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Why, Damnit Why?

If there's anything I hate more than the Farm Bill, it's protestors. Absolutely hate 'em. If people put all the time, energy, intelligence and ingenuity that they currently spend doing these things into boring jobs in Washington that involved ties and desks and offices then progressive politics would be about five times as effective as it is. Instead, we've got stuff like this message from RNC Not Welcome:

The idea is simple. Show up at 4:30 pm at one of the 8 locations where the Republican delegates will be attending Broadway shows, and remind them that these are our theaters, our streets, and OUR CITY.
Now the president of the United States is a very bad man. Neverthelss, you have to ask yourself what is so protest-worthy about the idea of his supporters taking in a Broadway show? Are we laying down the broad principle that only liberals should go to the theater? I mean, if you get a whole bunch of people together and bring them to NYC, of course a lot of them will want to see something on Broadway. It's the other ones, really, who you should be protesting. What else do they have to do that's so damn important?

August 29, 2004 | Permalink

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» Solidarity With The Protestors from elementropy
To claim that one is right and that the majority is wrong is, of course, morally perilous; every crank and megalomaniac is prone to make it. But to suggest, as Mr. Kennan seems to, that the claim can never be justified is to deny that human history o... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 30, 2004 1:11:43 AM

» PROTESTS IN NYC from DiscountBlogger
A propos my earlier post, Matthew Yglesias has some thoughts, some very correct ones, on protestors and how they should really get a more productive life:If there's anything I hate more than the Farm Bill, it's protestors. Absolutely hate 'em.... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 30, 2004 6:38:59 AM

» Clean for Gene 2004 from Left Center Left
Matt Yglesias groans when he sees the obtuseness of NYC's anti-Bush protestors: If there's anything I hate more than the Farm Bill, it's protestors. Absolutely hate 'em. If people put all the time, energy, intelligence and ingenuity that they currently [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 30, 2004 8:07:48 AM

» Huh? from the RANT:
By all accounts, the protest in New York was peaceful given the numbers (anywhere from 120K to 500K depending on who you chose to believe), much to the extreme chagrin of the media I would imagine. After all nothing sells... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 30, 2004 8:43:45 AM

» Huh? from the RANT:
By all accounts, the protest in New York was peaceful given the numbers (anywhere from 120K to 500K depending on who you chose to believe), much to the extreme chagrin of the media I would imagine. After all nothing sells... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 30, 2004 9:18:39 AM

» Why The Republican National Convention Protests in NYC Aren't More Organized from WurfWhile
It seems a bit silly. Reporters, some of them quite well read and intelligent, are critical of the New York City Republican National Convention protests because they lack a certain unity and clarity of purpose. Some writers are kinder, recognizing... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 31, 2004 12:13:33 AM

» KEEP THEM PROTESTERS PROTESTIN'! from Heretical Ideas
Both Matthew Yglesias and Rick DeMent have endorsed the idea that protesters shouldn't protest.If people put all the time, energy, intelligence and ingenuity that they currently spend doing these things into boring jobs in Washington that involved ties... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 31, 2004 1:21:07 AM

» quick takes from new york from riting on the wall
it'll take at least a week to get up to speed at work, let alone here, but some quick observations from new york: republican delegates are idiots. even besides the obvious tagging one's self as eminently muggable, wearing badges/stickers/buttons that c... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 31, 2004 5:29:11 PM

» Efficacy of Protest, Part I from Saheli*: Musings and Observations
This press release is interesting in light of a somewhat toungue-in-cheek post by Matthew Yglesias yesterday, and the resulting back and forth of comments . . .Most of the responders are angry, "you-don't-know-what-you're-talking-about" types, and th... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 31, 2004 6:12:07 PM

» PROTESTS, PROTESTS, PROTESTS from DiscountBlogger
At the Democratic National Convention, how many protests did you see by Republicans? Not many I would suspect. At the Republican National Convention, there are hundreds of thousands of Democratic protesters. The difference? Republicans actually have jo... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 2, 2004 5:36:41 AM

