and that women’s issues are everyone’s issues.

Perhaps a quarter of the crowd were men, supporting the women while expressing their own determination to resist. The ease with which the men supported their female friends and relatives was remarkable, the fulfillment of a dream of early feminists: Now, we are all feminists.

The march in Washington was possibly the largest ever held. I attended the previous record holder – the November 1969 march for peace in Vietnam. It was a central, formative event in my life (you can read about my experience there in Some Way Outa Here), but yesterday’s events were very different is some important ways.

In 1969, the grotesque Vietnam war had been raging for four years. We went to Washington full of fury and desperation. On that frigid day, 600,000 people filled the streets chanting, shouting, jeering at a president and congress who were oblivious. The huge crowd showed that the antiwar movement was real and a force to be reckoned with, even as Nixon declared that a “silent majority” supported him. We were mostly peaceful, but the unifying theme was anger.

Yesterday’s march was utterly different. Instead of a long-simmering movement finding itself, as in 1969, this was a new one being born. Young people were discovering that they had much in common with older demonstrators, many of whom were veterans of previous movements. There was a sense that the many issues of the day were urgent and inseparable – this was no one-issue movement. There was a newfound outrage that our country has been seized by an unstable man who was foisted on us by a foreign autocrat, and who lost the popular vote to an unfairly vilified woman. Most of all, there was a fierce sense of commitment to resisting whatever atrocities lie ahead.

The 1969 march was a response to atrocities past, still being committed daily. The Women’s March was a statement that there is a vast movement ready to take on a president who seems hell-bent on committing new atrocities. All were agreed: grim events lie ahead, but we are ready to resist, and to someday sweep these people from power.


The 1969 March on Washington was a pivotal moment in American history. The peace movement went mainstream, no longer a fringe. It changed the lives of millions of Americans, myself included. You can read about the personal drama of that weekend in Some Way Outa Here.

Want to join the Resistance?

Ivanka Trump has inspired Darcie and me to design a bracelet, in the spirit of her 60 Minutes bauble. It’s a solid-silicone statement of how we intend to resist her daddy’s administration:

Wrist Rebel Resistance bracelet

Long ago, when our government was terrorizing Southeast Asia and drafting young men as cannon fodder, I joined an organization called the Philadelphia Resistance. We did whatever we could to throw a wrench in the works, to stop the madness.

Since then I have disagreed with many of my government’s policies, I’ve demonstrated in the streets and spilled much ink (and many electrons) to protest new military adventures, a stolen election in 2000, and racism in its many forms. But only now am I ready to say again:

As loyal Americans, it’s time to resist the extremists who have taken control of our country. They will stop at nothing to impose an order that threatens our safety, health and freedom. I won’t cooperate.

Resistance to the Nixon administration may (or may not) have shortened the Vietnam war – it certainly drove the president into deep paranoia that ultimately drove him from office. And resistance ended the military draft.

Our actions then took many forms. Virtually all were peaceful, but many were militant…blocking access to draft boards, blocking streets (a tactic I came to regret), attempting to close down a military base, political street theater, destroying files, and, most of all, refusing to cooperate with the bureaucracy. Two of these tactics landed me in jail, and a third led to a year-long entanglement with the FBI. (You can read about these in Some Way Outa Here.)

The symbol of the Resistance was the omega: Ω  It’s the symbol for electrical resistance. We’ve proudly incorporated it into the bracelet.

Wrist Rebel Resistance bracelet

OK, so other than looking good, what is this “resistance” thing about in the 21st century?

For starters, resistance means that the proceeds from the bracelet go to the Natural Resources Defence Council, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU. (Yes, the same ACLU that defended me in court 1970.) These organizations are dedicated to serving Americans as the Trump administration tries to attack (not too strong a word) the environment, take away women’s health services, and silence those who point out what’s happening. Providing these services is resisting.

Resistance means defending law-abiding, hardworking immigrants from discrimination, detention, or deportation (in many cases, to countries they have never lived in). These are people who have cared for our children and our parents, who write the software that underpins our economy, who pick our food and who are our friends and neighbors. Protecting them is resisting.

Resistance means standing up for Muslim Americans.  It means, if a Muslim registry is implemented, being the first one in line to say “I am a Muslim.” It means, when Muslims are attacked, wearing a head scarf. When Muslims are under attack, we are all Muslims. Standing together is resisting.

Resistance means preserving our right to health care and a secure retirement. When our health insurance is taken away, it means insisting that until everyone is guaranteed health care, no one is safe. (Especially the middle/working class Trump supporters who will be devastated by the destruction of the Affordable Care Act.) It means refusing to cooperate with private insurance companies if they refuse to serve all Americans. Fighting for universal health care is resisting.

Resistance means stopping new coal and oil power plants, and working with states and private companies to promote the use of low-carbon fuels. And it means helping dislocated coal and oil workers transition to new careers, especially in wind and solar energy. Saving the planet for ourselves and our grandchildren is resisting.

