We are currently in Washington, D.C. Being a little slow on the draw, it took me a while to realize, “I’m in the nation’s capital, within yelling distance of the White House.” So, it seemed sensible to try to yell a bit and do something about what is seriously wrong with the current administration. Yelling is not the right thing to do, but exercising First Amendment rights can be an effective response.
One form of protest that can catch people’s attention is walking about with a sign. So, having looked at many online examples of signs, I came up with my own sign. Only once in 14 years has a photograph accompanied my column. Perhaps you might get to see me with my sign in front of the north side of the White House with this column. If not, I will describe it to you.
In the middle is an image of the 45th president of the United States. Arrayed in a tasteful display around his picture, you would see seven photographs of some of his favorite people. How we could elect a man who admires any of the following is a mystery for experts in mental illness to decipher. But I will let you draw your own conclusions. I titled my poster, “The Liars’ Club.”
Vladimir Putin is an autocratic leader who controls most of what happens in Russia, including direct meddling in our elections. But you can see video of the current president joking and laughing with Putin about such an attack on our governmental election system.
Rodrigo Duterte, current president of the Philippines, is known for his war on drug dealers and users. His solution is simple, kill as many of them as possible. The number of dead folks is estimated to be 5,000 to 20,000. The current occupier of the White House said, “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem.”
Kim Jong Un, the dictator who orders the killing of people he has found offensive, is certainly admired by our top leader. At a political rally for Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey in West Virginia, the current POTUS said, “I was really being tough and so was he. And we would go back and forth. And then we fell in love. No, really. He wrote me beautiful letters.” Huh?
Mohammed bin Salman, a Saudi crown prince, is referred to as “a friend of mine” by the POTUS. Salman has been implicated in the murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But he buys lots of military equipment, so I guess he must be OK.
The other “favorites” of the current White House resident include Recept Erdogan, president of Turkey, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, president of Egypt, and Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China as well as president of the People’s Republic of China. Each of these folks are generally seen as autocrats who are responsible for many deaths in their respective countries. I hope to never have anything to do with any of these stellar characters.
Many residents of the Mother Lode may be thinking, “He’s a great president. What do we care who he likes or respects?” As artist William Turner (1775-1851) wrote, “Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together,” or “Birds of a feather flock together.” Is this the flock that we, as Americans, respect and are excited by? White nationalists, the KKK, white supremacists, and other groups may find aspects of these characters that they do admire.
As I walked about the area, a number of people stopped and pointed to the person that represented their country (Koreans, Egyptians, Saudi Arabians and Filipinos) and expressed angry agreement with my poster. I received many welcoming responses, including when I visited Kamala Harris’s Senate office. It probably will have little impact on the overall arc that our country is currently on, but it felt good to make the effort. I really admire the men who have had a 38-year presence in front of the northern entrance to the White House. They have been protesting war and waging an anti-nuclear peace vigil. I hope that our voters and residents will spend a little time and energy to contact their representatives in Congress and clearly and respectfully share their concerns. If we don’t, I personally am worried (maybe unnecessarily?) that our experiment with freedom, tolerance and diversity will slowly disintegrate.
Kevin Wychopen is a semi-retired school counselor and columnist for the Enterprise. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.