Soul of Protest

Our grandmothers, devoid of their brother’s power,

there voices their soul armament

stood spartan for the longest hour

broke no emotion speaking their discontent.

Ancestors who simply stepped on a bus, refused to give up

tired of being treated as dogs of the street

stone faced and unflinching, through fire they stood up.

They had a dream, togetherness replete.

What’s happened since then? Now humor is our sword?

Insults about hands and hair?  Is that the cause the world will see?

Loud music and hooting, stealing and looting, it’s a party for when we’re bored?

Now we fight to be popular and clever? Our elders fought to be free.

Today we post pictures of our protest to facebook and we hope for likes,

Yesterday their only metric was liberation through the hard fought fights.

 

This is in response to what I saw at the NYC women’s march on the Saturday after Trump’s inauguration.  Perhaps my sample was not representative, but at what I thought was a march for women’s issues ended up being 75% signs trying to find the cleverest way to insult president Trump, often insulting him in the same petty ways he has insulted others.  To be fair, I am not a person in a particularly disadvantaged population. Nonetheless, this worries me in general as part of a trend where self indulgent 1-upping political humor, online trending articles, and buzzwords are beginning to supplement serious education on issues, free thought, and gandhi-esque efforts rooted in egoless sobriety in the progressive movement.  This has even been punctuated at occasion with drunken anarchy and rebellion at times since the election.

I’m sorry to the many, many people standing up for issues who do still aim to make protesting not something about ego, but about strategically bettering society.  I love you all.

 

 

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Maureen says:

    I’m not sure I can agree with you on this one. Hair and hand jokes aside, i think humor has an important role in protest. “Audacity and humor are more effective tactics for achieving social change than are rage and fury… Like audacity, satire and humor are also techniques of nonviolent direction action. Laughter and ridicule undermine authority and diminish its ability to compell obedience. You can weaken, unbalance, and ultimately overthrow the king quicker by laughing at him than by futilely screaming fury at him. ” (http://www.crmvet.org/info/nvhumor.htm) There was probably plenty of hooting going on but there wasn’t any reported looting that I saw. The Women’s march was peaceful worldwide. It represented something pretty amazing. Yes the protests were all over social media, but if Facebook had existed during the Civil Rights movement, you can bet your feed would be filled with those protests as well. That is a byproduct of the times, not of the protest. People were there because they are angry and scared and mad as hell and I’m glad they all showed up, regardless of their taste in signs. I love them all, too.

  2. I think the effectiveness of a protests is usually defined by numbers more than anything, because they are in effect a show of political strength in the first place. This protest was definitely effective in that sense. The real question, though, is what were the primary ambitions of the protest in the first place? Well placed humor can definitely add to a point by giving perspective, but ad hominem humor not only centralized the point on one person (Trump), it also focuses on grievances against him regarding trivial aspects of his personality or appearance. The same thing happened with George W. Bush: people often made fun of him for looking like a chimpanzee. If 1 in 100 people carries a sign which is bullying like this in a protest, its enough to lose the honest 99% of people a lot of credit.

    The Egyptian revolution managed to overthrow Mohamed Morsi when 33 million people marched in the street AND the military intervened. It’s obvious that we don’t have those numbers, nor does anyone really want to end ~2.5 consecutive centuries of democracy. Thus, Trump is in power and if we are going to use humor to gain it back it has to not only be funny to many circles, including right wing circles, it also needs to be giving a more meaningful perspective rather than serving as a retaliatory form of personal aggression.

    (also, the protests on Saturday were peaceful, but on Friday protests in DC resulted in large scale looting and many arrests http://wtop.com/inauguration/2017/01/inauguration-protesters-smash-downtown-windows/slide/1/).

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