Friday, June 5, 2020

What do protests do? Quite a bit

Protest march at the 2016 Republican National Convention

     So what do these protests do?
     Good question. Space is limited, so let’s get to it.
     Six purposes:
     1). Protests provoke the wrong being protested, flushing it into the light. Civil rights demonstrations worked because Southern sheriffs broke out the dogs and firehoses and showed America exactly what these marchers were talking about. Had they broken out trays of pralines instead, we might still have segregated lunch counters. Protests against police brutality wouldn’t be half as dramatic if some police didn’t, on cue, start being brutal, on camera, blasting peaceful protesters with tear gas. Not many — most showed admirable professionalism and restraint. But it only takes a little spit to spoil the soup.
     2). Protests benefit the protesters themselves. Not content to sit at home watching Netflix after — oh, for instance — a police officer is captured on video slowly strangling a black man who may have passed a bogus $20 bill, they leap up, make signs, pour into the street, march, raise their voices. They’re doing something. True, the problem being protested is never fixed by the end of the day. But it isn’t as if they didn’t try. So points for trying; it’s more than most do.
     3). Protests are informational. The “If the czar only knew” aspect. At the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago, young people covered themselves in chocolate syrup and lay in the street to draw attention to the oil sands situation in Canada. I had never heard of the oil sands situation in Canada before, nor thought of it since. But they did raise the issue.
Is that happening now? Are there really people watching TV, thinking, “What’s this about? Police brutality? Tell me more.” Probably. Never underestimate the vast ignorance of the American people; doing that is like assuming you can wade across the Atlantic Ocean.


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5 comments:

  1. "like trying to fix a smudge on your cheek by polishing the mirror."

    Excellent! Though when it comes to the election, it would be easier to polish the mirror (vote Trump out) than fix the smudge of there being 40-some-percent of the electorate that can even conceive of him being an acceptable president. (Easier, not easy, by any means.)

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  2. In 1960,I witnessed my first protest, about 15 people gathered together outside the Naval base in San Diego where I was undergoing boot camp. They were far enough away from where I was standing that I could not hear what they were protesting, though I think it was nuclear weapons. Ineffectual and bothersome were my first impressions, not to be corrected by subsequent views of such gatherings. In 1968, however, the situation changed drastically. I was driving a cab somewhere on the periphery of the Loop when a young lady frantically waved me down and shouted that the cops were beating kids up a couple blocks away. Even though I certainly sympathized with her causes (anti-Vietnam, anti-Daley, pro-peace), I rather coldly asked if she wanted me to take her somewhere (other than where she came from of course). She ran off and I beat it out of there in hopes of making money elsewhere. Right then and there I became convinced that protests become less ineffectual the more bothersome they are.

    By the way, my father, I learned later, was one of the cops attending the events, but I was told he injured a knee scrambling out of the squad car and didn't join in the fun of knocking young people upside the head.

    john

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  3. I learned today that the Fresca shortage is due to the virus, not the protests. Apparently some of the Fresca ingredients are imported and are currently unavailable.

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  4. A plausible apologia. It might be inappropriate to note some of the ironies of the situation. Few if any of the socially conscious protesters pictured wore masks. The Mayor was taken to task for deploying insufficient numbers of the hated policemen to their wards to suppress looting. The crimes committed by the Minneapolis cops will now be in the hands of the justice system, whose wheels grind more slowly than the outraged parties. Lets hope the sentences are sufficient, as Voltaire remarked about admirals who fail to win battles, "pour encourger les autres."

    Tom

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  5. The yellow-shirted marchers were members of a group of medical professionals I hung out with and marched with during the final days of the Cleveland convention, even though I was never a medicine man. They called themselves STAT (Stand Together Against Trump).

    STAT was a very appropriate acronym. Most of them were employed at the Cleveland Clinic and other hospitals in the city, and a majority of them were immigrants who were scared to death of the xenophobia of the Insane Orange Clown and his posse. There were very nervous about getting booted out of the country.

    Four years later, I can't help but wonder how many of these brilliant and talented people are still here. We all knew that a Trump victory would lead to a very bad future, but we had no idea how bad. How much worse will things eventually get? A lot.

    If Dolt 45 does not give way to Joe 46, we are going to be spiraling downward into progressively lower circles of hell. Round and round we go, and where it will stop, only God knows.

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