A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
In this dark time of too-few heroes, we pay tribute to Juli Briskman, a working 50-year-old single mom to two teenagers in Virginia who was out biking and brooding on the ruinous state of the nation last week when the cretin responsible for much of it drove by in his motorcade from yet another golf game. A graduate of Ohio State, Johns Hopkins and Georgetown University, Sunday School teacher and part-time yoga teacher who spent years working abroad in the U.S. State Department before taking a job as a marketing and communications specialist at government contractor Akima LLC, Briskman did what any true patriot would – she gave the cretin the finger, a well-deserved “American Majority Salute.” At the next intersection, while the cars idled, she gave him another. “He was passing by, and my blood just started to boil,” she said. “I’m thinking, DACA recipients are getting kicked out. He pulled ads for open enrollment in Obamacare. Only one-third of Puerto Rico has power…And he’s at the damn golf course again.”
Expressing as it did the all-done-in mood of the country, a photo of her inspired moment quickly went viral; Briskman posted it on her Facebook page without comment or ID. Because what First Amendment these days, it didn’t take long for Akima, which gave money to Trump, to fire her for allegedly violating a company social media policy banning “lewd” or “obscene” material – though she was on her own time, and it didn’t likewise fire a male employee for a recent Facebook post calling someone a “fucking Libtard asshole.” Brinkman has contacted the ACLU, but she has no regrets and hopes to find work she believes in, perhaps with Planned Parenthood. She’s never been an activist – “I think I gave money for clean water once” – but during the Women’s March she held a “Not My President” sign and she’s “angry about where our country is right now. I am appalled. This was an opportunity for me to say something.” Many are with her; from Twitter, “She’s appalled and she is not alone.” Hailed as a shero and “shining example to all Americans,” she’s already inspired a GoFundMe page, the hashtag #Her2020, and many calls to help her out. “Juli needs a job,” reads one admiring post, “and she deserves it for making us happy.”
First published in Common Dreams.