At the time of writing this post, there are protests being held against the recent rash of violent behavior against Asian Americans. This is certainly a noble cause for people to stand up for, and it is our tradition as Americans to get out onto the streets to make our voices heard in opposition to things that are happening that we disagree with. Protests have been a visible part of our society all the way back to the Revolutionary War, and it will be until the sun sets on our great nation.
In the past, the people marched in huge numbers on issues critical to the progress of our nation. Women marched for voting rights. Martin Luther King Jr. led a nationwide movement for equal rights for all Americans. The protests during the Vietnam War played a large part in getting us out of that war and our troops back home. All of these were important issues that became important to the American public as a whole, and they became turning points for our nation.
Unfortunately, though, we have reached a point where protests simply aren’t as relevant as they used to be. The events listed above were systemic problems with our government that could only be addressed by having attention brought to it and the politicians being forced to do something about it through public pressure. They required passionate people to get on the street to bring attention to the nation so the laws could be changed to right a systemic wrong.
The recent violence against Asian Americans is a terrible thing and needs to be stopped, but it is very difficult to pay much attention to the protests surrounding it. There hasn’t been a systemic problem for Asian Americans in our country for a very long time, and this recent rash of discrimination is a result of world events, not an underlying hatred of people from that part of the world by our citizens. Yes, the people doing the violence probably feel that way, but the public at large doesn’t.
We have a terrible tendency to react rather than respond to events in our world. The problem with this is that we end up having a protest over every issue that bothers us, and this leads to protest after protest until individual issues become two second afterthoughts. Protests should be reserved for oppressive, long standing injustices that pervade American life as a whole, not single events. Marching for individual, single issues reduces the value of the protest and turns it into a mundane thing that no one pays attention to.
How often do you really pay attention when you read or hear about a protest? I get as far as the headline for the news article before I shake my head and move on. I’m just not interested in reading about it. It doesn’t move my heart. There are so many protests that one just blends into another. People end up wasting their time hoping to move Americans who just can’t be moved anymore because we are so bombarded with other people’s opinions that we just don’t care. Our hearts have been turned to stone by a barrage of discontent.
We need to get back to a state of mind where protests are about fixing the problems of our government. Fixating on temporary issues and marching on it might make us feel good, but it doesn’t get anything done and it just wastes a lot of time. For things like Asian hate crimes, we already have laws on the books for that and it is up to our law enforcement, not the public, to address these issues. The people who hate aren’t going to be affected by marching in the street, and the rest of us have seen far too many protests for yours to be important to us. We already care about your issue, and protests just aren’t rare enough anymore to be special.
What do you think about protests? Do we need to march for everything that upsets us, or should we be focusing on major issues? How do you feel when you read about a protest, even if it’s about an issue you care about? The American protest is part of the bedrock of our nation, and it is critically important for affecting change in our politics, but great care must be taken to make sure we’re marching for the right cause.
New posts in your inbox
If you liked this post and would like to support the blog, please visit the support page!