Standing up for your beliefs is always worth it

By Ashvini Malshe, Columnist

To protest is to stand for something. It isn’t inherently violent or non-violent; it’s a choice, and a passionate one at that. As an American citizen, it is your constitutional right to protest. However you carry that out, of course, is up to you. And the consequences, due to the nature of the beast, are also your responsibility.

However, the beauty of protesting is that the cause is also up to you. Whether it’s animal rights, reproductive rights or civil rights, what you protest for or against is a right that cannot be taken away from you, and certainly not by people in positions of authority who may intimidate you.

Recently, a woman from Northern Virginia named Juli Briskman was riding her bike down a cycling path. It just so happened that during that exact same time, President Donald Trump’s motorcade was driving down that trail as well. Briskman, as of late, has been devastated by the state of Trump’s America, so that day, she decided to give him the bird as she passed by his fleet of sleek, black vehicles.

It’s safe to say that the photo captured of the incident went viral. However, after catching wind of her actions and after identifying herself as the woman in the photo to her employers, her place of work, a government contracting firm called Akima, decided to fire her. They deemed her behavior to be in direct violation of the company’s social media-related code of conduct that punishes “inflammatory” activity.

What was odd, though, was that when she gave Trump the bird, she wasn’t near the vicinity of her workplace, she didn’t wear anything representing the company logo and her name and face weren’t accurately identified.

Why was she fired then? It’s hard to say. Perhaps the company she worked for didn’t want to be the source of any controversy during an already contentious political time.

Or maybe, the company supported the Trump campaign and used the code of conduct as a means to make a point. It’s interesting to point out that a senior director within the same firm made “inflammatory” remarks regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, and when he was reported, he was not fired.

But these are just my assumptions. And it’s never good to assume. So I won’t.

My point is this: The company’s treatment of Briskman was unfair. Nothing about the picture of her act screamed terror or misconduct.

From an objective point of view, the picture of the momentous act is humorous at best. Further, considering the fact that Briskman wasn’t a Trump supporter, she may have considered the act of lifting her middle finger up in the air a protest.

She didn’t like Trump, so in that moment she felt like she needed to act, needed to take a stand, so she did the most passionate thing she could conjure up in that moment.

She nonverbally stood up to him, which I’m sure was difficult. No matter our beliefs, can you imagine seeing a public figure like that and making the active decision to tell him that his presence is, essentially, unwanted?

I can’t. It’s intimidating to stand up to someone, even in the way she did, because there are consequences and people in positions of power tend to silence those from doing so.

But despite this trail of logic, she protested President Trump, and therefore, I think she’s brave. Huff and guffaw all you want, but it is absolutely undeniable that she was only exercising a right: a right to protest against what she saw as intolerable, which was the presence of Trump in her home state.

So to me, this woman is a hero. Who knows, I might even do the same thing one day.

Will it be worth getting fired from a future job? Standing up for what I deem to be right is always worth it. 

When asked if she regretted her actions, Briskman said she would “do it again.”

Ashvini is a senior in LAS.

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