The Fine Art of Effective Protest
There are three things wrong with these current round of protests.
(1) They are not nearly big enough.
(2) They need a reason to exist - a clear message.
Protesting the fact that Trump was elected is nonsense. He's elected. That's a fact. Protesting this fact is like a child throwing a temper tantrum. "I don't want Trump to be President. Whaaaaaa!"
Here's a reason to protest. There are a lot of people in a communication bubble made up of Fox News and paid for by corporate interests. (Not all corporate interests are malevolent, but some of them certainly are.)
On the internet, and in our personal lives, we create communication bubbles. We hear only from those people we agree with. All others, we "unfriend" or we simply refuse to access their internet sites or click on their links.
We heed to burst these internet bubbles and get real, accurate information to these people - information about climate change, about Obamacare, and about social injustices. This is a benevolent act. They are harming their own interests, those of their friends and neighbors, and, most of all, those of their children.
Write up something. One page. Pass it around to anybody you encounter. Put it on windshields of cars. Invite people to meetings where they can learn more.
The purpose of the protest is to get them to pay attention - to "look this way".
The purpose of a protest defines its content. It needs to be packed with information. Good, honest, reliable, fact-checked information. Not "leftist propaganda" that can be easily dismissed and discarded. Not mere opinion that has no facts behind it. Facts, that people can look up for themselves - that Politifact will identify as "True".
(3) It must be non-violent.
Loud, but not violent.
By "loud", I mean something that is hard to ignore. I mean shouting. I also mean civil disobedience - actions that may be technically criminal but that do no actual harm.
NOTE: Civil disobedience needs to be announced in advance with a clear messasge. Ghandi's salt march, and King's march on Selma Alabama are paradigm examples. "We are going to do X. We are going to do X at this date at this time and at this location. We are doing X for the following reasons."
And it is best to precede the act with some perfectly legal action that nobody has any right to stop. The best preliminary action is a march from a rally location to the location where the civil disobedience will take place.
Violence will only invite hatred and make retaliation seem justified. Worse, violence tends to spiral out of control. Group A commits acts of violence against Group B, who now feel justified in retaliating against Group A, who now feel that they are justified in further violence against Group B. Pretty soon you have a situation like Iraq or Lebanon (or North Ireland, until recently) - filled with people whose main goal in life is to deliver yet another deadly blow against the opposition.
The best place to stop this cycle of violence is before Round 1 - do not start it. If the other side starts it, then it both starts and ends with them. If not before Round 1, then when? Round 9? Round 109? 1000 years from now? Nope - before Round 1 is the only rational place to stop the violence.
Trump is an authoritarian. He is going to hate protest. A person who can be provoked with a tweet will be provoked by a protest. He will look for ways to make a violent response. Count on it. Be ready for it. Be resolved to the principle that the violence starts and stops with them.
If there are people on your side prone to do violence, then plan your activities without them. Do not let them corrupt and contaminate your message. The message is important. Corrupting and contaminating it is counter-productive.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
The Fine Art of Effective Protest
Posted by Alonzo Fyfe at 8:23 AM