Of Protests and Courage

A recent social media dialogue concerning violent protests around the country caught OneOldCop’s attention. The individual’s post starting the dialogue implied the protestors seemed to have too much time on their hands. A more liberal, possibly leftist, acquaintance of his took the position this was their right, and it might be the only way they can make their voice heard. This writer tends to agree with the analysis of the gentleman posting the original commentary.

After all, it seems people are protesting everything from the new president to daddy/daughter dances. Okay. Maybe there have been no protests against daddy/daughter dances, but an elementary school in California is changing their annual event to a ‘Family’ dance for reasons of inclusiveness. Can protests at schools not making such changes be far behind?

Whatever happens concerning the daddy/daughter dances, there are plenty of protests to go around. Of course, as both parties agreed, protests are a part of the history of this country. Additionally, they are completely legal, if handled properly. The problem to be discussed here is a comment by the gentleman on the liberal side of the dialogue. He commented that it took courage to protest.

This comment was apparently made with all seriousness. Based on his comments, one must believe this individual actually think the anarchists at Berkeley and other liberal institutions, as well as the rioters and looters in Ferguson and other cities were being courageous. He said as much, and when called out on their outlaw behavior he responded with another statement this writer feels was outlandish. His comment was, “In the history of the world what great change came without discontent, anger, protest, or even violence.”

This individual clearly supports violent protests. He also feels those who engage in such protests are courageous. Both of these points deserve analysis, but the focus of this piece is the comment about courage. The idea that protestors in the United States today are showing courage is ridiculous, if not obscene.

Certainly there were times in the history of this country when protesting required courage. The men and women who protested and marched for civil rights in the mid-twentieth century certainly showed courage. They knew full well they were risking their lives to stand against the status quo.

Those marching with Dr. King and his followers knew they could be shot, burned, lynched or killed in some other horrible fashion for standing up for their cause. It took courage to go up against the opposing forces in those days, and some paid a terrible price for their courage.

The protests of the civil rights activists brought about changes in the law and society that made it much safer for future protestors. With a few tragic exceptions, protestors during Vietnam knew they faced relatively mild threats when compared to martyrs such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, George Winston Lee, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Henry Schwerner. Protestors today are some of the most protected people in the country.

The truth is, it takes little if any courage to protest today. The very government one may be protesting does its best to protect those who are protesting against it. Additionally, the nation has raised a generation of men and women who feel entitled and protected.  The average college student for the last few decades has been raised to feel untouchable and invincible.

The feeling of invincibility that comes naturally with youth is compounded by a society which insulates many young people from the consequences of their actions. The lack of accountability, the feeling of invincibility, and the tendency many have to follow the crowd leads to an unstable and dangerous environment. Little more than a social media post is needed to start a riot. When one adds the influences of the modern day equivalent of groups such as Students for a Democratic Society of the 1960s, it is amazing the violence and destruction is not greater.

These are the folks that show up for demonstrations looking like they came from a riot in a foreign country. They may be dressed like Ninja Warriors, cat burglars or bank robbers.  They are prepared to inflict violence on others, or cheer on those who commit such violence. Add the masked leaders and cheerleaders to the old adage about the average IQ of a mob, and one has the makings of a modern riot, excuse me, protest.

OneOldCop will close this piece at this point. To be generous, the gentleman claiming protestors are showing courage is a bit out of touch with reality.

© OneOldCop -2017



About S. Eric Jackson

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