On March 15th, the Republican President, Donald J. Trump traveled to Nashville, Tennessee with the express purpose to connect with his base and pay homage to Andrew Jackson, a racist and genocidal maniac who engineered atrocities against Black and indigenous peoples including the “Trail of Tears.” Trump meticulously planned his visit to Nashville to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Jackson’s birth, celebrated at Jackson’s plantation home turned museum, “The Hermitage.” While there, Trump laid a wreath on his tomb to display his reverence to a man whose political machinations directly resulted in the deaths of 4,000 Cherokees displaced by the Indian Removal Act. Andrew Jackson was also a notoriously vicious slave owner, who would place ads in the local newspapers advertising reward money for the return of his runaway slaves. Jackson would frequently include an additional bounty of ten dollars for every hundred lashes given upon capture (capped payout at 300 lashes). That a sitting president would afford such esteem to this historical figure seems beneath the standards of human dignity.
Scores of Trumpeters from all corners of the state extolled the virtues of borders and the police state while unflinchingly allowing the GOP to slash their healthcare and redistribute wealth to the oligarchy.
Trump chose to visit our fine city as part of the GOP’s lingering Southern Strategy, to consolidate poor and working class white voters into a reliable voting base which can be manipulated through fear mongering and religious zealotry. However, Nashville (commonly referred to as the “Athens of the South” due to its richness in culture and art), is not a red city. Diverse, with robust biomedical research, burgeoning tech and insurance industries and in the shadow of a top twenty rated academic institution (Vanderbilt University), Nashville is a growing city filled with an educated working-class population. In the recent presidential election, over 59% of votes in its 161 precincts were cast for Clinton compared to 33% for Trump, making this city a democratic stronghold in the south. However, Tennessee is a deeply red state, and social media provided ample evidence that this rally would be a spectacular showcase of Trump’s racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, and xenophobic platform.
Scores of Trumpeters from all corners of the state took to Facebook and Twitter demanding unwavering fealty to their God Emperor, extolling the virtues of borders and the police state while unflinchingly allowing the GOP to slash their healthcare and redistribute wealth to the oligarchy. So what is an AntiFascist to do in the face of this monstrous encroaching evil?
We do not kiss the fucking ring. Not in Nashville. Not anywhere.
We took to the streets on the afternoon of March 15th in black bloc to show the fascist oligarchy that any attempt to subjugate us would be met with fierce resistance. Upon entering the public square, we were greeted by several groups of women’s rights activists who were curious about our attire, our flags, and our goals/core beliefs. We politely answered their questions then walked to the front of the Municipal Auditorium where a large crowd of MAGA supporters were gathered.
As we walked, our group was struck by the number of young folk excited to see us. “Look!!! It’s ANTIFA!!!! The Nazi punchers!” they cried. Some snapped selfies and photographs as we marched by. A handful of young folks ripped their shirts or scarves off, wrapped them around their heads and joined our ranks immediately in solidarity. We marched on, to the line of MAGA trolls wrapped around the venue. It was immediately apparent that a small contingent of LGBTQIA and “pussy hat” activists were surrounded by MAGA trolls. We pushed further into the crowd to reach them, and police began to surround us, admonishing us for existing in a crosswalk but doing nothing to ensure the safety of the counter protesters. Upon seeing us, two LGBTQIA protesters exclaimed, “Thank goodness you’re here. We were hoping would show up.”
As we walked, our group was struck by the number of young folk excited to see us. “Look!!! It’s ANTIFA!!!! The Nazi punchers!”
Our group coalesced with numerous other protest groups including women’s rights groups, Human Rights Campaign Nashville, advocates for sanctuary city status, and more. Most of the MAGA crowd refused to interact directly with us, and the small minority that did focused most of their energy attempting to bully or shame women in our group. A handful of the MAGA crowd were armed, as is usually the case in these protest scenarios involving the far-Right. Trump supporters shouted support for the KKK. In response, Nashville AntiFa brought an effigy of a hooded and disgraced KKKlansmen which was hung from a noose and beaten with the AntiFa flag before being displayed on a lamp post in the public square.
Interestingly, several MAGA fanatics brought their children out to “witness” the event; preaching the prosperity gospel of Christ the Capitalist in all of their camo-wearing grandeur. Mainstream media outlets such as the local Fox News syndicate captured their attempt to have a dialogue with the counter protesters. Nashville AntiFa were having none of their shit, and zero fucks were given on that day. These trolls were met head on, and drowned out with opposition free speech. This must be a continuous effort on our part to obfuscate their attempts to gain notoriety and access to a media platform to spew their hateful rhetoric.
Upon seeing us, two LGBTQIA protesters exclaimed, “Thank goodness you’re here. We were hoping would show up.”
As the evening progressed, the area surrounding the Municipal Auditorium filled with people protesting the Trump Rally. Ultimately, the crowd turnout for the rally was disappointing for the GOP, leaving entire sections of the auditorium empty. Furthermore, the crowd outside swelled to several thousand anti-Trump protestors, which he called “followers waiting for a chance to get inside.”
Anti-Trump activists arrived with musical instruments to set our chants to the beat of a snare or base drum. Liberals sang songs about love and peace while waving signs proclaiming “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. ~Dr. Martin Luther King.” A sentiment that has, unfortunately neutered the Left into thinking they can “love” the fascism, racism, or violence out of MAGA adherents. I look to my comrades and ask, “Do YOU want to join Van Jones’ Love Army?”
“No.” is the resounding response.
“Alright, then let’s go a different route,” I reply. And we walked into the night together.