Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Direct Action Protests Alone Don't Get You Human Rights Coverage

One of the things that I consistently see far too often in the liberal progressive ranks especially amongst the younglings is this overhyped belief that direct action protest alone will bring change and human rights advances to marginalized people. 

They cite the activism and protests of the 60's in terms of the African-American civil rights movement and the anti Vietnam War movement and believe if they replicate that, the causes they espouse will be successful as well. 

What you peeps fail to realize is this is a new century that requires tweaking of those tactics because the Forces of Intolerance who lost those battles in the 60's and early 70's have a playbook based on their failures for containing or breaking up your protests so that they thwart what you're trying to accomplish.  

You are also failing to realize in terms of the African-American civil rights movement is that there was a coherent long term strategy behind those direct action marches and protests.  In addition to lawsuits, the power of the African-American vote was part of that strategy and acquiring it for the people that didn't have the ability to vote was one of its goals.  In addition there were behind the scenes negotiations going on in the local areas targeted by those direct action protests with just the threat of a protest in some cases being enough to get change happening.  

To give you an example of that, my hometown was able to desegregate lunch counters without the violence that happened in the rest of the old Confederate states.  Houston was in the running not only to get one of the two National League baseball expansion teams that became the Astros and the Mets, but was one of the finalists to be the home for NASA's Mission Control.  

When Texas Southern University students began to plan sit-in's at downtown lunch counters, the nervous civic leaders 'scurred' that it would ruin Houston's chances of getting NASA's Mission Control and major league baseball here approached a group of Black ministers led by Rev. William Lawson to see what it would take to get the TSU students to dissuade them from doing so. 

Their price to call it off was not only desegregation of Houston lunch counters but a guarantee of a certain percentage of Black contractors and construction workers to be hired to do the construction work on the Astrodome. 

That strategic thinking employed here in Houston was evident on the national level as well with lobbying by the Big Five civil rights leaders of the African-American civil rights movement on Capitol Hill with congressional and executive branch leaders to pass the legislative relief that African-Americans needed.

So for all you peeps screaming that direct action protest is enough and you don't want to participate in the political process, that's been your biggest failure and why I and many others cognizant of this history are lukewarm toward the Occupy movement.

The ballot is the most critical part of it.  If you think I'm kidding, why is ALEC and the Republican Party spending millions to suppress voting rights for non-whites and college students?    You also haven't come up with a long term political strategy to enact the things you protested for and the fact that you discount the power of the ballot shows me you were asleep in you political science classes.  

Note that the Tea Klux Klan folks not only conducted those protest rallies during the 2010 election cycle but backed it up in November by bumrushing the polls and successfully (to my disgust) running candidates for office that espoused their jacked up political philosophies.. 

So no younglings, protests alone will not get you the progressive social change you seek.  You need a stick to threaten recalcitrant politicians with and the specter of pissed off voters trooping en masse to the ballot box is it.   Also continuing to vote in massive numbers over your lifetime will also accomplish the human right progress you seek much faster than just huge direct action events such as marches with no coherent follow up plan

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