These days the whole world is in protest for one thing or another.
Protests in the US for various reasons…..racism, violence, etc…..Myanmar is in protest…the same with India, Brazil, Hong Kong, Thailand…..so forth and so on…..people are rising up and taking to the streets….
Why is the world burning with protests?
Before we answer that question there is another…..
Just what are all these protest accomplishing?
But before we answer that probing question….let us look at historic protests from the not so distant past….
As protests have continued nationwide, more than a dozen other U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Dallas, and Washington, D.C., have also made commitments to reduce police resources and funding, and make changes to their systems.
Throughout American history, peaceful protesting — which is protected under the First Amendment and is an act of patriotism — has been utilized to advocate for and lead to change. While the overall impacts of the current national protests are still unfolding, they will likely be influential, just like these movements:
There have been street protest throughout the world…here are some of the more notable protest and their results…..a baker’s dozen of protests……..
To bring perspective to the debate, we’ve looked through the past 200 years of peaceful protests, from tragic to triumphant to just plain weird.
As you see some were successful while others did little good at all….
Let’s look at protests from say the last 50 years…..were they successful or just a waste of time to provide the media with fodder for their reporting?
Vanessa Williamson of the Brookings Institution and political scientists Kris-Stella Trump and Katherine Levine Einstein shows that the number of Black Lives Matter protests in response to police killings of black civilians has grown from only a few in a handful of cities in 2013 to over 500 protests in nearly 200 cities in 2014.
But what effect do these protests have?
Political science, it turns out, actually has a lot to say about protests, even though it’s really hard to pinpoint what makes one protest effective and another not. Broadly speaking, though, there are four main ways the literature tries to evaluate a protest:
- Did it raise awareness?
- Did public opinion change?
- Were there institutional changes as a result?
- Were there electoral consequences, either intended or unintended?
First, protests, at their most basic level, raise awareness about issues that might not yet be in the mainstream. This might not sound all that important, but research by political scientist Deva Woodly of The New School shows that protest movements can fundamentally alter the way we talk — and think — about a specific issue.
The basic question to ask is…..do these protests truly work?
I say it raising social awareness but change the direction it does little.
For instance we are still protesting the extreme use of force by the police and after a decade of protests little has changed….black people are still being legally murdered in the name of the law.
Throughout history, coal miners have been unlikely champions of protest movements. As global economies began shifting away from coal, miners suffered from downsizing, colliery closures, and loss of benefits. In the US and UK, miners used protests to bring their struggles to the public – and won. In 2016, coal workers of the China’s Longmay coal firm prompted the government to admit financial struggles and demand back payment of thousands of workers. Additionally, the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement was similarly effective in giving America’s lower income bracket a voice, shedding light on the growing chasm between the top 1% of American earners and the rest of the nation. More recently, the nationwide protests across America in response to the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer have brought police brutality and racism into the spotlight, forcing Americans to address the ongoing disparate treatment of African Americans, especially by law enforcement, which has been unchecked for decades.
Protests aren’t as effective as demonstrators like to think. Thousands of protests are constantly taking place around the world. While the George Floyd protests across America and the world may have changed how Americans view each other and how the world views America, most protest efforts pass without remark, revealing the miniscule impact of protests in general. Though the mob of pro-Trump protestors that stormed the US Capitol building in an attempt to overturn the Nov. 3 presidential election results drew the world’s attention (and condemnation), it did not succeed in meeting its aims; the constitutional ceremony to certify the election results was interrupted, but Joe Biden’s presidential victory has been confirmed.
A Princeton study found that public opinion hardly comes to bear on legislation, and the results of most protests confirms this. The anti-war movement against US military involvement in Vietnam that was popularized on college campuses in 1965 had no effect on war activities, which were in fact ramped up until the war’s end in 1973. Protests in the US and the UK against the Iraq war did nothing to curb the invasion. The Women’s Day March of 2016 was even confronted by results that ran counter to their goal of ensuring reproductive rights for women worldwide. For instance, just two days after the protest, President Trump signed an executive order stripping US aid from foreign institutions that offer abortion services, and further rollbacks on reproductive rights in the foreign and domestic arena continue.
Do these protests work?
I say look at the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act as examples.
If they truly worked then why are African-Americans no better off than they were in the 60’s……same for the voting rights….if they worked why are we fighting that battle yet again?
Protests rise awareness….but what has that awareness accomplished.
I have given my thoughts in the past……https://gulfsouthfreepress.wordpress.com/2020/06/04/why-not-try-non-violence/
While I agree that substantial change needs to happen….I just do not think that protests are the best way to make that change.
History show us that any change can be quickly and decisively taken away if the eye is off the ball….and that is what has happened to the voting rights in this country.
I depart with a quote from Emma …….“People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take.”
I Read, I Write, You Know
I Read, I Write, You Know
“lego ergo scribo”