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Against Iraq War Protests

Check This: My Peaceful Demonstration Against Protests

As I listen to the screams of sirens and shouts that are the soundtrack to our local antiwar protests, I can't help but be struck by the irony of the chaos and anarchy that surrounds the activity that is a demonstration for peace.

I'm all for the Constitutional right to freedom of speech, but I'm a bigger proponent of the efficacy of speech. In this, a republic with delusions of true democracy, we've spent the last couple hundred years developing a system of protocols and channels by which things get done. People wearing giant heads and gorilla suits aren't mentioned once.

While the dissemination of ideas is crucial to debate, one must consider the method. In rhetoric, four of the five components of persuasion are wretchedly and fundamentally absent from the typical modern social protest. I fail to see how a large group assembling with the intent to cause gridlock, disrupt peace, target entrances to buildings, and endanger public safety in a futile attempt for attention is advantageous to the message. It is irresponsibility on an incomprehensible level.

Worked up? Me too. Please,


Here's a tip: rebuttal works best if the person you oppose can hear you. There is one man who ultimately makes the decisions for our country regarding war and peace. And he is not lying down in the street with you. Furthermore, while you exercise your right to bongo drum and lock arms and sit in traffic, there are still men and women risking their lives. While I'm sure they would appreciate your support, perhaps that support could be framed in a way not reminiscent of a child who's not gotten his way.

I understand that given that reality people feel helpless. I do. But there are ways to spread your message without inciting violence. Your misguided pleas for attention are causing more harm than good. No one wants to see soldiers killed. No one wants to see anyone killed. Your message doesn't even have a clear opposition and certainly won't come up on the floor of Congress, no matter how many times you paint your face blue. I guarantee it.

The extent our participation in the dialogue effectively diffuses at the ballot box. If you have something to say, therein lies your pulpit. Grow up and run for office if you're that worked up about something. But for the peace and safety of us all, put down the poster paint, hitch up your pants, and do something.

Am I wrong? Have you taken part in a modern protest that you felt inspired change?

Have a different opinion? Check out Liberty's response.


