The Blowtorch and the Candle

At the end of her speech at the Woman’s March, Madonna voiced an impolitic urge to blow up the White House. She was angry, but this was not the concerning remark. Madonna went on to reference W.H. Auden’s statement, on the eve of World War II, that we must love one another or die. Unfairly or not, that may be the liberal piety that unmoors us. Love certainly matters in fighting hate, and may be especially important in preserving some light in our lives when darkness descends (as it surely has). Love must be part of the long game. But in the short run, love will do little to help us. And for this reason, Madonna was also correct to recognize and give voice to her righteous anger. Because without anger to steel us, institutionalized hate will attack and consume love the way a blowtorch attacks a candle. Here’s the full text of her speech.

Hello. Are you still awake out there? Are you sure about that? Can you hear me? Are you ready to shake up the world? Welcome to the revolution of love — to the rebellion and our refusal as women to accept this new age of tyranny. Where not just women are in danger, but all marginalized people. Where being uniquely different right now, might truly be considered a crime. It took this horrific moment of darkness, to wake us the fuck up. It seems we have all slipped into a false sense of comfort — that justice would prevail and good would win. Well. Good did not win this election. But good will win in the end.

So what today means is that we are far from the end. Today marks the beginning. The beginning of our story. The revolution starts here — the fight for the right to be free to be who we are, to be equal. Let’s march together through this darkness and with each step, know that we are not afraid. That we are not alone. That we will not back down. That there is power in our unity and that no opposing force stands a chance in the face of true solidarity.

And to our detractors that insist this march will never add up to anything, fuck you. Fuck you. It is the beginning of much needed change. Change that will require sacrifice, people. Change that will require many of us to make different choices in our lives. But this is the hallmark of revolution. My question to you today is, “Are you ready?” I said, “Are you ready?” Say, “Yes, we’re ready!” Say, “Yes, we’re ready!” One more time, you’re ready! Yes, I’m angry.

Yes, I’m outraged. Yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House (but I know that this won’t change anything). We can’t fall into despair. As the poet W.H. Auden once wrote on the eve of World War II, we must love one another or die. I choose love. Are you with me? Say this with me. We choose love. We choose love. We choose love.

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