To Rally

We were planning on being in the parade until my husband dropped a whole ass IKEA shelf that weighed about 20 pounds and had a sharp metal edge directly onto his own head somehow. Two hours and seven staples and diagnosis of a mild concussion later, we decided he should not inflict his really gnarly head wound on a COVID-paranoid public.

So, to still participate somehow in the local Juneteenth parade my neighborhood decided at the spur of the moment to throw, Kick and I got busy making signs and recruiting friends to come watch from the sidelines, masked and appropriately distanced.

It was a car caravan, taking off from one corner of town and snaking all the way around it, ending at a local park. Before we went we talked about the end of slavery, about how people were still fighting to be treated fairly, we watched some kids’ history videos, but I think Kick just wanted to do anything that involved at least a couple of strangers for an hour or so.

We heard it before we saw it: horns honking, music playing, people cheering. It went on for a mile and a half.

It didn’t strike me until we rounded the corner and the first cars came into view just how long it had been since our streets had seen any public expression of joy.

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At the rally in Oklahoma last night, the Trump faithful on Saturday lined up wearing Trump hats and shirts, and carrying flags — Trump flags, American flags, flags bearing images of Mr. Trump kissing an American flag. A “four more years” chant broke out before 7 a.m. For blocks, the scene was more reminiscent of a sports tailgate than a political rally, as music blared and beer flowed between supporters, some of whom had traveled hundreds of miles.

Salespeople set up tents hawking Trump memorabilia, and as attendees began to enter the checkpoint for the rally, they left lawn chairs abandoned on the street.

As the day wore on and rallygoers congregated in line, the group — which was overwhelmingly white — increasingly included both the most die-hard Trump supporters and also more rank-and-file fans of the president. Both sets of voters were skeptical that the virus posed a serious risk to them.

I was trying to follow the Trump event last night and …

During his speech, Mr. Trump delivered a defensive, 15-minute explanation of images that showed him ambling slowly down a ramp after delivering the commencement address at the West Point military academy last weekend. He blamed his slow walk on “leather soles” on his shoes and said he was trying not to fall on his behind.

He also took several sips of water out of a glass after video at the West Point event showed him struggling to bring a glass up to his lips. He said he was trying to make sure he did not spill the water on his tie. The crowd applauded wildly.

I don’t understand what his people get out of this. I honestly don’t and I never have. What help is it, to be this angry all the time? I’ve been angry since mid-March, since kindergarten got cancelled, since we started holing up in our house, since friends started getting sick, since their kids started getting sick.

Since the images of police beating protesters, jailing protesters, at the president’s express command, for doing exactly what we were there to watch at Friday’s parade.

Car after car, people leaning out the windows, up through the sunroof, cheering. Flags of African nations, signs that said CELEBRATE FREEDOM and END POLICE BRUTALITY. Black Lives Matter. People on the street watching had noisemakers, tambourines, cowbells.

In these stilted, inside times, that’s what a rally is for: To make some noise. Remind people that you’re still here despite everything that’s tried to kill you. Stand up for the world you want to see, vital and alive. Inside that hall in Tulsa, half-empty though it was, people showed the world they wanted to see.

They roared with approval when he called the coronavirus “Kung Flu,” a racist nickname even one of his own senior advisers, Kellyanne Conway, once called “highly offensive.” Chants broke out of “lock her up,” evoking the 2016 presidential campaign, even as the Democratic Party has moved on from Mrs. Clinton. Some people wore Confederate flags. Others brought signs that supported the QAnon conspiracy theory that claims a “deep state” plot against Mr. Trump and his supporters. (One of the president’s sons, Eric Trump, posted a QAnon image to his Instagram page Saturday afternoon before deleting it shortly afterward.)

Trina Moore, 61, drove 10 hours from Denver to attend the rally. Her children are essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic, she said.

“I’ve been home all myself during quarantine and I wanted a reason to go somewhere,” Ms. Moore said. “I just don’t believe in the virus thing. I’d go to Europe. I’d get on a plane. I’d do whatever.”

Out on the street, around the corner from my house, things looked different.

People came to watch, in masks, and people drove their kids, holding signs that said “my life matters.” No one declared their intention to die in order to prove a point or defy science or make liberals angry. No one mentioned making anyone angry at all.

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A.

One thought on “To Rally

  1. czha says:

    I love your mini-teach-in and your celebration.

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