Strategic Protesting

Strategic Protesting

The problem with recent protests

Jasmine Arselan – CONTRIBUTOR


Protests are the voice of the people, but sometimes they must be used with caution and grace.

Over the last few weeks, since Donald Trump’s inauguration, there have been numerous protests against the new American president, his string of executive orders, and his cabinet nominees. These protests were carried out with the supposed intention of being peaceful and making a change, but in certain instances, they have resulted in riots that not only damaged property, but hurt people.

Like any individual who shares the Western belief of power to the people, I can appreciate peaceful protests against government actions that are disagreeable to a significant number of people. However, it seems to me that most of these protests do not carry much serious meaning or purpose. In fact, they often merely seem to be jabs at Trump as an individual, rather than marches to gain something of value. Protests should posses a certain level of strategic importance — they should not be used for anything and everything.

The first example of such an event that comes to mind is the protests against Trump’s inauguration itself. People were running around, shouting, “Love Trumps hate,” and “Not my President,” with the intention of achieving the impossible (or, at least, with the intention of being a disruption). In the past, when a group of people protested, they did so with a plausible goal in mind, with terms that they wanted negotiated. When individuals protest aimlessly, as they were in American streets after Trump’s inauguration, it destroys the impact of protests, regardless of their size.

Speaking of pointless protests, let’s talk about the protests at UC Berkeley. While they had a goal in mind (their wishwas to prevent someone from making a presentation) the level of violence in this protest completely derailed their cause. Protesters were seen chasing people down and beating them, a girl was pepper-sprayed while she was talking to a reporter, and an ATM was broken — and these were just some of the many pointlessly aggressive acts that were performed during this protest. The protesters showed clear violence, and demonstrated an act of intimidation rather than protest with the sheer level of violence present.

This has me wondering: what would happen if protests continue to be carried out in this manner. Protest continue to include intimidation, riots and damage, that seem to be made for the cause of aimless jabs. 

How is the US to respond to these riots or protests? It is difficult to tell, since if the United States were to prevent them, they would be defying the constitution that is held so highly in the nation. But it is also known that, as much as the people of the United States value the constitution, some are willing to break it to achieve various agendas. 

Trump is far from a saint, and he might attempt to use these protests as justification to bar protests from happening in certain or all cases, and he could potentially use this to consolidate his power.

This leads us to the central purpose of this complaint. These protests show a complete disregard for political strategy. By protesting aimlessly and causing issues, as stated previously, the people are allowing Trump to use this to disavow his opponents as people who simply want blood rather than change. On top of this, the protests are about issues that are currently very divided. Normally, this would be fine, as seen in the civil rights march from Martin Luther King. But this time, it’s different. King played with the underdog effect, which gained a lot of support, and his protesters were peaceful. 

This time, the Trump camp and the individuals who support him are the ones using the underdog effect. Trump supporters are constantly bashed in media, social networks, etc.. His success in the election shows that there is a lot of hidden support. Also, the fact that right wing candidates are becoming successful across the globe points to the fact that there is a right-wing counter-movement. This is relevant because attempting to make a large-scale movement against a counter-movement causes insane tension. These tensions could build up into something far more massive, if the clashes get more intense. If it comes to that point, there could be true chaos.

Left-wingers like to claim that they are the more educated individuals. In recent times, while many left-wingers are maintaining smart political maneuvering to block Trump’s actions, there are many common folk who are breaking this delicate balance, and if caution is not taken this could end up being catastrophic.