|Hashim K. Hashim/HKH.photography|
Got to admit that "freedom isn't free," a statement true on various levels, isn't a favorite cliche. It's been too tangled up lately with images of the U.S. flag, various military-related themes and patriotic chest thumping.
But I've been thinking of those words this week in conjunction with images of protests and demonstrations, peaceful and otherwise, across the United States following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Including this one, taken in Des Moines by Hashim K. Hashim (HKH.photography) and part of an amazing series of photographs shared on the Facebook page of The Blazing Saddle, Des Moines' venerable East Village gay bar.
It seems odd to have to point out that the United States was founded on civic unrest that occasionally turned violent and destructive. And that it took a civil war to end the institutionalized slavery that was the keystone in the economic arch supporting the new republic.
Demonstrations peaceful and otherwise propelled the nation forward toward the civil rights legislation enacted a century after that war, when I was a kid; demonstrations in effect ended the Vietnam War; demonstrations and protests are in large part responsible for civil rights protections more recently extended to LGBTQ+ folks; and without demonstrations and protests, America's white, heterosexual majority was for the most part in no hurry to battle an earlier pandemic, HIV/AIDS, that took the lives of so many gay men of my generation and spread unseen through the population as a whole.
So I'm encouraged by the current round of protests and demonstrations, now stretching around the world, in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of color; by the mix of young faces involved; and by the protesters' unwillingness to be intimidated by the often absurd paramilitary response of their disconcerted and previously complacent elders.
So here's to a new generation of trouble-makers, learning anew that freedom indeed is not free.