New Yorkers Have a Duty: Be Rude to the Trumps
Don't stop your dog from barking at them. Don't take their money. If you're making coffee for them, make it wrong.
The Trump family on election night. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Last week, Donald Trump was elected president by the United States. But he wasn't elected by New Yorkers. In his hometown, Trump has for years been regarded as a clown—a tabloid regular, a Howard Stern sideshow, a reality TV star without the class of a Real Housewife. Fewer than one in five New York City voters cast ballots for Trump; his support here was mostly limited to Staten Island, Hasidic Williamsburg, and other rare bastions of conservatism in the nation's liberal cultural capital.
Trump was born and raised in New York, which seems strange, since he's opposed to so much of what the city represents—the melding of immigrant cultures, the grime and struggle that has produced so much great art, the tolerance of difference. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free," says the Statue of Liberty. "Build that wall," says Donald Trump.
Yet even after he assumes office on January 20, Trump reportedly still wants to spend much of his time in the city, in his massive apartment in Trump Tower, even though he's widely despised in Manhattan, and even though his presence there would lead to incredibly inconvenient street closures. No one can stop him from living in his home—it's a free country, especially if you're rich—but his neighbors can, and should, do everything in their power to make him and his family (who enable and support his noxious views) feel uncomfortable here.
New Yorkers, it's time to do what we do best. It's time to start a nonstop protest campaign of rudeness against Trump and his brood.
The best part of New York is that it's a city that speaks its mind. People here will tell you if you are in their way, if you are doing something wrong, if you are being an asshole. If we respect Trump out of patriotism or out of reverence for the office he's about to hold or out of politeness, we are letting down the values that make New York great. Trump is an asshole, and so are his kids. Let's tell them that.
This project has already begun. Eric Trump was harassed by teens on the street last week. Three buildings bearing the Trump name have had those five noxious letters removed because residents complained. New Yorkers have built a wall of Post-It notes inside a subway station expressing shock and anxiety and rage at the election results. But we can do more.
If you see a Trump, say something. Specifically, say, "Fuck you!" Say, "Get out of this city!" Tell Donald he is a disgrace. Tell Melania that she will go down in history as the enabler of a bully, a liar, and a coward. Tell Donald Jr. he is a racist and an idiot. Tell Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, that they are enablers of anti-Semitism. Also tell Ivanka that her attempts to turn presidential interviews into chances to hawk her gaudy, overpriced jewelry are tacky and pathetic. Tell Tiffany—who is less involved with her father's activities than her half-siblings—that if she doesn't speak out against her family, she is complicit in the hateful rhetoric they and their supporters spread.
The president is not a king, the Trumps are not royalty; you are not under any obligation to put up with their bullshit. If you own a deli or a restaurant, refuse to serve any Trumps. If you wait on the Trumps, you have to give them their food or you'll likely be fired, but you can give them back their tip. If you see Jared and Ivanka at a gala, or Eric in a corporate box at a Giants game, don't acknowledge them. If people applaud the Trumps, like those patrons at Club 21, counter that applause with boos. If you make them coffee, give them cream when they ask for soy, and vice versa. Don't stop your dog from barking at them. Don't take their money. Don't sit down at a dive bar with Ivanka. Don't commit any crimes—refrain from any actual violence like the disgraceful subway attack on the man with the Make America Great Again hat—but the First Amendment, people, we can make it clear to the Trumps that they don't own the city.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, to his credit, has promised to resist Trump's administration in any way possible, including deleting the database of personal information of the 850,000 New Yorkers with IDNYC cards, many of whom are undocumented immigrants. He also joined other Democratic mayors around the country who have vowed to keep their towns "sanctuary cities" for undocumented immigrants. Other politicians can similarly use their platforms to denounce Trump; City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has been denouncing him consistently and loudly.
Regular citizens, sadly, don't have the power to do too much. We've voted against Trump, we've written the Facebook posts expressing grief or rage, we've donated to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, we've taken to the streets in protest. Artists are making anti-Trump art, students are walking out of classes to chant slogans, everyone is reminding themselves and others that Trump and his incoming administration are not normal. None of that is going to stop Trump from doing what he's going to do.
Being a jerk to Trump or his kids isn't going to stop them either. But it might make them feel bad for just a split second, it might wear on them and, in time, cause them to question what they're doing. It will, if nothing else, remind them over and over that the city they call home does not share their values, and remains angry at what they have done to this country. If you live in New York, you have a far better chance than the average person to see the Trumps around. If you do, don't waste your chance to tell them how you feel.
Follow Harry Cheadle on Twitter.