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The three rules of political protest: location, location, location

There’s an old joke:

I was walking home one night when I saw a man on his hands and knees on the ground. I asked him what was the matter. He said he’d dropped his keys. I immediately offered to help, and started looking with him.

After several fruitless minutes, I asked him if he was sure he’d dropped them around here.

“No, I dropped them down at the other end of the block.”

“Then why are you looking for them here?”

“Because the light’s better here.”

I’m reminded of that joke whenever I see people protesting the war in Iraq, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, the war on terror, and in general kicking the US. I want to go up to them and ask them a few questions.

“So, you’re outraged about the US abuse of prisoners in that Iraqi prison?”

“That’s right! It’s indecent, it’s obscene, it’s a grotesque violation of human rights, and I want to see heads roll over it!”

“Yeah, it was pretty bad… are you also planning on protesting any other human rights abuses in other countries?”

“What do you mean?”

“Let’s see… librarians are locked up in Cuba, China won’t let people have more than one child, Sudan is practicing religious genocide, slavery is still going on in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Palestine Authority is praising suicide bombers and people who shoot pregnant women and little girls… how’s that for starters?”

“Er… um… ah… but we can’t do anything about that! Our hands aren’t clean!”

The simple truth that they won’t say is this: they protest human rights abuses here because they can. (Well, there’s also a certain amount of laziness involved in not wanting to travel to these other nations, too, but that’s a lesser point.) In other countries, protestors and dissidents are abused, arrested, locked up in mental hospitals, imprisoned, or killed. Here they’re featured on the evening news. They’re lionized by their colleagues, hailed in the press, and given fat book contracts. (See Michael Moore for a couple interpretations of that last clause.) There are a lot of places in the world where it can be profitable to abuse the US, but the number one place has to be here in the US.

J.


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Comments (3)

One thing about this post s... (Below threshold)
Fritz:

One thing about this post struck me as I read it...

“...I want to see heads roll over it!”

I've heard this said many times by our leaders and the media.

I hope that they realize by now that in Iraq this isn't a figure of speech. They'll expect heads to roll -- literally (no offense to Nick Berg).

The fact is we won't ever be able to satisfy the Iraqi need for revenge. We deal in justice, not retribution. That's the point Americans should be trying to make in a manner as reasonable as possible.

Fritz, the inappropriatenes... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Fritz, the inappropriateness of that phrase struck me about five seconds after I posted it. But I decided to leave it up. I don't like people who go back and hide their screwups (paging Micah Wright -- please pick up the yellow phone), so I figured I'd leave it there and see how fast someone would call me on it.

J.

They're also too lazy to pr... (Below threshold)
Paul Stinchfield:

They're also too lazy to protest outside an embassy located in the US...in the city where they live...a few blocks from work...before going home.




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