By George Payne
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
To passively accept the Trump agenda is to cooperate with evil. By evil, Dr. King always implied the forces of selfishness, pride, ignorance, and mercilessness that arise when the virtues of wisdom, love, compassion, and courage have been silenced.
With King’s prophetic words in mind, now is the time for the peace and justice community to respond with a unified, unambiguous, strategic voice of dissent against Donald Trump. Now is the time for creative disobedience and loving confrontation. It is not the time for mere passive disapproval and veiled complicity.
Since most people who oppose Trump are feeling incapacitated right now, the best way to overcome this sensation of helplessness is to do something constructive, hope inducing, and goal oriented with others. For expert help, the most prolific source of information about active nonviolence resistance is the work of Gene Sharp. (See more about Sharp’s methods at 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action.)
If I had to choose a few immediate actions from Sharp’s list, I would recommend assemblies of protest or protest meetings. Public assemblies empower those in attendance and send a message to the opposition that there is an active community which is working behind the scenes and on the front lines.
Secondly, I believe that ostracism of persons can be effective if done with the right intention. Social boycott of Trump’s products, selective social boycotts of companies that are in business with Trump, and a variety of symbolic nonaction days can all have a powerful effect.
Thirdly, I would recommend action by holders of financial resources. Withdrawal of bank deposits, refusal to pay fees, dues, and assessments, refusal to pay debts or interest, severance of funds and credit, revenue refusal and even refusal of government money can be potent forms of resistance.
Last but not least, peace and justice organizations should be mobilizing their members and constituents to physically intervene by engaging in sit-sins, stand-ins, ride-ins, wade- ins, mill-ins, and pray-ins.
There are so many ways to actively oppose Donald Trump by using nonviolent civil resistance, that perhaps the most consequential act is to do nothing at all. As King put it: “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Finger Lakes Community College