Resistance, Ady Barkan, and the Path Forward
Nearly every day in America, for the past two-and-one-half years, has felt surreal in the nightmare sense, as if we entered an alt-right universe of distortion and corruption, undiluted racism and sexism solidly grounded in profound ignorance. The petty, mean tyranny of Donald J. Trump as president has brought out the very worst in American life. Neo-Nazis, KKK, and misogynists suddenly felt comfortable in their ugly skin again, ready to spread hate and fear, violence and lies, incited by their commander in chief. Unfettered greed and cruelty as national policy—we have not seen since the days of internment camps during World War II—have come on the scene as we watch kidnapped children put into cages by government dictate and policy. Even writing Trump’s name, combined with his office, is antithetical to decency, causing anxiety and despair.
Yet, there is hope. Certainly, the Women’s marches of 2017, 2018, and 2019 showed us the face and force of resistance to all things Trump. Individually and collectively, women really stepped up. They ran for office, ran campaigns, spoke up and out. The mid-term 2018 elections offered promise and, once again, the as-yet-untapped potential of our country with the greatest number of women and women of color signing in as new legislators in the House of Representatives. Democrats, for all their infighting and questioning of one another, finally took control of the House after years of Republican stranglehold on the body politic.
Sometimes it is the individual action and sacrifice, however, that helps us continue to aspire and endure. We need heroes and heroines in this time of dangerous demagoguery more than ever. Who should step into this fray but lawyer and activist Ady Barkan. An advocate for social justice who works for the Center for Popular Democracy, Barkan has been arrested for his spirited protests eight times in the relatively short—yet agonizing—span of time Trump has been in in the Oval Office.
It is tough to put yourself on the line, face arrest, humiliation, job loss, injury, even death for your country. While soldiers do this every day, they are also surrounded by comrades and are paid—poorly—for their service.
Barkan’s fight for our democracy is entirely voluntary. What makes Barkan’s daily battle against the forces of tyranny the more remarkable is he is dying of ALS. He has a toddler son and a wife, Rachael. He has a life even with this devastating disease, but he is giving everything to the cause of Resistance. Barkan is a potent reminder of good, of the heroic. America is worth saving. We can all give a little more.
Nancy Avery Dafoe