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Protesters congregate in Copley Square Sunday, Jan. 29 to protest the immigration ban imposed by President Trump that denies people from seven majority Muslim countries to enter the United States.

Gag Reflex

January 29, 2017

President Trump signed an order that banned immigrants  from seven Middle Eastern countries on Jan. 27. The speed at which people were affected by the executive order was halting and sickeningly rapid. American citizens who were in the air when the order was signed suddenly were denied access into the country when they touched the ground.

From our own ground level, it seems that we can’t stop these executive orders from happening. The will of the executive branch is so far removed from the pleas and needs of so many American citizens. But the reaction is just as important as the action itself. While Trump may be able to place gag rules on the other two branches, he cannot stifle the electorate.

Here’s how we know: The outrage over the entry-ban has been visceral and protest followed almost as soon as the effects began.. When the news of the detainees was spread online, demonstrations erupted. There was fear that after the Women’s March, people would lose the desire to mobilize, to participate. This fear proved to be false as hundreds gathered outside major airports such as JFK and Dulles to publicly advocate for detained Middle Eastern Americans. In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh and Senator Elizabeth Warren joined crowds in Logan Airport, and a large-scale protest in Copley Square on Jan 29, which local news sources credited to the Council on American-Islamic Relations with its organization. These actions–duct-taping a ruler to a poster board to make a sign and chanting on a crowded street–are beginning to feel natural, habitual.

This second wave of protest is indication that many Americans have developed a reflexive instinct to combat the horrors slinking out of the White House. The publicity that these protests garner make it impossible for the administration to ignore them, or at least look idiotic while trying–I’m thinking about the photographic evidence that made it impossible to claim that the inauguration drew a larger crowd than the Women’s March on Washington. Though they may try, they cannot dispute the existence of thousands of protesters.

Though the positive effects of this new, immediate resistance are proudly noted, it is duly important to analyze where they are lacking. For example, police cooperation and support have helped these protests remain peaceful. Writer Jia Tolentino noted that the atmosphere created by police was noticeably different than, say, a Black Lives Matter protest, where they may show up in higher numbers and with more protective gear due to racial bias and prejudices. Though the marches have been diverse, White, cisgendered women have been given an elevated platform, leading many to forget inclusivity. Even within these new eruptions of activism, there is still systematic racism. It is crucial moving forward that White protesters realize their privileges, even in a space as radical and seemingly inclusive as a march.

The fire is being harnessed; action is being met with action. These demonstrations, which feel far more American to me than any legislation passed this month in Washington, are hopefully the first steps in a new era of grassroots change.

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