PORTSIDE

Four keys to a successful protest

Trevor Mischka, Portside Editor

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Do you want to be the next Martin Luther King Jr.? Are you tired of seeing burning trash cans on the news and wondering “Why does this keep happening every time Greg is angry” Do you have a burning distrust for “the man” and want to scream out to your neighbors and to the heavens about it? Well today’s your lucky day, Buster, because I’m going to teach you to protest like a champ in this article. DJ Khaled has blessed me with the major keys. I’ve Identified some simple tropes haunting 2017’s recent protests and I’m going to spell out exactly how to cleanse your protest from these demons and drive your protest, should you choose to have one, into success!

Key #1 Debate me!
Who remembers that movie from 2012 starring the comedic genius Sacha Baron Cohen where he plays a caricature of a north-African dictator? The love interest for Cohen in the film was a caricature of an American left-wing activist who is introduced in the film as a protestor protesting Aladeen (Sacha), who takes him in, thinking he is a refugee to work at her natural foods store.
One problem I had with her character was that she refused to debate Aladeen’s hilariously wrong and easily refutable statements. She could’ve brought up his indisputable racism, blatant sexism, and horrific violent tendencies with her informed and superior western attitudes to render his actions irrelevant! The purpose of bringing up such a divisive, yet hilarious, film is that without argument, without debate, your point is going to go silent and be swept under the rug. Without an active argument, absolutely nothing is going to change.
Another example of this is a recent campus visit by Vice Media founder, Takimag and Rebel Media contributor; Gavin McInnes. McInnes, being a man with unpopular views in the eyes of today’s left, was greeted with heavy protest at NYU. The protest included spraying pepper spray in his eyes as he walked in, screaming every name in the book at him, and during his speech a group of students chanted “Whose campus? Our campus!” so loudly that he couldn’t be heard over the speakers. Always ready for conflict of any kind, he decided to point a microphone at one of the prominent chanting protesters asking for a debate. The debate he requested went unanswered as the protestor continually screamed in his face: “Whose campus? Our campus!”
Protesting comes in many forms and is a form of speech that shouldn’t be silenced. Public speaking is another form of free speech that should be heard even if you disagree with the words being spoken. The art of the debate has been prominent throughout all of America’s governmental history. Without debate, screaming “Whose campus? Our campus!” is just that: a scream. To successfully render McInnes’ points irrelevant, and for your point to be infinitely superior to his is to argue your point into the ground with facts and realistic scrutiny in the classic form of debate. Your point should be different than your opposition and your explanation should be damning to your opposition, proving them wrong.
Avoiding conflict and debate does not lead to a successful protest. Nobody goes to court asking to have their charges dropped without evidence as to why they should be dropped in the first place. The success of your debate should change the minds of your opposition and vocalize the change that you want; whether it being that you believe somebody is an idiot for their views, or to pass/change legislation. Staying silent doesn’t change anything.

Key #2 Unify your argument, unify your men (and women, duh)
Who remembers the women’s march that took place just after the inauguration of Donald Trump? Me too! Who can tell me what the unifying point that united these defiant women to argue and change was? Crickets. The topic of “woman” is insanely broad and even those who were there, no definitive point of change was made to unify the march.
One of the founders of the march, Linda Sarsour, gave a speech at the march in D.C. about being Pakistani, Muslim, woman, and proud! Along with emotionally charged anti-Trump rhetoric. Her logo for the march was a dolled-up woman in an American flag hijab. She has been alleged to have ties to Brotherhood-Hamas, with interests including the support of Sharia law as law in America.
Another prominent speaker who headlined the march in Austin, Texas, was Wendy Davis, a feminist speaker for the Democratic Party. She stated in an interview that general rights of women might be taken away and that nobody has all of their rights yet and advocated for equal pay. Furthermore, Steven Crowder, a political commentator and host of the “Louder with Crowder” show, went around the march conducting man-on-the-street style interviews in drag. His intentions were to find the point of the march from the people participating. What he got was boatloads of confusion. He saw many signs and costumes referring to Trump’s infamous grabbing quote and a lot of anti-Trump decor. His conclusion was that sexual objectification is bad, unless it’s done by “Free the Nipple,” female power; and allegedly Donald Trump wants to infringe upon women’s right but no specific rights were given as an example besides the slim possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade.
The best part of protesting and debate is getting your point across in a statement of defiance and being a voice of change in a group. A group must have a unifying factor. The biggest unifying factor that brought the women’s march together was everybody wearing p****hats that were being passed out by Davis for, um, equality?
My point in painting this march in such a confusing light is that there was no single unifying issue advocating change except for a bunch of infamous tropes from third wave feminism and the hatred of President Trump. Very broad subjects talked about in very broad ways is unconvincing to the opposition in a protest and an argument. Having a couple good one-liners and cute anti-somethings on posters does not equal good points. Possibly funny T-shirts. Most lines and broad statements are opinions, but without facts to back them up, opinions can be easily rebutted by your opposition and render your actions irrelevant.
The best way to protest is to pick a single issue and stick to it, know what you want to change, and how to change it. When you have those, argue and scream your argument into the ground! Mostly, make your point known. Without a clear and decisive point to unify your protest, it becomes an amorphous blob of too many ideas that fades into background noise to people who you are trying to convince. If people walk away confused like Mr. Crowder at the end of his interviews, your protest did a bad job.

