Perhaps you first saw the phrase on Twitter.
Since the election of President Donald Trump, the phrase “the resistance” has often been employed to reference the various groups that oppose — and hope to in some way disrupt — Trump’s presidency. Mostly, it’s been used as a social media hashtag, though there is a blog titled “The DJT Resistance” with an accompanying (and more frequently updated) Facebook page.
Now, documentarian and political commenter Michael Moore has launched a website titled “The Resistance Calendar,” which allows anyone to post, as Moore phrased it, about “anti-Trump, pro-democracy” events in the United States.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Moore called the website a “place where you can quickly go and check it daily, ensuring that you don’t miss any event in your area to stop the Trump madness.”
It boasts a simple design — the main page is simply a list of events. Another page includes a form allowing users to post their own events, and a third includes a contact form. As of now, there are no other pages, though Moore promised upcoming features, such as a “killer map of the U.S. and a big desk-style calendar where you can just click on any day and see what’s happening with the movement across America.”
With the creation of the website, Moore seems bent on formalizing the phrase that’s been bubbling up since Trump announced his candidacy: The Resistance. As Moore wrote, it’s become a political movement. But it’s far from the first movement to use to the phrase as a moniker.
It was popularized as a political term during World War II, via France’s La Résistance .
Nazis poured into Paris in June, 1940, fulfilling the worst fears of many French residents — a German occupation. In an effort to invigorate the dispirited countrymen, general and leader of “Free France” Charles de Gaulle gave speeches on the BBC, encouraging the French to continue fighting in whatever way they could.
In one, he famously said, “I ask you to believe me when I say the cause of France is not lost … Whatever happens, the flame of French resistance must not and shall not die.”
With these words, as noted in the New York Times, du Gaulle began establishing La Résistance, a collection of disparate groups united only by their desire to fight for an unoccupied France. They published underground newspapers, kept safe houses and engaged in guerrilla warfare practices against their occupiers. Naturally, these acts often had dire consequences.
As Charles Kaiser wrote for CNN:
The French Resistance undertook nearly 1,000 acts of sabotage in the hours after the Normandy invasion began, and the damage they inflicted on railroads and other communications played a crucial role in preventing German reinforcements from arriving quickly in Northern France. And every time a German troop train was sabotaged, a nearby French village was likely to suffer horrendous retaliation — like the town of Tulle, where a hundred men where seized at random and massacred three days after the Normandy invasion, or the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, where 642 citizens, including 205 children, were killed the day after that. The men were shot; the women and children were burned to death in a church.
In May 1943, the groups were united under the National Council of Resistance.
According to Simon Adams’ “Occupation and Resistance,” “by 1944, the resistance had grown in strength to about 400,000 members.”
Other resistance movements throughout Europe began to appear, and the usage of “resistance” to refer to such a group stuck — even today. In a 2014 joint publication, the U.S. Department of Defense defined a “resistance movement” as “An organized effort by some portion of the civil population of a country to resist the legally established government or an occupying power and to disrupt civil order and stability.” The Oxford English Dictionary, meanwhile, defines “the resistance” as “The underground movement formed in France during the Second World War to fight the German occupying forces and the Vichy government.”
While the phrase is often used in reference to President Trump without explicit allusion to La Résistance, some have drawn the comparison. Some publications, such as Wired, cheekily employ the phrase when discussing anti-Trump movements. Others, though, are more straightforward.
Days after Trump’s election, Jennifer Boyer-Switala explained the La Résistance and wrote in the Huffington Post:
In light of our recent election, I look to General de Gaulle’s Speech of 18 June 1940 when I ask you to join me in lighting the flame of resistance. Let me be clear; I am not calling for, nor do I condone, violent or armed resistance, as it only serves to harm fellow human beings and validate claims that we are hypocrites. Nor am I calling for a coup d’état. On the contrary: I am calling for a coup de paix. My appeal is for Americans to engage in peaceful acts of resistance as a means of effecting positive change.
Meanwhile interest in the La Résistance has certainly grown since the election. Google searches for the “French resistance” spiked on Inauguration Day, according to Google’s search trends.
Moore seems to hope his new website will continue to stoke interest in political resistance.
He wrote he hopes the calendar will become “a 24/7 clearinghouse of the already MASSIVE resistance to Trump, to the Republican Congress, and, yes, to many of the spineless Democratic politicians out there, before concluding, “Our goal is his removal from office — and the defeat of any politician who isn’t with us. WE ARE THE MAJORITY.”