A monument dedicated to women on the site of the largest complex of buildings owned exclusively by women seems like it would be a great place to stop and pay some respect during the Women’s March, doesn’t it?
It was, if you define paying respect by climbing up the monuments to slap on signs, clothing, and hanging crap off of the outstretched hands. If respecting the property means stomping over flower beds, kicking the greenery up, pushing through the bushes, leaving trash strewn about, and apparently also smearing paint on statues, then sure, lots of respect was paid to the monument and buildings owned by women. (The paint apparently isn’t visible in the videos below because they were shot after signs were placed on top, but I’ve seen it mentioned by several who visited the site later.)
The buildings owned exclusively by women since the empty city block across from the White House lawn was purchased more than 100 years ago – before women could even vote in this country – and are home to the Daughters of the American Revolution. DAR is non-partisan and apolitical. I know women in the group who are far more conservative than I’ll ever be and far more liberal than I’ve ever been. And yet we have a few things in common – a sense of respect for American history and values, and we’re always volunteering for something in our communities.
In fact, the monument that was “decorated” by the marchers is dedicated to the founders who spelled out that DAR was supposed to be a community service organization. Our current goal for recorded service in our community is 19 million hours collectively doing meaningful service – not writing checks or showing up to a gala for a cause – in 3 years. The 19 number comes from the fact that our final year of recording hours will be the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment.
I’ve seen marchers defend the mess they left on sidewalks by saying that the City wanted to handle clean up so they wouldn’t have as many trashcans that could be a security risk. Assuming that’s accurate, this mess is not on a sidewalk. In fact, much of it is not even on concrete. It’s in bushes and dropped over gardens. It’s on private property that women have to pay to clean. So all those complaints about the gender wage gap? A man is on video calling for people to leave their trash that women who make less will have to pay to have cleaned. That flower he laughs about kicking out of the ground, sure it’s just one bloom. But those gardens are paid for by women. So much for respect.
Inside those halls, if the people in the video had any interest in history, they would find a museum that primarily runs exhibits relating to women’s connections to history and craft. They would find collections put together by volunteers and staff (paid by women) dedicated to documenting the rich history that covers this country’s recent immigrants to the Revolution’s minority patriots. They would find out about how a group of women raised money to plant entire forests in every state – many of which are still preserved public green spaces today. Instead of actually showing even a reasonable level of respect for those efforts, they spread paint on our monuments and leave their trash behind as a “shrine” for women to clean up. (At least a past national officer reported that the paint seems to have been water based and was removed without further damaging the statue.)
But I have to say that it’s not just the marchers who left their trash behind in an effort to force non-partisan groups into partisan political debates, it’s also the reaction afterwards. Needless to say, the images of this vandalism have been shared widely in various DAR groups online. Some of the liberal members of the group are trying to put a positive spin on the intention, but also recognize that this is a man who is organizing some level of vandalism on our statues and that it will require women’s funds to clean up. I have seen some who have asked their fellow marchers to contribute to those expenses by donating to the DAR’s building maintenance fund in recognition of the fact that it wasn’t appropriate to leave everything behind for a private, non-political group that wasn’t involved to clean up.
Then there are those members who participated who I’ve seen demanding women who share information about the clean up efforts be banned from the organization. Their argument being that DAR is non-political, so a post about cleaning up the trash and paint left on our property by a political march is considered political because it makes their cause look less than perfect. Newsflash ladies, every movement has a**holes. If you’ve been involved in real grassroots action before, you know this. Call them out on their bad behavior and do what you can to correct that image. Instead, they want to silence those who are expressing disappointment in bad behavior. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to believe that a shared American value should include that even when you’re passionate about an issue, trespass and vandalism of private property is inappropriate.