March 22, 2003

More Protest Thoughts

I'm writing this sitting safely at a computer as helicopters and sirens scream through the streets. SF Indymedia indicates 30,000 are marching and some being arrested. Enemy Combatant Radio is giving legal updates. I was out in the streets all day Thursday, but I'm still pretty ambivalent on the effectiveness of the protests. Here's where my thoughts stand at the moment:

Protest Positives
* Emotional Unity: people feel better knowing they are not alone in the opposition to the war.
* Emotional Outlet: breaking Starbucks windows isn't too cool, but its better that energy gets taken out on corporate property then on people someplace.
* International PR: its essential that some internationally newsworthy protests happens so that people around the world don't think all Americans are with Bush and Co.
* Domestic Results - Personal: Shutting down the city means people in America will start associating war with domestic uncomfort. They may not be able to realize that war = major deaths in foreign places, but maybe being personally discomforted by traffic and city shut downs will change people's willingness to support wars.
* Domestic Results - Political: Can't imagine the national economic losses of protests can measure up to the cost of waging war, but perhaps the it can encourage local and state governments to be more vocal in resisting the drive towards military violence. And of course politicians can't be to happy to see all these voters upset in the streets.

Protest Negatives
* Bad Domestic PR: Protests don't look so hot on TV and they sure piss off those stuck in traffic. They don't encourage people to change there views towards those of the protesters. Probably alienate a lot of people actually.
* Success Unproven At Best: Did the protests of the 60's lead to the end of Vietnam or the election of Dick Nixon. Could be both, could be neither, but Nixon certain came into office well before the war ended.
* Perpetuates Fear: The government is using fear to sell war and reduce civil liberties. Protests in the street (or at least the police response to the protests) help spread that fear.
* Economic Damage: Slowing down the economy isn't usually the best thing for the people.

All in all I'm still on the fence. Happy I was protesting hard on Thursday, those actions made the international papers. But now I'm more interested in figuring out actions that produce more long term results. In other words I think my time could be spent better doing something besides protesting. What it is exactly I can't say yet, but I firmly believe that there are ways we can improve this world on a large scale, so its back to the lab for me. Stay tuned for further developments.

Posted by Abe at March 22, 2003 07:44 PM


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