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View Diary: Methinks Thou Dost Protest Too Little (209 comments)

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  •  A couple of thoughts. (4.00)
    >>We haven't had a real protest march in D.C. since 1991.<<

    There was a BIG pro-choice march in April 2004.  The fact you don't recall may be a telling statement on the impact of marches.  They seem to be ho hum now.  Which brings me to ...

    >>And while I'm no great scholar of the Vietnam era, it seems to me that the political effectiveness that so many of us see a missing from our protest march was also missing from each individual protest against Vietnam. The true influence and volume of the "sixties" came as a cumulative effect.<<

    I disagree.  The tactics used in the 60s were relatively new, and they had a bigger media bang for the buck then they do now.  That might also have been due to the greater concentration of media, whereas today there is so much "noise" in the media (100s of channels) that network news no longer has the impact.  But, a lot of individual events in the 50s and 60s made a big splash.  It was far more than just a cumulative effect.

    >>That's the fact, Jack. We can yell and scream all we want about principles and doing the right thing, but we're dealing with a world so benumbed and insensate that only shiny objects in the grass catch its attention any longer.<<

    Yeah.  But the shiny objects that matter aren't rioters in the street or violent protest.  It's when "real people" not serial protestors take the lead on these issues.  That's why Sheehan matters.  That's why the 9/11 mothers have an impact.  That's why there are no Tom Haydens now and why not having Susan Sarandon on the podium doesn't hurt at all.

    •  Yes, (4.00)
      and having attended both the pro-choice march in 2004 and Saturday's march I can say that the pro-choice march was much more impressive--850,000 people and extremely well-organized. But you're right--other than being covered live on C-SPAN it only got about 10 seconds of coverage in the local news and 15 seconds on CNN and MSNBC and a lot of people had no idea it even took place.
      •  It also had more energy (none)
        And better energy. This protest seemed, well, tired, if that makes sense.

        Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote. ~George Jean Nathan

        by VirginiaBelle on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 08:59:54 AM PDT

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        •  Exactly! (none)
          I know exactly what you mean about the energy. I don't know if it's because the pro-choice march was in an election year and there was some hope in the air, or if it's just that it was more targeted and everybody there really felt passionate about the same issue. Whatever it was, it was lacking on Saturday.
          •  At that march (none)
            I was really excited to see my sisters from all over celebrating our right to choice. I loved all the "future abortion providers of America" shirts, and let people fawn over my "fighting vagina" shirt. Here, I don't think I necessarily thought I had anything in common with the people behind me other than we both hated the war, possibily in entirely different ways for different reasons and with different solutions.

            Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote. ~George Jean Nathan

            by VirginiaBelle on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 09:14:31 AM PDT

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          •  Well, there was plenty of energy and excitement (none)
            where I was. No one was chanting along during the ANSWER rally, but there was plenty of vocalization during the march itself. So I guess YMMV.
      •  asdf (none)
        I was going to mention the March for Women's Lives, which was an enormous turnout and very well-managed.

        There have also been other massive marches in the run-up to the Iraq War and on its anniversary.

        Not to mention the protests during the inauguration of 2000. That one was raw, spontaneous, and real--thousands of outraged "normal" Americans taking to the streets. Too bad the media completely ignored it--someone told me he had absolutely no idea it happened until he saw the crowds in Farenheit 9/11.

        Of science and the human heart, there is no limit. -- Bono

        by saucy monkey on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 11:13:31 AM PDT

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    •  A component missing (4.00)
      from the current anti-war demonstrations, which was one of the driving forces of the 60s demonstrations, is the huge contingent of motivated, vocal young people in towns and on campuses all over the country.  These were young men old enough to be drafted, but not old enough to vote.  The prospect of being drafted was a huge motivating force for those protesters.  But this is an all volunteer army (except for those who are being forced to stay in after they've served their promised time -- because the armed services are not meeting their sign up goals).  No young man or young woman today need fear the dreaded low lottery draft number.

      The attitude that informs many repug actions, (i.e., "I've got mine; life is fine.") is present even in folks who would call themselves "Democrat" or "progressive."  In a society that has become lazy, there is no point in expending a lot of energy to make a lot of noise about something that really doesn't impact "me."

      Thankfully, there are still some who will do the right thing because it IS the right thing -- and not just because of some negative, personal outcome they's like to avoid.

      Stay strong!  Be generous!!

