There had been no permit granted for a march, but we walked anyway, going the long way around the block, our signs eliciting honks from cars and trucks and mini-vans. I had come up from Petaluma solo but made marching friends soon enough, as you do. Kate, to whom I gave my extra super-bright pink pussycat hat. It fit her so well: I was thrilled to be sending the hat, hand-crocheted by my friend MaryBeth during those most worrisome first months of 2017, to carry the We Resist! We Persist! message onward.
And Miriam. We found ourselves walking companionably together, trying to work up some new chants and commiserating about the lack of good protest songs for this movement. Because, make no mistake, this is a movement. And a movement needs songs and chants. We tried to fit something into Country Joe and Fish’s song And it’s one-two-three, what are we fighting for -- but failed. Protest songs are truly specific to a time and place.
“It’s frightening how low this county has gone,” she said, as we turned the farthest corner and headed back around to the Post Office. “I’m an immigrant, came here in ‘51 – our family had spent 5 years waiting in refugee camps in Europe. I was 11. We truly thought the streets were paved with gold." As she talked, I heard that she had felt welcomed, she had felt safe coming to America. And now that was no longer so true. I recalled the images of vandalized Jewish cemeteries. In 2017. In America. The bomb threats to Jewish Centers across the country, including Marin.
She remembered what fascism smelled like, looked like, acted like. And she was smelling it again.