Scores of writers protest Trump on Martin Luther King Day
Four days away from his now all-but inevitable inauguration, the winds of protest are still howling strong against President-Elect Donald Trump. In recent weeks, the incoming President has become more of a magnet for controversy than ever, sparring with civil rights icon and congressman John Lewis and lashing out at the press over reports of compromising information from Russia. On Monday, numerous authors braved the cold outside the New York Public Library in protest of Trump. According to a report by Haaretz, the writers included Art Spiegelman, Robert Pinsky, and Michael Cunningham, to name a few. The writers quoted samplings from the work of musician Frank Zappa and beat poet Allen Ginsburg, among others.
“Our focuses used to be violation of freedom of the speech that happen abroad,” PEN America president Andrew Solomon said. “We never dreamed that we would be turning our attentions at home, at the level we now need to.” Solomon then drew a startling comparison between Trump and some of history’s most brutal dictators, such as Chairman Mao and Josef Stalin, whom he noted targeted intellectuals “whose words might form an opposition.” The message was clear: Trump poses a grave and unparalleled threat to democracy and freedom of speech.
In a poem addressed to his “fellow dissidents,” poet and literary critic Robert Pinsky read that America was undergoing “a moment of charismatic indecency. Charismatic indecency and sanctimonious falsehood beyond shame. Our polish grandfather Milosz and our African American grandmother Brooks endured worse than this. First fight then fiddle, she wrote.” Pinsky ostensibly referred to Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, named a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1989, and Pulitzer Prize-winning American writer Gwendolyn Brooks.
According to Huffington Post, Monday’s “literary protest” was prepared by PEN America, an organization whose goal is protecting freedom of expression in the United States and abroad. The event, titled “Writers Resist: Louder Together for Free Expression,” featured chants such as “Writers, Resist,” and “United Together,” and concluded with a march to Trump Tower, according to Haaretz. The protest is only one of many that have swept major cities since November 8. A massive demonstration, titled “The Women’s March on Washington,” is planned for Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, with hundreds of thousands of protesters expected to descend on the capital, Chicago Tribune reported.