Join The Conversation
vanilla19 vanilla19 9 years
I completely agree with you, Citizensugar. On Thursday there was a huge protest in my city, and an organized(I guess you could say so) walkout of students at high schools to go to the protest. I didn't understand the reasoning behind the walkout(I didn't leave); leaving school won't protest peace, rather it will protest authority. I later saw pictures of students scaling the city hall, and some were arrested.
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
That's not what MLK's FBI file states, nor what JFK or LBJ's staff discussions entailed - this was my first graduate thesis assignment, so I was lucky enough to be able to spend a hell of a lot of time in the Congressional Record. You might be interested in it, hypnoticmix, because what you just stated in your comment is certainly true of what Americans learn, but not the reality of the situation.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
With all due respect minaminamina I disagree when you say "ironically, it is only because of the threat or action of violent protesters that the Civil Rights Act was passed". The Civil Rights act was first proposed in 63 by Pres. Kennedy and I believe that the Johnson admin. finally took action because a few states left up to there own discretion chose to continue to treat minorities as second rate citizens regardless of federal legal threats, withholding of federal funds ect. After a few years of watching non-violent protesters beat by local and state authorities and having to send the FBI and federal troops to protect the protesters the public and the administration had had enough. Were they Johnny come latelys, sure. But my point is it was not due to the protesters overt actions of violence it was in due part to the overt violence upon the protesters.
princess_eab princess_eab 9 years
Are you for real?? Have you ever been to any kind of peaceful protest, or have you only seen clips of violent protests on TV? Taking an issue to the streets peacefully, as a show of numbers, is a vital part of American history and an essential right. Yes, I have been to many peaceful, well-attended protests. I suppose someone who is anti-protests would question my right to even go. I'd call that opinion anti-American, frankly.
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
Oh, and ironically, it is only because of the threat or action of violent protesters that the Civil Rights Act was passed, and that the American people had such influence in the ending of the vietnam war. It took one year after MLK died for the CRA to be passed, because of the threat of race riots (and the imaginary threat and media-spun propaganda that the Black Panther party would incite violence), and fragging in Vietnam against generals coupled with several citizen-led riots in America sped along the withdrawal process from Vietnam a great deal. So we may disagree with violence, but I think I disagree more with the centuries of justified violence that our particular government has practiced and continues to on certain groups of people in this nation and overseas. I would prefer peace, of course, but what can we logically expect when people are incited to such a degree? On that note, American anti-war protesters now have not and will not become violent because they are invested in this peaceful protest stuff.
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
This is true of protests, yes. But not true of sit-ins and other civil disobedience tactics which have peacefully upset the process enough to achieve victory. For example, Students Against Sweatshops at Harvard Uni last year sat in for 67 days in their Presidents office demanding a living wage and benefits for non-Union janitors at the school who were mainly black and latino. The University at Buffalo SAS chapter did the same thing. Sometimes all it takes is to show people that other's care, and to educate - I'm an old school student organizer but protests aren't my thing - you have to be up front, abrupt, prepared, and ready to get down and dirty (i.e. arrested or beaten, both of which a lot of activists have been), not walk in the streets with signs.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Oh cool juju I'm on Montgomery & Washington across the street from the Transamerica bldg.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I applaud your father and his associates sashak and I don't think anyone here is criticizing them or others like them. Our focus is very specific on those that cause chaos with the ironic intent to teach peace.
juju4 juju4 9 years
Hypnomix -- I am in LA, but we have an office in SF. Our office is on California street, in the same building as Chevron. My co-worker said it was pretty scary getting into work.
CitizenSugar CitizenSugar 9 years
Hey sashak, You're absolutely right. It is certainly possible to demonstrate an idea without it devolving into spectacle. I applaud those who are able to communicate their ideas in a way that is effective and doesn't distract from the message. Thanks for your comment!
sashak sashak 9 years
Thank you, Liberty. I have participated in several large protests. Yes, some people occasionally get out of control, but by & large most protesters are peaceful. But there are ways to spread your message without inciting violence. Your misguided pleas for attention are causing more harm than good. I have serious problems with the above statement. Most protests & protesters are non-violent & seek to gain attention to the issues peacefully. My father (a vet) protests on our State House steps every Wednesday with a group called Women in Black. About 10-15 people stand outside & hold up signs. Neither of those things cause any harm. The vast majority of protests are small in number & don't seek to tie up traffic or otherwise disrupt daily life. Please keep that in mind
DCStar DCStar 9 years
Here in Washington, DC I think 30 people were arrested trying to block the entrance to the IRS building. Otherwise I'd have to say it was fairly peaceful, if a bit morbid (those death masks - shudder). A lot of people are just looking for a cause, and finding one, but not necessarily the right cause for them.
rpenner rpenner 9 years
I agree and disagree with this post. I agree that violence gets you no where and that the violent protestors are doing more harm than good. But there are none violent protestors. I'm going to second a ton of people on here and go ahead and say that the voice of hundreds of calm, not violent people gets heard. Protests can be effective, but anarchy and chaos do not lead to peace. We're having a major problem with very violent protesting up here in Vancouver right now. Buildings are getting destroyed and people are getting hurt. This does not get your point across. It does not make me want to help you. In fact, it does the opposite. I do think that people can rally together to make a difference, but I think it is better done by informing ourselves and using that knowledge to provide a well thought out and informative written message to the newspapers and your local governing body ect. Make your point with respect and you will receive a respectful response.
