By Carrington Tatum
Protesting has become less about pressuring the government to make a change and more about individual gratification.
With the election of president Trump, there has been a drastic increase in the number of “protests” taking place across the country. These protests feature different factions such as Feminists, LGBTQIA, and people generally dissatisfied with the Trump administration.
We have even seen more protests here on campus both big and small. It seems that if President Trump has begun new and unfavorable legislation or made another distasteful comment towards a minority group; there is bound to be a protest on campus to express disapproval of his actions.
I am all in favor of civic engagement and open dialogue among students about these issues; but I question the effectiveness and motivations of these protests.
When Donald Trump became the president-elect, there was a protest in the Quad that was hard to miss if you are in any way active on campus. Many students at the protest claimed that they were doing their part in making change in our country. Some likening the protest to those of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s.
However, I find this comparison misplaced as the protests of the Civil Rights Movement were consistent and focused efforts organized by concrete figures like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The movement also implemented civil disobedience which at the time meant breaking laws that they viewed as unfair. For which they were persecuted through incarceration and brutality. That meant when you participated in a protest you were risking injury, jail time, or ultimately death.
Today’s protests are much more comfortable, featuring social hour at the Stallions if with security from UPD. Once you’re done putting in a long day of chanting while holding your cutely decorated sign, and maybe arguing with the occasional passerby that expresses disagreement; you can return to your home and sleep peacefully just before you go back to your regular class schedule feeling proud that you are helping disrupt the corrupt powers that be.
With any productive protest, whether it be the Civil Rights Movement, the Boston Tea Party, the Labor Movement, or Women’s Suffrage; there is a significant hazard to engaging in this form of political discourse.
The drastic lack of risk involved with today’s protests compared to that of former movements, signifies a lack of the conviction needed for a protest to evoke some sort of change from the government.
Take note that many modern protests also fall flat because they fail to follow through with legislation and the formal engagement needed for actual change once the gathering is over. Many of the people protesting Trump’s election are some of the millions who didn’t vote at all seeing that voter turnout was down from 2008 in what was supposed to be an even more divisive election.
Perhaps these protests are Millennials longing to be iconic in our youth like the Hippies of Generation X or the Freedom Fighters of the Baby Boomers. Being “a part of history” now seems like an opportunity to be as revered as the historical figures we read about in our history classes rather than being so committed to change that we are willing to sacrifice our comfort.
But if we continue to protest for every move that President Trump makes with no further pressure past chanting, then we will devalue the method of protest. Protesting will become common place and in the eyes of the government we will become the boys and girls who cry wolf.
– Carrington Tatum is a business management freshman.