The destruction of Donald’s celebrity star has presented us with a question. Is it a meaningful protest, or just pointless vandalism?
Right now, it seems like there’s a search going on for the right way to protest, to say, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” Some people march, en masse, in the streets. Some, like yours truly, pen piece after furious piece. Some people take a different tack.
Austin Clay recently smashed to bits President Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with a pick axe. For added humour, James Otis, the man who was previously jailed for doing the same thing to Trump’s star in 2016, bailed him out, to the tune of $20,000.
According to a Vice article, Clay and Otis aren’t the only two who have taken out their frustrations on Trump’s star, with others spitting on it, defacing it with swastikas, and covering it in dog poop.
Former Hillary Clinton staffer and “proud Democrat” Cristina Lara took umbrage with the act on Twitter. She posted photos of someone whose job it clearly was to repair the star with the message, “Please think of the hardworking people forced to clean up the messes you leave behind.”
She then specifically said that “white people ought to think about which communities are impacted” by the act and not to add to “the immigrant struggle”.
But the message is kind of, for lack of a better word, dumb. Reactions varied from agreement to commenting on the condescending tone about knowing what’s best for various communities. The standout, at least in my opinion, was a tweet from someone named Ashley Lynch.
“They got paid, yes?” Lynch wrote, retweeting Lara’s photos. “Then smash the fucking white supremacist’s memorial again and call it job security.”
The message is clear: in what way is this affecting the man pictured in Lara’s photos other than he is at work? The process to fix the stars is labour-intensive, so at worst that’s a couple of days’ work outside. It’s no different to road-workers fixing potholes, or a financial planner fixing a monetary mess of your own making.
They got paid, yes?
Then smash the fucking white supremacist’s memorial again and call it job security. https://t.co/iGRbpk2dw0
— ᴏʜ ғᴜᴄᴋ ɪᴛ’s ASHLEY LYNCH (@ashleylynch) July 29, 2018
Americans, especially those that voted for Trump, are obsessed with the notion of “job security” and “bringing the jobs back”. Well, looks like the Walk of Fame repair crew just got theirs. How’s the rest of the country going?
Lynch then follows up her original tweet with a photo of people toppling Saddam Hussein’s monument with the comment, “When monuments to authoritarian fascists are toppled in other countries, you don’t hear a lot of cries of ‘but think about the poor workers who have to clean that up’. Just sayin’.”
And she’s not wrong. This whole kerfuffle plays into the civility argument, that liberals and leftists have to behave in a civilised and polite manner when confronting Republicans, racists, white supremacists and Nazis. “Don’t rock the boat,” the argument essentially says. “Just shake your head and calmly explain why they’re wrong.”
As if that will work on a young man holding a tiki torch and chanting, “Jews will not replace us.”
Destroying Trump’s star on the Walk of Fame is destructive, yes, and illegal; Clay immediately turned himself into police. But it’s also a valid form of protest. Stars are seldom given out on merit, at least not anymore. Although the charitable entity Hollywood Historic Trust maintains the stars, it costs $40,000 to get one. So, if you’ve got the money, and people might know your name, you can have one, too.
Although the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has resisted all attempts to remove stars in the past, including Trump’s and Bill Cosby’s, the continued assault may lead them to reconsider. The stars may be a landmark, but they only have intrinsic value so long as people care about whose on the walk.
People can’t, and shouldn’t, walk up to the White House front door and smash it down with a pick axe. Not only would that come across as way more threatening to the physical safety of the people inside, but that building is a historical artefact. Trump’s star on the Walk of Fame is not. All it is, is a representation of Trump’s ego.
There’s something symbolic and fitting about smashing something Trump paid money for for that ends up costing other people money to fix. Small victories, perhaps, but perhaps a perpetual rebuild of something is a better reminder than the approval ratings.