Protest is not dead

The mouths of the country’s citizens are not quiet, as the editorial board would have us believe. Thursday’s editorial, “The changing image of the protester,” (Oct. 3) while a strong endorsement for the use and effectiveness of protest, declared protesting as a political force is a forgotten art – lost in a culture of bottom lines and SUV’s. I cannot agree. Protest has not been forgotten, but is just as alive today as ever. The reason protests like the World Bank/IMF meeting in Washington last week have been attributed an image of disorganization and annoyance is not because protest is a dead art, but as the editorial even indicates, “there are more than enough issues to keep a population yelling for decades.”

The difficulty with protest today is that there are too many issues. Nothing is centralized. Unlike the civil rights/Vietnam era, there is no single issue that so strongly impacts the daily lives of every American that it can polarize the populace and create political and revolutionary outrage. The civil rights movement brought home not only outrage, but actually impacted the lives of every American. Whether it was the rally against racism, as many whites personally witnessed the struggle of their neighbors or whether it was a strong racist belief that whites and blacks should not mix, the ear of the nation was united. Vietnam brought about the same result.

There are no issues today that can so polarize this country. The IMF/World Bank is too confusing, and not active enough to be a central issue. Also, the impact those organizations have on the average American is too attenuated for most people to care. Further, prison overcrowding, drug prohibition and homophobia are either caught up in things that people legitimately fear, like crime and drug addiction, or are so distant in relation to most people’s daily lives that while having a position is fine, people feel no need to protest over it.

Protests disrupt the lives of all those involved. Protest involves commitment to the cause and a dedication to sacrifice your own safety for it. Protest is not dead. Today, thousands of protests happen daily. The problem, however, is that each protest targets something different. The voice of the revolution is not dead, it is waiting. It is waiting for something to unite the masses, something that so intimately impacts the lives and minds of every person that it can no longer be idly ignored. Until that happens, however, we must support those who keep the pilot light burning.

Aaron Marcus, Law School