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Ineffective Protests

Protests are once again popular in America. I was in college in the sixties so I am familiar with protests and marches. Except back then, most of us guys attended protests to meet girls. During the late sixties we were protesting the war in Vietnam. Then I got drafted and my protesting days ended, as did my vigorous pursuit of women.

In America, we are fortunate that we have the privilege to protest – to gather and express our opinion. A protest is a method of enabling citizens to gather and proclaim, in a unified voice, their opinion with the hope that their opinion will be heard by onlookers, opponents and those who have the authority to consider or reconsider a decision that has been made or will be made in light of their unified opinion. There have been effective protests but by far most have been ineffective. For example, take the protest against injustice that was staged when a policeman shot an unarmed black man. Voices were being heard and people were listening. However, when members of the protest began setting cars on fire and looting stores, sympathy was redirected to the very police who were the subject of the protest since they had to move in to protect the property of innocent people and keep the fires from spreading to the rest of the city. The message of that protest was lost. The protest became a riot. Take another example. Recently, thousands of women marched in Washington D.C. They marched to support a myriad of women’s issues. Their voices were being heard. But then, at the conclusion of the march, they left signs and other debris piled up along the streets. There are two images that were shown over and over by the media: the streets filled with women, and an empty street covered with litter. Those two images implied that these women were concerned about issues that affected them specifically but that they had no regard for others: those that had to clean up the mess that they had so thoughtlessly left behind. I don’t think city workers were very supportive of these women after they left such a mess. Failed protest. Screaming insults, racial slurs, burning cars, looting and trashing cities create a diversion from the intended message and purpose of the protest. It proclaims to the world that we are not capable of expressing ourselves without acting out childish behavior. An effective protest is not a temper tantrum.

In conclusion, every protest should begin or end with a pledge to the flag of the United States of America, the icon of our freedom. If the protesters truly feel that what they have to say will make America a better country, then it should be announced, symbolically, that the intention of their protest is to improve America and not to destroy it. Terrorist all over the world smile and applaud when they see the kind of disunity that has been displayed across our country in recent weeks. We might have different opinions concerning social issues, but it needs to be known, universally, that we are all attempting to do our part to make America the greatest country on the planet. We are all Americans.





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