Dissent & Dignity
—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
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."
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.