Home > General > It'll work next time, you just watch

It'll work next time, you just watch

I’m not an activist. I readily admit this. So, this may not carry much weight, but in any case: this is pointless. Can anyone actually give me an example of war that was stopped by protests? Don’t tell me Vietnam; people hated the protesters more than the damn war. I suspect the same thing is true now, to some extent. The war is going poorly and the premises have dissolved, so public opinion has turned against it.

Seriously, do these protests do anything more than give the idiots on TV an opportunity to ridicule the lunatic fringe and celebrities such protests inevitably attract?

Categories: General
  1. ffanatic
    January 29, 2007 at 11:15 am

    I almost went to that protest. Almost.

  2. January 29, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    protests have brought down governments in other countries. in a couple of cases that has meant stopping a war as well. in the u.s. protests have been pretty effective at getting specific legislation (i’m thinking of the NLRA in the 1930s and the civil rights acts in the 50s and 60s)

    and i disagree of your analysis of vietnam. i’m not saying that the protests stopped the war on their own, they didn’t. but you’re wrong to claim that “people hated the protesters more than the damn war.” that’s more of the after-the-fact rewriting of the story than what really happened. in the vietnam era protests did have an effect. they galvanized people and got them voting differently. just as the civil rights era protests a decade earlier produced the civil rights act of 1967.

    the problem is that since the 1980s or so, the “dirty hippy” narrative has taken over. it was hardly the majority view in the 60s and 70s, but now it’s all people think of whenever they see a protest. that also means that the news coverage they get is really crappy. most protests i have been to are 95% ordinary people, sometimes in business suits, and 5% political theater types. the news cameras focus all their attention on the 5%, reinforcing the crazy dirty hippy image but ignoring almost everyone who attended the march. personally, i wish the 5% would stop and go away. but in any large group of people there’s always at some crazies to draw the spotlight.

  3. January 29, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    I’m talking about war in the U.S. specifically. I realize protests have done impressive things in other countries and have pushed legislation in this country. However, I think war in our country is different, given the common view that people shouldn’t protest when our troops are overseas (that was about 60% or so before the Iraq war, from what I’ve read). I’ve read in a couple places that polls indicated people didn’t like the Vietnam protesters. I can’t read the actual papers, sadly, but these are cited in support (from here):

    See John P. Robinson, “Public Reaction to Political Protest, Chicago 1968,” Public Opinion Quarterly, Spring 1970, pp. 1-9; E.M. Schreiber, “Antiwar Demonstrations and American Public Opinion on the War in Vietnam,” British Journal of Sociology, June 1976, pp. 225-32; Sidney Verba and Richard Brody, “Participation, Policy Preferences, and the War in Vietnam,” Public Opinion Quarterly, Fall 1970, pp. 325-32; William R. Berkowitz, “The Impact of Anti-Vietnam War Demonstrations upon National Public Opinion and Military Indicators,” Social Science Research, Mar. 1973, pp. 1-14; and, especially, Mueller, War, Presidents and Public Opinion.

  4. Colby N.
    January 29, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    As a former Director of Advocacy, I will say that protests serve many goals, but not so many of them are obvious. The chief amongst them is motivation and recruitment. I saw many people who never helped before, start helping after attending a protest; they saw the energy, the commraderie, and they felt like they were part of something, so they wanted to help. It is a stepping stone for many people. Furthermore, nothing gets a group of like-minded individuals rilled up like a good protest; it may not directly accomplish much, but can effectively be used to spearhead other actions and revitalize people who felt marginalized.

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