» Protest Efficacy from Three Sources
I get very few opportunities to link to and quote Matthew Yglesias, but a post of his captures what this post is about: If there's anything I hate more than the Farm Bill, it's protestors. Absolutely hate 'em. If people... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 5, 2006 5:26:10 PM

» Protest Efficacy from Three Sources
I get very few opportunities to link to and quote Matthew Yglesias, but a post of his captures what this post is about: If there's anything I hate more than the Farm Bill, it's protestors. Absolutely hate 'em. If people... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 5, 2006 5:30:13 PM

» Protest Efficacy from Three Sources
I get very few opportunities to link to and quote Matthew Yglesias, but a post of his captures what this post is about: If there's anything I hate more than the Farm Bill, it's protestors. Absolutely hate 'em. If people... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 5, 2006 5:34:09 PM

Comments

I'm sure you are right. But as a New Yorker I can't help feeling the Republicans are using my city. I know, speaking broadly, they don't like NYC. But they are here for the faux-patriotic appeal of returning to the scene of 9/11. Fuck that. Sure, they have the right to take in a Broadway show - but I'm going to try to make their stay unpleasant anyway if I get the chance. Welcome to New York.

Posted by: random new yorker | Aug 29, 2004 9:38:16 AM

Creative thinking....

Ad idea:

When America needed him, George W. Bush did not report for duty.

[Picture of Bush blowing bubble-gum bubble]
During the Vietnam War, which he supported, family friends got him into the National Guard, [picture of paperwork saying "was not observed'] where George W. Bush didn't did not report for duty.

[Picture of PDB saying "bin Laden determined to strike inside the U.S."]
When terrorists threatened the U.S.,
[footage of "Watch this drive"]
George W. Bush did not report for duty.

[Picture of Twin Towers]
When America was attacked,
["My Pet Goat" / deer in headlights]
George W. Bush did not report for duty.


Could be a series. About attacking aQ / ObL, protecting the surplus, protecting American jobs, health care, etc.

Posted by: MattB | Aug 29, 2004 9:43:00 AM

Jeez, Matthew -- don't turn into Todd Gitlin at such a young age. Protest is only one aspect of dissent and progressive politics. Some of it is ridiculous, yes, but a lot isn't. Plus, I seem to recall it being part of the American fabric going back to that weathered, torn, yellowed, often ignored and sometimes despised piece of paper with all the amendments . . .

Posted by: kyle s. | Aug 29, 2004 10:28:39 AM

Protest cage -- best invention ever.

Posted by: Brian | Aug 29, 2004 10:40:33 AM

"going back to that weathered, torn, yellowed"

Goes back farther than that. Our country was founded on a bunch of drunks in war-paint throwing other people's property into the Boston Harbor in the name of lower taxes.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 29, 2004 10:52:13 AM

I'm with MYand I think that the forms of contemporary protest prove that it's really ineffective. I think the theatricality of protest today stems from the glut of pointless protesting in the 90s. (The Million Mom March?) The act of protest can't hold the attention span of young protestors, who don't see the value of the silent, massive counterstatement that their hippie forebears did. So now protest has to be some sort of site-specific installation.

Posted by: Kriston | Aug 29, 2004 11:21:57 AM

Our country was founded on a bunch of drunks in war-paint throwing other people's property into the Boston Harbor in the name of lower taxes.

ROFL!

Yes, it's crucial to remember that the sanitized version of the American Revolution we have gotten for the past 180 years is not anything like what it was for those who lived it. Crass, chaotic, with a lot of grey areas and less-than-perfect characters on our side, (not to mention all the anti-war protestors and cartoonists in Britain) and a lot of the exact same issues and linkages in the Tories vs Liberals that are being made today.

(I imagine a time-traveller no matter what their political sympathies showing up from the end of the 18th century and seeing all the yelling about uncorsetted women and free love and and atheism and marriage laws and the French, my god, they're French sympathizers! and thinking that nothing had changed at all in 200+ years...)

