I’ll See Your Protest and Raise You…


Donald Trump has been in office less than two weeks and the number of protests against the few actions he has taken so far is dominating the news wires. As much as the mainstream news media insists that this is a radically new phenomenon, it’s far from original and so predictable that most of the coverage has the majority of the public yawning. After all, the prelude to this presidency has been drawn out over the last year, maybe longer, and the renewed interest in street demonstrations has gradually increased over the last three years. With few exceptions, the cops are treading lightly so as not to become the focus of media hullabaloo. 

So what’s new? Not much.

What I find more interesting is the lack of spontaneity. Obviously, all these people marching around and carrying signs didn’t just get organized the day of Trump’s inauguration. The numbers and logistical accomplishments betray a substantial amount of planning and forethought that has gone into making enough of a show to give the media outlets a plethora of sound bites and copy material. The real question should be, “Who did all the work and is funding the effort?” Objective critics are almost always asking such questions, but they’ve been pretty quiet…or purposely ignored. And if that’s the case, shouldn’t we be asking why?

It never ceases to amaze me how people on the left and right of politics are always looking for a cause to get behind, whether the issue has merit or not. If there is a lack of a substantive cause available, we don’t have any trouble making one up…from boogeymen under our beds, to apocalyptic concerns motivating survivalist fads, to hysterical condemnations of fascists or commies. I’ve met people with little or no political interests who show up to staging areas for the “Protest of the Day” just to get in on whatever rowdy happening is scheduled, when they have nothing better to do. Others get paid for their efforts, no matter what the prevailing cause du jour, and some of those “go pro.” I’ve met some interesting characters who carve out an existence, if not a living, making a fuss in public and encouraging anarchy. With a little practice, you can easily spot them in a crowd and those recent sound bites have been full of them.

Once the cloned chants, meaningless mantras, and unsubstantiated accusations get sifted out, I will be curious to see what, if anything, comes out of this latest round of civic disorder. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. Mass hysteria is contagious. We’ve experienced it often enough at revival meetings and sporting events. But the backlash to the backlash to the…whatever…will eventually give way to rational reasoning once someone in the crowd asks, “Wait! I forgot! Where are we going with this?” Some will shrug and continue marching. Others will peel off into the nearest pub for a pint. Still others will feel the need to get back to school, back to work, or just back home for a nap. But let’s not completely dismiss the potential influence of an unruly crowd, nor the possible absurdity of the outcome…

“But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.”
-Luke 23:23-25

Photo © Reuters

Michael Kelly
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