samantha999 samantha999 9 years
Yesterday a 93 year old woman walked into the Times Square recruiting station to enlist and take the place of a soldier. My kind of lady. Grandmas are holding a "knit - in" here in NYC - quiet but got the attention of the city and the press who thus spread their message. Violent protesters only incur the wrath of the people of the city they are in and the disgust of others. They tax the cities resources. Cops who should be patrolling and protecting are trying to control them, courts who should be dealing with criminals are dealing with them. Waste of money, fuel and manpower. Write your local paper, knit or stand on a corner holding a banner. Make your point with dignity but rampage through my city and I want to see you in jail and your message is lost on the masses. Whisper and they will listen harder, scream and they will cover their ears.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I strongly disagree with the notion that anti-war protesters should take liberties when it comes to inciting violence and mayhem upon the general public. When your purpose is to demonstrate against violence and insight peace the worst thing you can do is to become what you are protesting. The purpose of being out there is not to reach the people who already agree with you. Nor is it to reach the people who disagree with you. It is to reach the vast number of Americans who are for all intents and purposes on auto pilot. You're trying to get their attention to get them to snap out of it, pay attention and want to be enlightened about an issue that truly matters. You will not accomplish this by using tactics which make people recoil from the messenger there for shutting them off from the message. I believe the anti-war protesters hearts are in the right place but they need to be smarter about their tactics if they want to convince the masses. Let us not also forget the power of the pen. Every one letter received by our national representatives is considered to be twenty five people sharing the same exact opinion.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
for some reason every picture I have ever seen of protestors looks like the kids that used to sit outside High School smoking and waiting for thier rides, and or the drama club sitting around the caf rehearsing Grease for the umpteenth time.
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
I'm sorry, I just think this is a completely uninteresting story, with all it's pros and cons, compared to the Burma protests. I agree with Citizen though, and mostly because I think this jams the conversation instead of starting it, or pushing it. You know what I think they should do? Have town hall and college campus meetings with politicians, military leaders, middle east analysts and college professors informing the public about the situation, the different strategies and outcomes and where the public can have their questions answered in detail. The marching, the shouting, the posters; the politicians are not going to listen to that. But the more informed we are, the higher the bar is for our elected officials, and the better we can cast our votes come election time. If we made it a priority 365 days a year to get involved we wouldn't need these good for nothing protests. If you want to influence the direction of this country you should encourage people around you to inform themselves, write in to news channels, newspapers and magazines, write letters to your mayors, senators, governors, campaign for your presidential candidate, start a political blog, vote, get involved in politics on a local level, and the list goes on. This will be far more helpful than a cartoony protest. Going to this protest isn't doing anything. And it doesn't help your cause and it pushes the opposing party away. Why is that? It is because we live in a free democracy, unlike Burma, Palestine, Iran, Taiwan, North Korea where protests really do make a difference, and you can be killed for even trying to plan one. We should pay more attention to those. Mother Teresa once said; "Anti war rallies? No. Invite me to a Pro peace rally, and I will go."
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
Most protesters are not violent.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
"Blondie is right. How can we criticize anti-war protestors for inciting violence to spread their message. It is America who is using violence to force the great ideals of democracy on the rest of the world. Doesn't that seem hypocritical?" - Well, if there protesters are against violence, aren't they the ones who are hypocritical?
RCLdesigngirl RCLdesigngirl 9 years
Well said, CitizenSugar.
MSucre MSucre 9 years
Blondie is right. How can we criticize anti-war protestors for inciting violence to spread their message. It is America who is using violence to force the great ideals of democracy on the rest of the world. Doesn't that seem hypocritical? And Citizen, how can you say DO SOMETHING to these anti-war protestors. They along with the soldiers are the only ones actually DOING ANYTHING. The rest of us just sit at home complaining about the price of oil and refusing to pay more to pay for this enormous and expensive war.
MSucre MSucre 9 years
I agree with Blondie99
syako syako 9 years
:woohoo: citizen said rhetoric.
CitizenSugar CitizenSugar 9 years
Hi Blondie99! Thanks for your thoughtful comment. You raise some great points and I was glad to read your take on it. I do think that the circus-like spectacle that, perhaps not all but certainly some, protests take on distracts wildly from the seriousness of their message. My quibble is mainly with that point. And yes! You're absolutely right. We need to be reminded of what's going on--as often as possible. I just wish those reminders, the delivery of that message, fully captured and communicated the dignity and seriousness of the idea and allowed people to consider that--instead of the protest itself.
JuliusCaesar JuliusCaesar 9 years
I don't agree with violent protests. However I REALLY believe in protests, and I participate in them too. Before the Iraq war started, I was one of 1/2 a million people that took to the streets of London and voiced our opposition. Did it stop my country's participation? no, but it meant that my country was less willing to let our leader get away with it, and he was forced to continuously answer questions about our involvement in the war. Our voices were heard, Our PM acknowledged our unhappiness. We made use of our democratic freedoms.
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