And those scruffy unlicensed writers putting out these anonymous pamphlets full of rumour and exaggeration and not licensed by any legitimate authority - scandalous!

Posted by: bellatrys | Aug 29, 2004 11:25:03 AM

If people put all the time, energy, intelligence and ingenuity that they currently spend doing these things into boring jobs in Washington that involved ties and desks and offices then progressive politics would be about five times as effective as it is.

I have news for you, Matt. Those boring jobs aren't that easy to get. If you have some connections, and can afford to work as a unpaid intern, then you might get one eventually. That leaves out a lot of people.

Sure, lots of protests are silly or even counterproductive. But lots aren't, and it is important not to let political events get too sanitized.

Let's file this post under "Babies, bath water and."

Posted by: Bernard Yomtov | Aug 29, 2004 11:31:29 AM

I have news for you, Matt. Those boring jobs aren't that easy to get. If you have some connections, and can afford to work as a unpaid intern, then you might get one eventually. That leaves out a lot of people.

No kidding. How can I, an Irish immigrant whose main skills are in architecture do that? I can't! (nor would I be any good at it anyway) So I have no problem channeling my distaste for the Republicans using my backyard as a prop into a bunch of things - from going to work, to seeing some dissident films to, yes, taking a stroll in the streets with a bunch of other pissed off people.

Posted by: billyfrombelfast | Aug 29, 2004 11:40:57 AM

Writers prefer to rant and rave about Cheez Whiz on their blogs. People who like to wear silly costumes, perform skits, play angry tunes on the bagpipes, or shout really loudly prefer to take to the streets.

Same difference.

A bit of public display can be good for the soul. Are you saying that progressive causes would be better off if all these people channeled their anger at George Bush directly into the policy process? We've all seen what happens when angry hacks are invited to tinker with the machinery of a major political party. Better to let folks get the rage out of their system before asking them to calm down and think about serious things.

Posted by: GeorgeO | Aug 29, 2004 11:57:30 AM

Wow! I could really use a job in DC. I'd be ACE at it, too. Suggestions? Can any job leads?

Posted by: snit | Aug 29, 2004 12:32:29 PM

Whatever you might think about protest as a political tool historically, I think you have to agree that modern protest tends to be too ineffective to really be worth the trouble. While Matt claims that that energy would be better served in "boring jobs in Washington," and you can attack that specific example, I think the larger point that right now, the value you get for your man hours as a contemporary protestor is so low that those 20 hours a week you spend organising a protest, flyering, etc, would be better used working at McDonalds and donating your salary.

Posted by: Andrew Ti | Aug 29, 2004 12:51:50 PM

Not only that, Mr. Ti, but what the tribalists, be they Republican or Democrat, consistently fail to grasp is that roughly one third of the electorate doesn't belong to either tribe, and to them such actions merely confirm the suspicion that the tribalists are a bunch of A-holes. This was evident in the over-the-top anti-Clinton nonsense, and how non-aligned voters reacted.

Of course, exciting the tribe members is as important as appealing to those outside the tribes, but does this sort of action really do this? Do Democrats view the happenings in New York, and think to themselves, "Look at those damned demonic Republicans; they are attending Broadway shows!!!!!! Let's make sure we vote this November!!!!"

I also rather doubt whether such actions discourage the Republican tribe. All in all, this seems pointless at best, counter-productive at worst.

Posted by: Will Allen | Aug 29, 2004 1:12:56 PM

getting involved gives reality to ones feelings; and starts one on aroad to action.
Protesting can/does build "ownership" (to borrow the latest gop platform) and leads to greater commitment. with an election looming, voting comes as necessity.
while I would hope that protest does not turn violent, it is empowering to see hundred of thousands of like-minded individuals turn out and say 'enough'.

Posted by: daudder | Aug 29, 2004 1:23:45 PM

As long as it's non-violent, any kind of dissent against the governing cabal is good thing. However a person chooses to express this displeasure with Bush is the person's own business.

