Recently there have been many news reports of protests on all forms of media such as the Women’s March, Planned Parenthood protesting, and protests against President Trump’s Muslim Ban. The list continues to grow as we all ask: Why do the people protest? And why do some bystanders believe protesting is useless?

According to columnist, Petula Dvorak from The Washington Post, “Decent Americans have somehow lost their ability to control all the wrong impulses. Sore losers protesting the democratic process are just as useless as hate-filled winners sneaking around towns painting swastikas and racist graffiti.” Dvorak advised, “Protest Trump’s actions and policies. Pressure members of Congress. Work like mad to get rid of the electoral college if you’ve had it with the system. Support candidates in the 2018 elections who can make real change. You students walking out of class need to hold on to that rage and carry it into adulthood, fight complacency and fight for the system you want. That is what democracy looks like.”

To be clear, riots and protests are defined differently. Riots involve violent actions and protests or demonstrations are statements of objection. Dvorak’s metaphor in describing a protest was more correlated with a riot than a protest. She generalized protesters as students that had no knowledge of who they voted for and what democracy is. Free speech is a form of democracy because it is a right protected by the Constitution. When people condemn protests, are they not criticizing the right to freedom of speech?

Elvera Guirevich, a writer for Odyessy, lists a few reasons why protests are not useless:

  1. It’s one of the most American things you can do.
  2. I can and will speak for others.
  3. Activism and policy change cannot occur in hindsight.
  4. We cannot remain silent.
  5. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Protests are often viewed in a negative limelight due to the association of anger and outrage with such demonstrations. But as long as there is no violence and it is an indeed a peaceful protest, there is no shame in standing up for individualistic beliefs.

 

Picture Credits: Marcus Fox

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