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Panel of political experts discuss resistance in the age of Trump

Ralph Nader attends “Trumping Trump: New Waves and Directions for Resistance” Wednesday afternoon at the Old South Church. PHOTO BY MEGHANA PATNANA/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Activists gathered at the Old South Church near Copley Square Wednesday to discuss the rise of the new resistance movement with discussion facilitated by a panel of political activists.

The event, called “Trumping Trump: New Waves and Directions for Resistance,” was inspired by “Welcome to the Revolution,” a book by Charles Derber, a sociology professor at Boston College. 

Ralph Nader, former Green Party presidential candidate and progressive political organizer, who joined in on the panel, said people who identify with the universalist resistance agenda are not motivating each other to make significant changes like they used to.

“We need to push each other,” Nader said. “Not in a mean way but a motivating way. That’s what the students did in the ‘60s. It never took more than one percent of the students who were seriously dedicated but they represented the increasing majority of student opinion on civil rights, environment, anti-Vietnam war.”

Derber said on the panel the definition of resistance is a set of movements challenging the overall political, economic, cultural, racial and gender-based systems the country and the world face today.

Derber said different social movements should unite on eliminating nuclear weapons now more than ever.

“[Global Zero] should be something that people go to bed with on their mind: how do we deconstruct this incredibly central movement for peace?” Deber asked the audience.

Derber said the resistance needs to unify and mobilize quickly for there to be any hope for future generations.

“This is not fun and games,” Derber said. “We have maybe a couple of decades to get this right. We’re talking about the life and death of humanity and if we don’t get our resistance ideas straight, the young people who are in this audience, who I love and I think carry so much potential for a good and loving world, are not going to have the opportunity.”

Jason Lowenthal, a member of Global Zero, said during the panel the organization aims to eradicate nuclear weapons across the world, and is currently focused on supporting the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. This act would prohibit the president from mobilizing the armed forces to carry out a first-use nuclear strike on another country until he or she has received an official declaration of war from Congress authorizing the attack. 

“This is a hot button issue,” Lowenthal said. “Tensions on the Korean Peninsula [and] tensions in Iran and South Asia makes this issue more important than ever and more deserving of our attention than ever and hopefully now that there is renewed attention on it, we’ll be able to get movement on the issue and end nuclear proliferation.”

Several residents who attended the panel expressed interest in the subject matter, but said they were disillusioned about how to translate words into action.

Titi Odedele, a senior at Boston College, said though she appreciated the panel, she was skeptical about some of the goals of the resistance movement.

“That’s something that really preoccupies me: the likelihood of getting 50 percent of the country or more to be like, ‘Yes, we should act and live intersectionally.’ It seems really unlikely,” Odedele said.

Odedele said she enjoyed Derber’s book and wanted to learn more about the intersectionality of social justice movements, which she tries to model her own life after.

David Lewit, 91, of Back Bay, said he is interested in the subject of organizing people in the masses but emphasized the difficulty of getting things done in local government.

“You really have to work on your congress member or your political organization,” Lewit said. “These people are incredibly busy and plagued by dozens and hundreds of lobbyists and citizen groups, so you get very little time if you get any.”

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