Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Predictable Violence Of Protests

Dissent & Dignity

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. 
Martin Luther King, Jr

Young Protesters Amass in Montreal as a group of mounted police look on. Many of the protesters wear the requisite black masks and hoist the black flag of the anarchists, an ideology that believes in stateless societies. Yet their use of such symbols is a western invention. The city of Montreal adopted a new bylaw on March 18 that has made it illegal to don a mask, scarf or hood during a public demonstration—thus making it illegal to hide your face while protesting. In addition, a proposed federal law would make it illegal to wear a mask, as is the case with some in this protest, during a riot or an unlawful assembly. The maximum penalty for wearing one in an unlawful assembly would be five years in prison, and 10 years for wearing one during a riot.
Photo Credit: Sheldon Levy, 2012

You see them come out regularly and predictably, protesting against Israel, America, Capitalism and The West, saying the words with apparent meaning and accompanied by malice, hate and evil intentions. "Death to Israel", "Death to the Jews", "Death to America," and "Death to Capitalism." Such anti-western, anti-Israel protests used to be much more common in Iran during the early years of the Islamic Revolution, but now citizens in Iran have more mundane interests like work and economic survival. Of course, they do come out during special holidays (i.e., "Quds Day", or Jerusalem Day), at the behest and sponsorship of Iran's Islamic government. Regular protests are very common still in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Predictably, we have come to expect such actions and thinking among many of the 56 members of the OIC, the Islamic nations that work and in harmony and co-operation toward their common goal—one being destroying Israel, the other, destroying the West and its ways. That explains one of the chief reasons why some Muslim students, radicalized and politicized by their perceived religious obligations for holy war, see a need to protest against the very West in which many have been raised and educated since birth. Protest signs, chants and demonstrations all call for the demise of the West in a party atmosphere. It's quite surreal, and yet quite real. They might not realize it but they have adopted more of the West than they would like to admit, including the liberty to protest.

The radical followers of Islam have found favour in the eyes of the New Left, also radicalized by their socialist or Marxist beliefs. Again, why the New Left has joined forces with radical Islam has some intelligent persons wondering what these groups, one highly religious, the other highly secular, have in common. That I'll leave to the experts, but I can discuss their methods. Each has a profound belief in radicalism to bring about a New World Order, an Utopia, if you will.

Such persons, living in the West, are not happy about their situation, and want everyone to know about it. They are not above using violent symbols and violent actions and vulgar signs to express their views, often filled with hateful rhetoric. Absent is any meaningful idea within the Western tradition of post-Enlightenment America. Absent is the idea that issues can be discussed and worked out within the democratic western tradition. No, it's about extreme language and extreme actions, as if that will serve their purposes.

That might explain why there is an absence of any protest against Syria, a nation that has killed more than 10,000 of its own citizens. If such protesters were truly concerned about brutal regimes, they might start with, for example, Syria, Iran and North Korea, where the freedom to dissent from government policy is severely restricted. But it's not the brutality that bothers them; for such persons, brutality can serve a purpose.

Third Selma March for Civil Rights—March 21, 1965: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, second from right, participating in the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on March 21, 1965. First row, from far left: John Lewis, an unidentified nun, Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Bunche, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Fred Shuttlesworth. Second row: Visible behind (and between) Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Bunche is Rabbi Maurice Davis.
More than 3,000 marchers set out on Sunday March 21 from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery; they walked 12 miles a day and slept in fields. By the time they reached the capitol on Thursday, March 25, they were 25,000 in number. The march led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act in July 1965. Rabbi Heschel later wrote, "When I marched in Selma, my feet were praying."
Source: Wikipedia
Today's protesters are cut from a different cloth. Unlike liberal and socially minded protesters in the last generation, such as during the civil-rights era of the 1960s, protesters today often have an unclear or unrealistic message. One of the major failures of today's group of protesters is that they tell you what they don't like or what they hate, but fail to frame their expectations in a realistic way. "Death to America," "Death to Israel," or "Death to the West" is not a viable option, and never will be. As is the message of the anarchists who outwardly broadcast their belief in a stateless society.

Do they expect the vast majority of persons in the West to accept their message? Do they expect the West and its economic system of capitalism to be replaced by Marxism or some other unproven and reckless economic system?  Do they expect Sharia law to become the de-facto legal system in the West? Do they expect education to be free? Some in their fantasies do, I expect. Most don't, but feel they ought to do something about their unhappiness, anger and inability to conform sufficiently to Western traditions.

When hate and anger become the centerpiece of a protest, only bad results can take place. The wearing of masks, scarves and hoods to hide one's identity— the cloak of anonymity— often emboldens persons to commit illegal acts without fear of consequences. Predictably, such  protests turn violent, especially when marxists, anarchists, anti-capitalists, anti-democracy and associated leftist unions join forces in an attempt to cause trouble and upset the social order.  Civil liberties does not include the right to cause mayhem and disturb the public peace.

The Constitution of most democracies tolerate peaceful assembly and legitimate protest, but not the use of violence. Never, and rightly so. The best way to achieve public support is to keep the peace and rein in the troublemakers. When violence takes place, it speaks of protesters who view violence as a normal and acceptable means to get results. Even when the protests might at first appear legal, they lose favour and legitimacy when violence occurs.

The student protests in Montreal and elsewhere in Quebec are recent examples [see here, here and here] of a failure of peaceful purpose. Such is a sign of the times—an protest movement that has no understanding on how to peacefully achieve its aims. Such speak volumes.


  1. The Occupy Movement and other current leftist causes are an attampt to turn the New Left into the Old Left and to embrace orthodox Marxism--the philosophy that gave us Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and the Kim Dynasty. What motivates people in the West to adopt such a position? The answer is anti-Zionism, the most powerful political force on earth today. Only anti-Zionism and no other cause could have created the Marxist-Islamic alliance.

    1. The fact that Jews have become the focal point of hatred is undeniable and a general failure of morality.


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