About 30 people lined up in front of the Inquiring Mind book store Wednesday afternoon, October 19, most to protest a window display of books about Donald Trump, white supremacy and Hitler, below the legend in large print, “Trump, Make American hate again,” with a large flag with a swastika insignia. A handful supported the store owner, Brian Donoghue.
Angie Minew, second vice chair of the Saugerties Conservative Party, who organized the rally, said she was pleased with the turnout, given that she had first called for people to turn out only on the morning of the rally, October 19. “I put this together at 6 a.m. today, so it’s a good turnout; absolutely fantastic. As a community we need to stand up for the things we believe in.”
While many of the protesters carried signs supporting Trump, Minew and many others carried hand lettered signs with slogans like “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet,” and “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not,” a quote from Doctor Seuss.
Minew said she supports the right of anyone to speak his mind, but the display of the swastika with Trump’s books below it “is not a great way to do this. In particular, a copy of an email Donoghue received, starting with F*** you, should not be posted in a store window that children pass frequently on their way to and from school.” The statement was included in a list of emails the bookstore has received since putting the display in the window.
Donoghue gave his reasons for the display. “I have been watching Trump rallies, and this was Nazi Germany,” Donoghue said. “Washing it was not doesn’t serve any function.” As he spoke, several customers stopped to thank him for putting up the display.
Donoghue said he supports the right of the protesters to be there, though they have not shown up previously, even though the sign has been up for three weeks. But, he told Minew, “I was motivated by the level of hatred I felt coming from Trump. It reminds me of the brown shirt movement in Germany.”
Would Donoghue sell the books by Trump displayed in his window? “I’m a businessman,” he said. “I’m in the business of selling books; I’m not censoring them.”
While Minew deplores the language and symbolism of the signs in the bookstore, she said, she believes the people who supported the bookstore had every right to be there. “I’m standing in the middle, not on either side; Charlie is a good guy and I support his right to express himself.” She was speaking of Clinton supporter Charles Potter.
Potter commented “I believe the sign should be there; it’s freedom of speech. The owner of a bookstore has the right to demonstrate his beliefs in any way he chooses.”
Robert Morales, a demonstrator, put his criticism of the Democrats, and especially the Clintons, in stronger terms. “They have no morality; they want to control the government. I would vote to send Hillary to prison (if that were on the ballot).” He started a chant of “Hillary for Prison,” but it was short lived.
Jules Taylor disputed Minew’s claim that the event was non-partisan. “She is an aspiring politician and well known as Trump supporter,” he said. “She says she organized this protest as a non-partisan event, but I believe she organized it for 3 p.m. when kids are leaving school.” Indeed, a stream of children passed by the rally at 3 p.m. when school let out.
“The swastika is offensive to every religion,” said Frank Rea. “Millions of people have died under it.” Rea also recalled Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s words to Richard Nixon in 1959:”We will not fire a missile; you will self destruct from within.” That prophecy could come true, he said, but “Trump is here to prevent that.”
While the gathering sometimes became noisy, it remained peaceful, and at times the Trump supporters and their opponents stood beside each other in the lines.