By Matthew La Fontaine
I was born in Ohio and went to college in Indiana. The twists and turns of life led to me moving to Poland, where I’ve now lived for the last 15 years. In that time I’ve got married, had kids, bought a home, graduated from law school, and received Polish citizenship.
So when Donald Trump announced he was coming to Poland, I knew I had to go to Warsaw and protest. For two reasons: the first is because I feel sick when I see the havoc he is wreaking on America. Whether it’s the destruction of Obamacare, an imperfect system but one far better than what came before it, or the erosion of protections for the natural environment, or the departure from any and all civilized standards of conduct as President, everything Trump and his cronies has done in office arouses a deep-seated need to resist.
The second reason is one that touches me even more directly: I am terrified by the prospect of Poland’s right-wing nationalist government aligning itself with a Trump administration that will first strengthen the current government’s grip on the country, and then sell it to Moscow for the first gold ruble. Poland is my home, and I can’t just sit by idly as my home is under attack by authoritarian forces from both the inside and outside.
Attack by authoritarian forces: this is the reason why people in Poland decided to protest against Trump. Women protested in handmaid’s costumes because of the threat presented to reproductive rights and the more general assault on their dignity coming from both Trump and his partners in the Polish government. More broadly, we all protested against Trump’s attempt to drive a wedge between Poland and the rest of Europe. A strong, united, democratic Europe is Poland’s only real home for lasting peace and prosperity – this is something Trump neither understands nor cares about.
Beyond all that, Trump and the type of politics he represents is a tremendous cancer on American society, a slap in the face to values like solidarity and liberty, and ultimately a threat to peace in the world.
As if that weren’t motivation enough to resist, my mother, who moved to Poland about 2 years ago to be here with her son and granddaughters, told me that she wouldn’t forgive me if we didn’t go together. My mother sat in the car for the 200-mile drive to Warsaw without complaint in spite of having two artificial hips that make it difficult for her to sit for long periods, but also to move around. She did it because as a woman she feels a duty to defend the dignity of women everywhere against the chauvinism Trump wears like a badge of pride.
So in Warsaw we had our chance to holler and raise hell just a few hundred feet away from Trump, and we took it. When you get that kind of opportunity, as an American you simply have to stand up and be counted.