At least these folks are actively participating on the political stage, unlike the host of this blog, who seems content merely to play the haughty role of carping theater critic.

Posted by: Night Owl | Aug 29, 2004 1:26:01 PM

Oh wait, I can do that one, too. You know, if all those bureaucratic hacks with ties and desks would actually go make a statement on the street, national news might actually notice progressive politics.

Sorry Matt, what an oversimplification of all protest. Some of us have high-paying, intelligent, creative jobs with desks in corporations, but they're unrelated to politics. My bad, I chose the wrong line of work I guess. So I decided, in the runup to the war, to attend my first protest at the age of 39. It was either that or remain silent and give my unstated approval to the madness. Now who was using the only tool at their disposal for the public good? And yes, I'm looking at YOU when I ask that.

Posted by: ScrewyRabbit | Aug 29, 2004 1:35:43 PM

I agree with kriston's comment about the surfeit of inane protesting in the '90s, but I don't see that as particularly a departure in kind from activities in, at least, the late '60s. The sort of protesting you find in the civil rights movement in the early '60s--the freedom riders and that kind of shit--is fairly anomolous, imo, in the late '60s. At any rate, there's no shortage of self righteous goon squads taking to the streets in the late "hippie" '60s. Think about, e.g., the SDS led student riots in 1968, and, saliently, at the Chicago DNC. I think you can find in the late '60s, in spades, the same sort of unintelligent conception of a moral high ground that inspires these people to heckle republicans going to the theater.

Posted by: spacetoast | Aug 29, 2004 1:47:20 PM

If any of these protestors are leaving a swing state for a week to carry a paper-mache puppet through the streets of New York, they are wasting their time. They could be volunteering for a contested Congressional campaign, registering voters, or passing out yard signs, for chrissake. Any of these activities would be more effective than theatrical "dissent".

Posted by: tew | Aug 29, 2004 1:52:40 PM

hey matthew, don't be a geek... join your fellow humans in public displays of dissent and unity. celebrate the creative, activist tradition of our species... geez, are you even thirty yet?

Posted by: travy | Aug 29, 2004 1:59:06 PM

Some progressives are protesting, getting news coverage, and even sharing a split screen on tv with Cheney's Ellis Island speech.

Some progressives are subtly reinforcing the Republican frame that suggests protestors are crazy, possibly dangerous, out-of-touch, America-haters.

So far at least, the first group seems to be more effective.

Posted by: WholeWorldIsTivoing | Aug 29, 2004 2:01:04 PM

What I'm most concerned about regarding the protests is that everyone seems to be wearing stereotypical liberal casual clothing--tank top with bandanna, etc. If we got a quarter of a million people to march in suits, holding signs saying "Boring Middle-Class People Against Bush", now THAT would be noticed.

Posted by: Maureen | Aug 29, 2004 2:03:05 PM

Jesus fucking Christ, Matt. You lefties actually have something that the right whingers don't have and you treat it like a negative. Fuck the right whingers. Don't let them get away with pushing the notion that protesting is a bad thing. They're just jealous because their protests. . .oops, what protests. They suck at them and so they want to tarnish them and libs like you play right into their hands by echoing their propaganda. /rant

Posted by: Robert McClelland | Aug 29, 2004 2:25:25 PM

Did a protester kill your parents when you were little?

Posted by: Capt. Jean-Luc Pikachu | Aug 29, 2004 2:26:19 PM

But didn't Donald Rumsfeld himself say that "Democracy is messy"?

And I'm beginning to worry about your irrational fear of puppets, Matt...

Posted by: oodja | Aug 29, 2004 2:27:24 PM

MattY, what the heck is a party convention except a large, indoor political rally?

I find no problem with letting the political ralliers indoors (the Republicans) being forced to face political ralliers who oppose them outdoors (the protestors) when they step outside Madison Square Garden.

Posted by: Constantine | Aug 29, 2004 2:36:44 PM

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