      "No self-respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a Party that ignores her sex." -- Susan B. Anthony

      by Yellow Dog Dem Woman on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 09:07:33 AM PDT

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      •  True (none)
        But I think part of the reason might just be the idea that you should go to a protest wearing business attire and be somber and sober.
        Young people (and I think I'm still one of them?  Yikes, don't want to think about that) do want to have fun.  Not saying it can't be serious, but it can also be joyous.
        •  Fun and Joyous? (4.00)
          In my view, the best (and maybe the only) reason to have a march is that they can be very EMPOWERING for the participants.  They make the participants realize that they are a member of a very large army of people all working for the cause.  And that can really be motivating.  And perhaps, in a way, that's fun and joyous in some sort of sense, although I don't see it as the point.

          The way I interpret the many posts criticizing ANSWER on this site is that people aren't finding ANSWER's rhetoric and agenda empowering.  It seems that a number of posts believe ANSWER is conducting a bate and switch.  And while I don't doubt that apeople on this site who are very active in peace politics know what to expect at an ANSWER event, a lot of less clued in people, the vary people that need to be energized, are turned off when they go to a march thinking is about one thing and turns out to be about another.  Perhaps that explains the above posts on the difference between the pro-Choice march in April 2004 and this one.

          •  Exactly (none)
            What's more joyous than feeling empowered?

            Anyway what I meant about fun was: all this gloom and recrimination that's been going on here since Saturday has really turned me off to wanting to go to more protests (far more than a few free Mumia people).  The idea that if you don't think or act in the correct way you're bad is a killer.  
            Honestly, if you want young people to do something, there's really only one way to do it and that's to convince us that it's cool.
            It's not that I think it's right, it's just that I think it's true.  

            As for ANSWER, from what my mother tells me the Vietnam protests had the exact same dynamic and problems.  

      •  I talked about this (4.00)
        in another thread.  It's absolutely true.  Ann Arbor (a town of 100,000 people with an additional 30,000 students on top of that) had 500 folks show up for the anti-war rally.  Why only 500?  Because the war isn't a daily reality for the students or residents.  Nobody's kid is going to get drafted.  No mom or dad is going to get sent over there against their will.  Nobody's best friend from college is going to be shooting at Iraqis.

        There is no cost--at least that people can see.  It's distressing.   I think that's why the protest was a party-like walking convention--or whatever people are calling it.  Because the people protesting, while obviously well intentioned, don't have the same sorts of things at stake as folks did in the 60s with Vietnam.

        I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

        by Matt in AA on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 10:31:47 AM PDT

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        •  I must disagree (none)
          I think we have everything at stake-- our economy, our health, our culture, our liberties, our environment, in short, our way of life. (Or what used to be our way of life.) There IS a cost, and it rises every day that Bush wreaks havoc on our lives, in ways big and small.

          I participated in this march as an indictment of George W. Bush and his entire rotten administration, from the Iraq war to the plundering of the national treasury by his cronies, and everything in between.  I don't like living under the rule of liars.

          •  Well, I disagree, too (none)
            I'm totally with you.  What I'm saying, though, is that it seems for a lot of people they have to be threatened with their son/daughter/husband/wife/uncle/favorite teacher/whatever being drafted to fight the war for their feelings about the war and this administration to be crystallized.  

            With the hurricanes and the apparent desire of Americans to take care of their own, though, we're seeing the gradual shift away from support for this war and this adminstration.  When people begin seeing that the war has actual consequences, they start paying attention and voicing their opinions.  They stop watching TV or caring about which celebrity got married over the weekend or what type of cola they really prefer, or, more seriously, how they're going to pay their rent or get medicine for their kids or parents, and start focusing on things outside of themselves.  

            I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

            by Matt in AA on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 11:37:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, those things ARE (none)
            at stake.  But there is an emotional disconnect that keeps many people from understanding that the damage to those things will personally impact them.  YOU can see the connection to your own life.  I can see the connection to my own life.  But a lot of folks -- too many -- are very short-sighted, and cannot draw the connection between "our economy" and their annual income, between "our environment" and their children's health, between "our liberties" and their expectation about their individual privacy.

            It's that "me first" mentality, which the repugs have been very good at nurturing in our society, that keeps people from making the connection between their lives and the big picture.

            "No self-respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a Party that ignores her sex." -- Susan B. Anthony

            by Yellow Dog Dem Woman on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 01:04:37 PM PDT

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            •  Why don't we have the brains (none)
              to play into this, then? Republicans do; heck, every advertising campaign does. You buy a product so you can get whiter teeth, not so you can reduce the strain on the dental healthcare delivery system.