Resistance means standing up for women’s’ rights to control their bodies – especially when those rights are being taken away, one state at a time, and providing safe, affordable alternatives even when they are outlawed. This is resisting.

Resistance means doing the hard work to reduce violence by police against minorities, and to fight the vilification or scapegoating of minorities. Refusing to accept racism is resisting.

Resistance means thinking about what is happening, every day, and not accepting that greed and stupidity is the new normal. The billionaires who have seized power are about to begin looting our country on a scale never before imagined. Standing up for our economic rights – decent wages and a fair share of our prosperity – is a way of saying, “we, and our parents,  built this country, and you’re not going to take it away from us.” Providing services, even when illegal, is resisting.

If we decide it’s just too hard and look the other way, they win. If we just wait till the next election, there may not be another election. If we keep our heads down and do our jobs, we may not have jobs.

It’s time to actively, peacefully, and passionately resist the madness.


Get your Resistance bracelet at WristRebel.com!

How I Ended 2016 in the Twilight Zone

On the morning New Year’s Eve, 2016, I sat on my bed and opened Facebook. The first post I encountered was a picture of the Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling in the Oval Office. Behind him sat Donald Trump at the President’s desk.

What a strange, outlandish idea, I thought. Frightening. I showed it to Darcie.

“I posted that picture,” she said. Sure enough, she had. “I thought it was funny.”

“That’s just too weird,” I said. She looked at me funny. I switched to the Times front page, and there was an article about “President-elect Trump.”

I looked up at Darcie. “Is this a joke? What’s going on? That’s a crazy idea…Trump is a lunatic…”

“Uh, Mark, who won the election?”

I thought hard. “Obama, but that was a few years ago.” Trump hadn’t won an election. That wasn’t possible.

Darcie looked scared now. “Do you remember who lost the election?”

I remembered that Hillary Clinton was running…then…”Oh my god, she lost? She lost! Trump won the election? Oh damn, we’re screwed!” I was shouting now.

This is a true story.

I was recovering from a weeks-long fight with bronchitis, and I had been having trouble breathing. On New Year’s Eve, I decided to exercise. I needed it. And then I was sitting on my bed.

There’s a medical condition called Transient Global Amnesia. (Look it up.) It can happen after intense exercise, especially if the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen. You forget everything that’s happened  for the previous months – in my case, a whole year.

“Where do you work?” asked Darcie.

I told her I worked at the company I left a year ago. Now she was really freaked out.

I wasn’t. Because this happened to me once before, years ago. Then, it was terrifying. But I knew the feeling. And I knew that it was transient – I was certain it was the same thing and that it would all come back. I explained this to Darcie, and she looked it up on Wikipedia. “Yikes, that’s it! That’s just what you’re…doing.” She said “doing” as if I was standing on my head and singing in Hungarian.

I went back to the Facebook picture. “This Twilight Zone picture, it’s real?” I felt very much like I had entered The Twilight Zone.

Darcie looked a little flummoxed. “It’s not real…but…it’s a thing. It’s kind of real…sort of. I guess this whole election could have been on the Twilight Zone.

I was hearing this for the first time, it seemed. All of it. Darcie explained, almost apologetically, about the election, Hillary’s electoral college collapse, about the tweets, the cabinet appointments, the Russian hacks. I learned it all at once. I looked at the Times again, which confirmed it all. I still didn’t remember any of it.

I went through denial, anger, pleading, depression and acceptance in a few minutes. Actually, the acceptance took a while, and I only accepted that it was all true, not OK.

That was the most remarkable feeling: Hearing all this at once for the first time…how can this be OK?  How can anybody be OK with this? It’s preposterous!

And gradually my memory returned. All of it. Nothing is missing, so far as I know. But the feeling of rediscovering the events of the last few months haven’t left me. It’s raw. It’s very, very upsetting.

As one friend told me, “You, of all people! I don’t know anyone who would be more tortured by having to go through all this again, all at once. This is cruel!”

But I challenge him, and you, dear reader, what if this happened to you?  Would you see the madness of the campaign, of Brexit, of the FBI director’s intervention (I really had trouble believing that happened), of the cabinet of right wing billionaires and generals…what would you think if you found your world transformed like this?

Remember the boiling frog? Put a frog in a pot of water and turn up the heat, and the frog will stay there as the water gradually boils. I had become the frog who is tossed into the pot of boiling water, and felt the heat. I wanted to jump out.

If you can’t arrange an attack of Transient Global Amnesia for yourself, begin the new year with an imagination attack. Force yourself to consider what your year-ago self would have thought about what’s happening to us. We’re slowly boiling, my friends.

It’s not OK.


During the Nixon years, young people struggled to find creative ways to stop an out-of-control president. Read about it in Some Way Outa Here.