“Love trumps hate.”
This slogan — which liberals have taken as one of the primary forms of resistance to the highly intolerant, and albeit disgraceful behaviors and rhetoric of the current administration — is meant to encapsulate the left’s commitment to love, compassion, empathy and, most importantly, tolerance.
We live in an age that now seems defined by polarization and the emergence of long-held racist ideals. Ones that we had hoped were far in the past. (Though many knew were not after experiencing unthinkable experiences, such as the loss of loved ones by police and deportation of family members.) Thus, this notion of “love trumps hate” seems almost crucial in putting forth attitudes and rhetoric that can directly challenge the opposing reality, or at least lay the groundwork to do so.
Therefore, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaking on this campus feels to many — myself included — a direct threat to the mission that those who oppose the behaviors of the current administration have committed themselves to. From saying racial slurs to supporting legislation that I am personally opposed to, Sessions could not be farther from a person I find admirable in politics.
Despite all of my own personal feelings towards Sessions, I did not attend the protests that occurred as he was speaking in Lutkin Hall. While I am always quick to defend the efficacy of protest and the freedom that we have as U.S. citizens to speak up when we see injustice, the approach that we witnessed on Tuesday night — one that in recent years seems to be quite commonplace — is one that I find to be completely counter to the core beliefs of the Democratic party. It is ultimately a more problematic rather than effective version of protest.
As I walked past Lutkin on Tuesday night hearing people banging on its doors and shouting “Fuck Jeff Sessions,” I honestly felt quite disheartened and conflicted. How was I meant to reconcile my belief in freedom of speech for all individuals with my own moral qualms with Sessions’ message?
Just as any other American citizen has the inalienable right to assemble, express opinions and expose injustices within the highly flawed government, so too does Sessions — and other people like him who hold beliefs different from our own. Furthermore, the protesters who gathered outside of Lutkin on Tuesday night were completely within their right to raise their voices and perform one of the ultimate forms of civic duty through their assembly. The fault in the events that transpired on Tuesday night lay in the hatred and aggression that clouded the most important parts of a protest: why they were protesting and what did they hope to gain, aside from expressing their indignation.
In addition to the more boisterous protests intending to disrupt the event, there was also a group of student protestors assembled for the Night of Action at Northwestern University, a part-protest, part-civic-engagment event. To me, this group of students represented a far more compelling way of expressing their opposition to Sessions by encouraging people to register to vote and actively promoting the platforms that these students believed in.
What has been at stake in the Trump presidency, and what continues to hang treacherously by a thread, is the integrity of our democracy and the freedoms that we espouse as Americans. For those whose lives are touched directly by the despicable policies and racist, sexist and generally bigoted language of the Trump presidency, the only way to resist may seem to be through antagonism that forces leaders to listen. However, the demonization of the other side, for both Republicans and Democrats alike, has fostered such a hostile and toxic political environment that it is easy to forget the true meaning of “love trumps hate” amidst this antagonistic and chaotic social climate.
So, if we really want to inspire change and encourage resistance, we must ourselves demonstrate the power of meaningful and unified action, bolstered by a dedication to the love and tolerance that are markedly absent in the current administration. Instead of demonizing, yelling and expressing our anger, we must vote, support the people who give us faith in our government or organizations with a mission we stand by, mobilize those around us to care and inspire those around us to act. If we want to see change, we cannot just yell and bang our fists.
Editor's Note: The views presented in this story belong to the writer are not necessarily reflective of North by Northwestern as a whole. In addition, North by Northwestern's Opinion Editor was involved with the Night of Action and thus did not edit this article.
Thumbnail courtesy Wikimedia Commons.