When I first read those words I was instantly repulsed and excited at the same time. Repulsed because I think Trump is a vile, disgusting human being, excited because I thought I might get a chance to witness our little island, where many of our nation’s one percenters have their summer homes, come together in solidarity against the hatred that he represents, during a period of time that could prove to become a defining year in our nations history.
And witness I did!
It has been reported that between 250 and 500 people showed up to stand together and let their voices and opinions be heard in a peaceful protest against Trump’s visit to Nantucket.
Just outside the entrance of Quaise Pasture Road, the road that leads to the home of the hosts for Trump’s fundraiser, protesters lined the street holding clever home-made anti-Trump signs, cheering the cars driving by honking in support, and booing the cars turning in to attend the fundraiser. When Trump’s motorcade arrived, the entire crowd began chanting “Shame” over and over. Other than that, the amount of peace and love in the air was overwhelmingly palpable.
I’m grateful for getting the opportunity to document the energy of the protest yesterday. A couple of weeks ago the Trump campaign reached out to a handful of island photographers, myself included, to see if anyone was interested in working the event, taking photos of the attendees with Trump, and being able to produce copies of the photos on site to give to those individuals.
My first gut thought was ‘Hell No’. What a horrible way to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon! Even though the inquiry clearly stated that this was simply a business opportunity and not an endorsement of Trump, my initial reaction was still an overwhelming ‘No Way’.
Then I started thinking about it. I brought up the subject to friends and colleagues to get their opinions, and I started to think that it might be a good idea to do this after all. I mean, how often does one get the opportunity to photograph the most controversial and unqualified American Presidential nominee in modern history, at a private fund-raising event bringing in $50,000 a couple, in a multi-million dollar home on Nantucket? Not too often I would imagine.
Suddenly I had such mixed emotions running around my head. I wanted the job to be able to write about my experience afterward as a full on Trump Hating Liberal who got a peek from the inside. Do I express interest in the job and possibly get hired? If I do get hired will I ever get paid? What should I quote for my rates? Should I ask for $10,000 an hour since I don’t really want to do this? Will I get back-ground checked? How extensive will the Non Disclosure Agreement be that I’ll have to sign? Will I be able to keep my composure and anger in check for three hours surrounded by racists and narrow-minded bigots? Yes, yes, yes. I decided I wanted the job, the experience, the adventure, and as I began doing a little more research to draft a proposal, I came across this Trump fundraiser flyer:
Instantly all those those thoughts and mixed emotions were gone. $10,000 per person for a photo-op with Donald Trump?! $10,000 per person?! All that was left in my head were visions of $10,000 bills flying from the end of my lens into Donald Trump’s campaign piggy bank with every click of my shutter. That settled it. There was no way I was going to do this. There was no way I was going to contribute in anyway to this man’s campaign, even if indirectly. Final answer.
If you are reading this, you know by now that I am definitely not a Trump supporter. In the hours before the protest happened yesterday, I was at a coffee shop down town having a meeting with Gene Mahon of the famed Nantucket Mahon About Town blog and newsletter. We were discussing writing assignments, and the topic of ethics in journalism came up during the course of our conversation, and the consequence of writers and journalists including their personal opinions while reporting on news events in today’s political climate, especially in a microcosm like Nantucket. We both agreed that it is a very delicate balance here.
There is a very good chance that I might alienate potential clients here by weaving my personal opinions and views into my coverage of a political event like this, but I don’t care. I do think it is important for reporters, journalists and photographers to try and be as objective as possible when documenting news worthy events, but we have a voice too, and as journalists and reporters tend to be on the front line most of the time, witnesses to more than the average person ever is, I believe those opinions have merit and should be heard, regardless of where they stand on the issues. The way I look at it, in this case, with this election, with Trump, if someone chooses not to do business with me based solely on my political beliefs, then we both win. No amount of money is worth compromising my morals and values to do business with someone who can justify being a Trump supporter. It was also comforting to see colleagues who feel the same way. My proudest moment of the day was seeing the chief photographer of N Magazine, forgoing getting the ‘decisive shot’ of the Trump motorcade pulling in, to instead use his camera to help prop up his Trump Trash Can mere feet away from Trump’s SUV as it raced by. Kudos to you, brother!
I am so happy I ended up seeing that flyer. It afforded me the opportunity to be among like minded individuals and photograph them exercising their right to protest and have their voices be heard loud and clear in our little community, instead of maybe being stuck in a room with Trump and his most ardent supporters for a few hours.
Many thanks to my friend Ema Johnson, who along with Ian Bremmer (American political scientist and editor-at-large at Time), helped organize this great protest. Many thanks also to each and every man woman and child who showed up to support the idea of love and peace over hate and fear.
And finally, my favorite photos of the day- Trump leaving Nantucket!