Thursday, September 17, 2009
There is one thing for sure about protests, no matter what the cause, they will attract nut jobs. This is one reason why I normally dislike them and rarely attend them (I have participated in only a couple protests in my lifetime. Luckily, for me, the protests were well organized and the issue was clear). The message of the protest morphs to be something that is counter to the original intention. Anti-war protests become anarchist and communist magnets, muddling the message of no war. The tea party protests become birther and racist magnets, muddling the message of government overreach. This is mostly due to a lack of organization within a protest, causing hostile message carriers to dilute the image and message, ultimately ruining any chance of convincing observers to their cause.
Yet one thing that I dislike more than protests is the media ignoring them or portraying all of them as nut jobs. The anti-war protests in response to the Iraq war were large and widespread throughout the world, yet were mostly ignored* by the media. Why? They did not fit the media's narrative. While my views have changed over the years on Iraq (was anti-war, then reconsidered due to borderline ethnic cleansing taking place in Iraq), I will never forget the lack of coverage of millions of people protesting. This can also be said of the protests of government overreach, where those who are protesting do not fit the media narrative. There is a difference though, whereas the anti-war protests were largely ignored, the government overreach protests are widely covered, and misrepresented. With some of the media going as far as to call ALL of the protesters “teabaggers,” it shows a very ugly side of journalism. The protesters have legitimate points, and to ignore them, is to be biased and unfair (looking at you MSNBC and CNN). On the other hand, to be completely in favor of the protests, is to also be biased and unfair (looking at you Fox News and the polivangelist Glenn Beck). This not only hurts the credibility of the media, yet it also ruins the chance for a casual observer to hear all sides of the argument.
Here is what I think needs to take place:
1. Those protesting government overreach need to organize better, and to reject the racists and birthers who want to join them.
2. The media needs to treat opposition to Obama fairly, without portraying ALL of them as lunatic nut jobs.
Photo from: Howstuffworks History
Be sure to look at The New Centrist's take on demonstrations.
*Update 1: The protests of 2003.
Update 2: Be sure to check the comments.