It is not a new phenomenon for people to protest what they believe to be un- just. The concept of speaking out against a tyrannical government is how the United States was born. However, I believe something vital has been lost in the art of protesting: grace.
When reality starts to clash with morality, people become very impassioned with what they believe to be morally, economically and politically correct. Unfortunately, with the recent election of President Donald Trump, the U.S. has felt a lot more divided in what the opinion of “right” really means.
I am not saying that everybody and everything was in perfect harmony before the election. I am also not saying protests have not become violent in the past. These types of things have happened before, and they will un-doubtedly happen again. However, I have a question. What good does it do to violently protest anything?
I understand the logic behind a peaceful assembly of people who feel wronged. That makes perfect sense.
A group of people demonstrating their stance on issues actively, intelligently and within the confines of the law shows their willingness to debate, rationalize and discover a working solution to a dilemma. The same cannot be said for rioters who assault people, burn garbage in the streets and vandalize private businesses in the name of their cause.
The New York Times reported people at the University of California Berkeley in masks were lighting fires, smashing windows and assaulting people during their protest of a presentation by Milo Yiannopoulos, a controversial editor for Breit- bart News. This follows another violent protest in Seattle on Inauguration Day Jan. 20. Violent masked protesters tried to prevent a speech by Yiannopoulos and a 34-year-old anti-fascist was shot and severely injured.
To me, these violent actions only serve to demonize the cause being promoted by the protesters. Holding a sign that reads “not my president” while being part of a group that indiscriminately damages property, injures people and promotes anarchy in the street does absolutely noth- ing positive for their cause.
People voted for Trump for many reasons, but a big one was his promise of more distinct acts of law and order. What exactly do people think this violent behavior does for those people? It reinforces their core value. Some people see martyrs fighting for a cause, while others see whiny “snowflakes” causing mass chaos in the streets.
Violent left-wing protesters are quite literally handing the right-wing ammunition to use against them.
It provides the opposition with the exact image of violent self-centered riots that they have been hoping to plaster all over social media.
They are effectively working against themselves by portraying the exact behavior they are protesting.
To clarify, I am not a democrat or a republican. I do not believe in taking sides. I believe all the two- party system does is divide the nation, leaving one half overwhelmingly angry with the other instead of focusing on the problems at hand.
I do believe in freedom of speech. It would make my job difficult if I didn’t. So, if there is wrong in the world, by all means, protest it. If something is unjust, speak up.
However, protest the way it is condoned in the Bill of Rights. The right to “peacefully assemble” does not pro- tect smashing the windows out of a Wells Fargo.
Andrew Ward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org