Protesting: Inherently Problematic

Looking at the photos from the YouStink anti-government protests, I can’t help but be reminded of the current ongoing protests in the US and the hordes of commentators that stress that protestors should get a job and behave like adults. The situation is a little different, as the current US protests have not escalated to this degree, but nevertheless, the comparison helps me look at the problem with more perspective. Personally, when I study past events such as the YouStink protests, it becomes very easy to judge things from a “hind sight” point of view. The images of accumulated trash serve as a visual representation of the ineffectual government, and the images of the protests showed the violent escalation of the clash between the people and the government. I used to look at events like this and think that the protesters were clearly right in what they were doing, that they had a duty to protest a government that wasn’t working for them. But amidst the current protests in the US, I’m aware that many look at these actions as shameful and indulgent. It makes me wonder who, at the time, thought that these protests were unnecessary. Furthermore, as Amar notes, many were concerned that the individuals and groups that “came together during these uprisings shared little beyond their slogans” (267). This seems to relate to our discussion of how social media activism boils down to specific phrases, slogans, hashtags, or visceral videos or images. At the time, I questioned the effectiveness of activism based on a simple shared notion. But I think that activism has always kind of been based on some sort of rallying cry and core idea, while the solution and planning of the actual activism takes a back seat. This may be problematic, but I’m starting to consider it as more of a necessary evil. Looking at the photos of the protests, the streets are swarmed with angry people dissatisfied with an ineffectual government. They didn’t all strategize how to fix all the problems, but they all cared enough to show up based on a shared value. And collectively, they produced a movement of resistance.

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3 thoughts on “Protesting: Inherently Problematic

  1. After reading your blog post I tried to view the ongoing protests in the US from an outside view. In the end I can agree with your idea that voicing these dissatisfactions is definitely a necessary evil. When you think about it there are really a small amount of options when considering how a movement should voice anger against wrongdoing. It’s easy to associate protest superficially with only its slogans too, I feel like people do this because they don’t share the same situation or values of others.

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  2. Everything you say here is what I’ve been thinking since the this last United States election. I often wonder how anyone could possibly be against the protests that have been going on seemingly continuously for the last few weeks. How people could feel right being on the wrong side of history. How they could feel justified in standing in the way of basic human rights. Maybe it’s because I come from a liberal background with liberal parents that were immigrants themselves and maybe I just don’t understand the plights and perspectives of conservative America, but I look at the YouStink protests, the problem itself and I get angry. How is it that society and the government could devolve so low to the point that none of the trash is collected? Who could possibly be against the government caring and providing for it’s people? Who could argue that it’s not the government’s, who’s created by the people and should be for the people, responsibility to maintain safe living conditions for it’s citizens? It makes me especially angry when I think about Flint, MI and the fact that it’s not even the only city with undrinkable water in one of the most advance first world countries in the world? I truly do appreciate social media however because without it, I, along with hundreds of thousands if not millions of people, would never have learned of the neglect of the government. And progress is slow but it is there. Even when the government refuses to due its job, the people step up and offer help. Bottles of water are being shipped in by the caseload, filters, money, awareness are all being exchanges because of this tool of the public. Again, it’s a shame that the government isn’t already on top of this situation, but the YouStink and other protests give me hope that the public will stand for the public regardless of the fact that the only thing that unites us is our sense of right.

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  3. Protests in the US have gotten out of hand before, like the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, which is why a lot of people are against it even though violence was never the intent behind these movements. I do agree with you that this might be a necessary evil for change to happen, but I also wonder if more education on these movements’ goals would eliminate the violence.

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