Whether you are standing, kneeling, yelling or praying, to the right, it seems there is no right way to protest in the United States.
Protesters around the country have taken to the streets to voice their outrage over the election day decision to elect Donald Trump as president of the United States, sparking once more the debate surrounding the ‘right’ way to protest in doing so.
While some have celebrated the protests claiming them to be an example of American citizens merely enacting their first amendment right in a powerful manner, countless conservative sources have condemned the mass protests, claiming them collectively to be violent, criminal acts.
Before I shine light on the start spangled irony here, I have to first share my own personal experience as it so happens that I have been in New York the past few days to witness the majority partake in these “violent” acts. To be fair it was ghastly, I had to watch a child no more than six years old viciously be placed on his Dads shoulders as his eyes were tainted when forced to witness the sheer diversity of the group of people surrounding him, poor kid, it was horrible.
But in all seriousness, while the majority of these protests have been non-violent, I am well aware that with every group there are individuals that look to exploit such movements to exercise their own agenda, and act out aggressively, take Portland for example. I do not condone that. The organizers of the protest do not condone that. But these individuals do not represent the masses. The majority have maintained a level of respect and have not threatened the safety of law enforcement or fellow citizens, which is more than I can say about the recently acquitted Bundy brothers and co, who did nothing but threat opposers, with deadly force.
Remember those guys? The “protesters” who used weapons as a form of intimidation. The ‘protesters’ who illegally occupied a federal building for 41 days, and were merely branded “extreme militants” fighting for their beliefs, when in reality, place them in any other country and they are called what they really are, terrorists. But no, not in the United States, not when you are White, or conservative, or better yet both. In fact, you can do all of the above and walk free. But when enacting the right to protest legally, against a White narrative, then prepare to be condemned by the knights of the right like no other.
These protesters have been labelled with the same brand of “thuggery” that was attached to all Black Lives Matter members protesting racial injustice. The same brand of “thuggery” attached to the #NoDAPL activists protesting the Dakota Pipeline. The same brand of ‘thuggery’ attached to Colin Kaepernick when he opted to take a knee, and the same brand of ‘thuggery’ that was coincidentally absent from those threatening to kill law enforcement at the Malhuer Wildlife Refuge.
Do you see the inconsistencies here? You could be sitting, standing, walking, running, laughing, crying, or even be a mannequin as a form of protest, but for right wing conservatives there will never be a “right” way to protest when you are either a person of color, or when the subject matter does not what they feel represents America.
In reality it is fair to find these protests ineffective, pointless, or even sour grapes. Democracy has had it’s say, whether the left likes it or not. So go ahead, have at it. But don’t dare use your platform to tarnish the majority of peaceful protesters as criminals when your tongue remained dormant during the ACTUAL criminal protests that took place in Oregon and Nevada. What I have seen, specifically in New York and Los Angeles, is a group of outraged citizens, most of whom are young, enacting their right to voice their opinion, only to be met with contradictory judgment from those so blinded by their right wing rhetoric that they are oblivious to the irony.
Ultimately, what we have witnessed in the past week is yet another reminder that in the United States, white citizens can protest while pointing guns at police and federal authorities with relative impunity, while unarmed people of color or those protesting White supremacy, do not enjoy such latitude. Instead, they are either dispatched with lethal force after being presumed a “threat” by police because, by definition, dark skinned people always look like “bad dudes,” OR, for the lucky few that avoid the fatal death penalty that has become an expected act of protocol from our police force, they are pepper sprayed, maced and fired at with rubber bullets, all while being wrongfully painted as criminals.
You see, to the right, there is no “right” way to protest.