April 4, 2020
The Purim Principle
What I wish we could do right now is dust off our pussy hats and pour into the streets to protest Trump’s criminally dysfunctional response to the coronavirus pandemic. And we also need to loudly condemn the things he’s doing while he thinks we’re too distracted by our dying neighbors to notice (like his Friday evening firing of Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community watchdog who informed Congress of the Ukraine whistleblower’s complaint).
However, we can’t pour into the streets (even with pussy face-masks) because we’re social distancing. Nor can we declare a nationwide strike because most of us have either lost our jobs or we’re working from home.
Still, I feel like we’ve got to send a message, one that says that we see what Trump is up to and we’re not buying what he’s selling. I feel like we’ve got to make noise.
I started thinking about Purim. The Jewish holiday has come and gone (it was March 10) but its rituals might prove useful. Purim is one of the more entertaining Jewish holidays. It doesn’t involve an endless religious service followed by a dinner of gefilte fish and boiled meat. Instead it’s a raucous event that demands the repeated use of noisemakers. On Purim, the Rabbi reads the Megillah, aka the Book of Esther, in which the second wife (secretly Jewish) of a Persian king reveals a plot by Haman, the King’s villainous advisor, to murder all the kingdom’s Jews. Esther prevails and Haman is hung from the very gallows he’d erected to hang Esther’s benevolent uncle Mordechai.
During the reading of the Megillah, every time Haman’s name is mentioned, everyone in the synagogue — especially the children — do their best to drown it out with noisemakers.
I feel like Trump is our Haman. He isn’t specifically trying to kill the Jews. It’s more like he — through his inability or unwillingness to take effective action against the coronavirus — is trying to kill a lot of us, including the elderly, city dwellers, health care workers, first responders, those without health insurance, the poor, and anyone with a so-called “underlying condition.”
There’s been a lot of talk on Twitter about how the networks should stop broadcasting his nightly “task force” updates because they contain more disinformation than facts, and because they allow Trump to pretend, unconvincingly, that he’s in command of the situation. It’s also been suggested that we simply refuse to watch.
I think boycotting the Trump show is a good idea, but we need to make it obvious that we’re not watching by drowning it out. My scheme is simple; we apply the Purim Principle. We turn on the nightly task force press conference and the second Trump steps up to the podium, we turn it off. We rush to our stoops, our roof tops, our balconies and fire escapes, or open windows and we –especially children — make noise. We bang on pots, smash cymbals, wail on the trombone, shred on the electric guitar, sing, yell, play kazoos, twirl our Purim graggers, or, like our friends in Italy, jam on our accordions. We collectively make as much noise and as much music as we can for as long as we can (while still maintaining optimum social distance).
We start in one neighborhood — Park Slope, Brooklyn for example — and record the proceedings on our phones. We post clips on social media and encourage people in other neighborhoods and cities to do the same. I’m not sure what impact the cacophony might have politically, but it would be fun and a good, sane, non-virtual way to feel connected to one another.
What do you think?