              Why don't we have the brains to rally for:

              • Higher pay for us working people?
              • Health insurance we can afford?

              and so on. There's always a way to find a personal angle. It's the draft that made Vietnam personal to the '60s protestors.
            •  Of course you're right (none)
              But look how successfully the right-wing has made people feel a connection between their lives and big issues that have NOTHING to do with their welfare-- gay marriage, for example. There are a lot of people out there who think they're fighting the good fight for a principle that's larger than themselves. Unfortunately, many of them seem to be in the sway of the Republican party. How do we connect in a similar way  with the undiscovered contingent who really do want to believe in something bigger than three meals and a plasma-screen TV?
              •  Also responding to the comment above... (none)
                Of course the repugs have done a great job.  But for some reason, we smarter-than-them Dems trust that an appeal to logic will cause the scales to fall from their eyes.  We see that there is a logical connection from the big issues to the personal.  And if logic swayed the "masses," our party would hold both houses of Congress, the judiciary and the presidency.  

                It's hard to admit that logic cannot win this fight.  What the repugs do is what we are loathe to do -- they jerk people around by their emotions.  They thrive on it!  They contrive an emotional connection between a big issue and one's personal life (oh, say, homosexuality and the sanctity of one's own marriage), make it appear to be the logical connection (smoke and mirrors), work it, sell it and voile:  people who don't want to be bothered with details buy the flawed argument.  It's easier -- they don't have to think, they just have to feel.

                I don't know what the answer is.

                "No self-respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a Party that ignores her sex." -- Susan B. Anthony

                by Yellow Dog Dem Woman on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 04:47:14 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  There's more components missing than one. (none)
        The draft was a vital rallying point in the sixties, but it wasn't the only thing that solidified the anti-war movement.

        I was thinking about it on my way back from DC - did over 16 hours driving on the last leg, and it got pretty weird (and hey! good luck with that MSOC), but I tumbled through some memories between the swooping pterodactyls (my daughter assures me they were bridges) and the glowing white line on the road.

        There were the cops.  Violence against the anti-war and hippie types in general.  It led to outpourings of physical emotion at the demonstrations that the MSM couldn't ignore.  Which leads to the MSM...  But did you notice how nice the cops were in DC?

        The MSM were on our side a lot sooner than they're likely to be this time.  Today they're scared, and they're too wrapped up in money and power to be truthful or fearless.  Too many conglomerates, and they've kissed way too much ass.

        There was hair... as a metaphor for the instantaneous recognition of one's fellows.  With long hair and dirty jeans you could always find a place to crash, always get a ride.  Simpler times.

        Drugs.  That whole scene's a lot less focussed now (no snark intended), and there's probably as much pot getting burned at the Young Republican HQ as there is anywhere else.  Maybe more, if their policies are any indication... (well, maybe a little snark)

        Art and music.  There's some coming up, and a lot of it good.  But I dunno, we need someone big.  The old guard is kind of business-as-usual.  (But yeah, it was great to hear Joan Baez again...  I hope she stays with it, and pulls in some more music people.)

        But overall is MSOC right?  Yup.  Pretty feelgood shit.  Anything wrong with that?  Nope.

        300,000 people is what they call a good start.  It'll get better.  And I think the main purpose that these things serve is to shame the MSM into covering it all with the honesty and integrity they espouse.  I don't expect them to ever be on our side, and I don't trust them at all - but as it builds, they'll come.  'Dirty Laundry.'

        By the way, keep in mind that this is all so compressed in time...  I started demonstrating against the war in Vietnam in 1960 (nine years old, cooler'n shit, and dumb as a rock...), and I was hardly the earliest of birds.  Took a decade-and-a-half after that to win.  I expect things to move faster these days - we all do - but it'll still take time and committment.

        And organization.  We need more of that - and I'm with most folks here:  if ANSWER puts the shit together, I might not like it all the way, but I'll go.

        Keep the faith.

        JF

        •  You started demonstrating in 1960? (none)
          At the age of nine? What, and who, got you started?

          "There's more than one answer to these questions, pointing me in a crooked line" - Indigo Girls

          by AlanF on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 01:03:48 PM PDT

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          •  Yeah. Mmmph. (none)
            Maybe my book'll get published, and you can read all about it - but the short version is beatnik parents (you ever read "Suzuki Beane?" - that was how I grew up...), artist father who went down to Mississippi in the 50's, back and forth between the coasts, hipsters flipsters and finger poppin' daddies all the way...

            I've got a daughter who went to DC with me.  Hey dude, three generations of protest...

            JF

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