Opinions and Rants #46: Protest
As you've probably gathered, these Opinions & Rants posts aren't well researched essays with citations and plenty of hard evidence. They're just me tubthumping armed with only about five decades of experience, and a watchful eye on what's going on in the world around me.
With that in mind, take it for what it's worth when I tell you that protesters today are not what they used to be.... in fact, they're kind of a joke....
Say what you will about hippie protesters, with the luxury of hindsight, we can see the Vietnam war really was an absolute clusterf**k. My father was in the military during this time, and when he told me that hippies were on a roof throwing rocks at him (he was in his military uniform), it really stuck with me. How horrible to blame him for the corruption and incompetence of our political leaders. When Jane Fonda and her ilk threw our soldiers under a bus, that was so incredibly misguided it's hard to comprehend.
That being said, the war was something that genuinely demanded a backlash. It was simply not worth it to send over 58,000 young Americans to the jungle to die. Not to mention the 1-3 million non-US casualties.
Just imagine if there was a draft today. Every night you had to watch young men being shipped home in bodybags for a war you didn't really understand. If you were lucky enough to get into college, you avoided the draft - a policy which objectively favored the upper class.
But those college kids didn't just look the other way, get their degrees of higher learning, and let the lower classes get slaughtered in the jungle; instead, they took to protest, and grew in numbers until they could no longer be ignored.
Again, you can argue with their often overly aggressive tactics and over-the-top anti-establishment mindset. But you can't argue with the cause. And when you have that many - the Baby Boomers were the largest generation the country had ever seen by far - all young, dumb and full of... well you know the rest... you're not exactly going to get an intellectual mild-mannered protest.
Now contrast that with these new millennials. They look like pointless retards.
There's no draft, but there's plenty of military conflicts that you could argue are worthy of protest. But no, we get unemployed millennials emerging from their parents' basements en masse to protest the most worthless of causes... and done in the most hilariously awkward and counter-productive fashion. They are all going to look back and cringe.
Here's an example: The Anti-Trump Protests
If it's possible, set aside your views on Trump for a moment. Or let's just assume he's every bit the racist megalomaniac his opponents claim he is.... protesting his rallies by beating the shit out of the attendees only bolsters his support. This is inarguable.
A big reason Martin Luther King Jr.'s tactic of peaceful protesting was so effective was that it allowed you to sympathize with the protesters. Indeed, even those who would not normally have gone to his side found themselves compelled to do so out of sympathy, out of human empathy.
And when those peaceful protesters were acted upon by the powers-that-be, if you had any soul at all, you couldn't help but feel compassion. He knew he couldn't achieve victory without winning the hearts of the majority - the white population. MLK had to overcome decades upon decades of ingrained white superiority - and he miraculously did so by appealing to the best in us. By inspiring our compassion.
What a stark, embarrassing contrast to the Trump protests.
The argument from the anti-Trump crew is inevitably "They did it first". Even if that were the case, go back and read what I said about MLK's method. They were most certainly violently acted upon, but, by remaining peaceful, eventually won the hearts and minds of the American people.
When you're egging defenseless young women on camera, when you're sucker-punching attendees peacefully leaving, when you're burning American flags, when you're damaging private property... guess what? You look like ignorant shitheads. The majority of Americans will not support people that look like mindless douchebags... in fact, those on the anti-Trump side will begin to feel empathy for the woman getting egged, the guy getting sucker punched.... and move to the other side. Or, at the very least, leave your side.
The same hold true for the Black Lives Matter protests and any other protests that have led to destruction and violence - it's not going to work.
Now, violent outrage has certainly won in the past. History is littered with hostile takeovers and violent insurrections. The French Revolution, The Bolshevik Revolution, etc.... but that's not what we're talking about here. These protests don't even qualify as riots - they're just small, isolated events that make the protesters look like retarded losers.
And, by the way, if you think you can accomplish something akin to The French Revolution today, you're living in a fantasy world. Our government will tolerate insurrection up to a point, but if needed, it will curbstomp your ass without hesitation. We're not dealing with muskets and cannons anymore, folks. In case you haven't noticed, our military has reached science fiction levels of badassery, able to squash an angry mob like it's swatting a mosquito.
Okay, maybe I'm veering off topic a bit. I told you I was just tubthumping. Back to the matter at hand - do these millennials have anything worthy to protest? Anything approaching the aforementioned Vietnam War and Civil Rights?
The answer is, sure... but they're not doing it.
For instance, there's been loads of feminist marches, but I'm not really clear on what they're after, and who they're protesting against. Are they protesting against white males? Good luck with that. When you protest you have to have a clear endgame - a goal. You can't just protest because your parent's basement has poor ventilation, and it's getting kind of stale down there.
For example: The clear goal of the Vietnam protests was to end the f***ing war. The Civil Rights protests had the clear goal to end segregation and have equal voting rights (end literacy tests, poll taxes, etc). They were both undermined by riots and extremism, but their endgame was clear.
What's the endgame for the feminist protests? Equal rights for women?... as in the same way MLK stood for equal rights for blacks? I don't think there's a comparison. Most Americans are unclear on the endgame here, presuming there even is one.
If I try and dissect the validity of feminist protests and Black Lives Matter protests, I think I'll talk all day... and my soapbox is already getting uncomfortable. We'll save that for another time. Suffice it to say, they in no way come near to rising to the level of the causes of the 1960s and early 70s.
We do have causes that are worthy though - there's plenty of military conflicts taking place, lots of terrorism, lots of suppression of free speech.... wait a tick....suppression of free speech ....yeah, that reminds me of my final point....
This is perhaps the biggest FAIL of the entire millennial protest movement.
When opposing viewpoints come to your campus, how about countering it with peaceful protests to inspire our empathy? How about countering it with intelligent debate to inspire our reason? How about not countering with shrill screams and smearing period blood all over yourself to inspire our cringe?
My message to millennial protesters - emerge from your parents' basements, emerge from your campus safe spaces and look around at your world. There is is real danger and corruption going on -and we NEED your protests - indeed, we always need the youth to stand up and shine a light on injustice and approaching disaster.
Your college safe space costs you $100K of debt, you're living in a basement because the gap between rich and poor is ever-widening, Islamic Jihad is expanding its reach, our elected officials are bought and paid for, our prisons are overflowing, we are 18 trillion in debt,... there is plenty to fight for. Stop going to anti-feminist and anti-Trump events and looking like fools.
We need a Bob Dylan or a John Lennon, a Martin Luther King, Jr. or a Christopher Hitchens, a Woody Guthrie or a Jackie Robinson, a Harvey Milk or a Ralph Nader...
We don't need sucker-punching, egg throwing, flag burning douchebags and Trigglypuff.