The goal of any demonstration is to get people to know about your cause and sway opinion in your favor. To do that, you need to get attention – the more the better. In Charlottesville this weekend, a protest which should have been a relatively small event, garnering very little national attention, turned into a worldwide media event – focusing massive attention on the protesters.
What happened in Charlottesville is a travesty. A protest against the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue by a group of “White-Nationalists / Neo-Nazis” and a clash with a counter-demonstrators turned violent. The police lost control of the situation, a young woman got run over by a lunatic Nazi driving a car into the crowd, numerous other injuries occurred, two police officers died in a crashed helicopter, and our nation is once again torn apart by politics and hate.
I am not going to discuss here whether the Lee statue should come down. Nor will I discuss any of the hateful rhetoric that has been spewed about. I am not interested in the accusations that say this is somehow Donald Trump’s fault or those who use this for political divisiveness and gain. However, there is plenty of blame to go around. I direct that blame at the all the people who showed up in Charlottesville, including the media. The latter of which, love this kind of event because it generates big ratings. What I do want to discuss is a common-sense solution to dealing with this kind of protest that prevents violence and doesn’t help hateful protesters with their cause.
If someone or some group is going to engage in an in-person protest, and you are against them, don’t show up to counter-protest. When you do, you draw more attention to the cause you are trying fight against. It just happened in a tragic way in Charlottesville. If the counter protesters didn’t show up, how much news coverage do you think a demonstration over a Robert E. Lee statue removal would get? The answer is that it would have been out of the news in half a day with a small percentage of the people even hearing about it. The idea is to make protestors earn their attention – not hand it to them through in-person conflict with them and the resulting media storm that will likely occur.
Now, I am not saying to not fight for what is right. If you think a group is wrong or evil and they need to be called out, you should absolutely do so with all your heart. While they are on location screaming their lungs out to a relatively small group of listeners, you could be sitting in the comfort of your own home or community using your brain, your keyboard and your mouth from far where you won’t need to use your fists. Use power tools like social media, writing and speaking out about it. Your group could write, call or email your Congressman or Senator en masse. You could boycott organizations that do business with the other group.
That’s common-sense protesting to win – and the way avoid violence.
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