Key #3 How you protest IS more important than your argument
Milo Yiannopoulos, senior editor at Breitbart news and professional provokator, has been traveling the US on his “Dangerous Faggot” college tour. The tour talks about conservatism in his trademark, non-traditional manner at colleges and universities. He argues that the university experience is almost entirely to the left with most teachers on the left, that somebody could go through the education system without ever hearing a conservative idea. Being a controversial figure, he is usually met with a decent amount of protest. Recently he was scheduled at UC Berkeley to talk about the cultural appropriation phenomenon. He was greeted to a “peaceful” protest that got so far out of control he had to be evacuated from the campus. Riot police had to be called due to the severity of the violence and destruction to the surrounding area. The protest was more of a moshpit of hateful actions dancing to the beat of chaos. Videos surfaced of the riot depicting rioters beating women with flag poles while screaming “Love Trumps Hate.”
How you protest is more important than what you protest. Is throwing Molotov cocktails, burning cars, assaulting people, and pepper spraying your opposition actually protesting? It’s not, It’s rioting. Opposing the appearance of somebody who you disagree with is all fine and dandy, until you start beating people because of conflicting views. These are conflicts of opinions where the wars are fought with ideas, not John Wick’s revenge vendetta. Censoring somebody else’s speech does not make yours more valuable.
Don’t be worse than your opposition. If they’re simply speaking, and you’re committing acts of violence; it is only legitimizing their point and making your side look like a group of savage beasts.
In the dating world, the best pointer I was ever given was “always move with purpose.” To me, moving with purpose means not wasting time with unnecessary gestures, statements, and making what you do count. In the realm of protesting, this is also prominent in strategies of changing people’s opinion. Keep your movements purposeful by picking the right locations and days for your protest, places, movements and gestures that would be meaningful to somebody whose opinion you want to change.
When Stanley Kubrick directed his 1999 film Eyes Wide Shut starring Tom Cruise, he made him walk through a single door 95 times to get a perfect take. The sad part is, it is unclear which scene that even happened in. His meticulous nature, constant reshooting, adjusting, and script changes made him legendary because his vision was his perfect embodiment of what he wanted the viewer to see. He always moved with purpose, showed the viewer exactly what he wanted them to see, and made his work perfect because of it. Your protest should be the same way. It should be a perfect embodiment of your argument. Your argument, presentation, and the way you stick it to the man should be purposeful. This will give you the ability to at least look like you know what you are doing, and not be a colossal mess of ununified anger.
Like the lessons of teachers, parents, and pop culture in our youth, “actions speak louder than words.” To make your words count, you have to meet them with actions worthy of your cause. The only sound a fist makes is “SMACK;” our mouth works better for expressing ideas. Violence will never be as good as civil disobedience, honest debate, and convincing people to come to your side of the fence. If violence needs to be used, it should be used lawfully and/or tastefully. Cases of self-defense count as lawful, and a protest like the boston “Tea Party” use it tastefully within the context of its time. Otherwise, protesting is not burning a garbage can because you’re angry, it is burning your opposition’s ideas with your superior argument to commit change.

Key #4 Don’t expect too much
You’re angry. You’ve fine-tuned your argument. You screen printed t-shirts, and painted your signs. Your group is getting together and you’ve called for a police escort. You walk into the street shouting ideas, talking to passers-by about blah-blah trying to convince them to your side. You make them think, laugh, convince them, or civilly disagree. The problem is, after your long day of protesting, what happened? Did you try to lead your people to champion your cause? Did you inspire people to stray away from their views to join your side of the issue? Or did your protest end up being not all that worth it in the first place?
The problem with protesting is it’s gathering support for change instead of actually implementing change. Instead of sticking it to the man, you are convincing people of things they, too, shouldn’t be happy with him about. Instead of being Brad Pitt taking Nazi scalps with his inglorious team, you’re still on American soil gathering grassroots support to send more troops. Remember what you’re actually doing: gathering support for a cause that may or may not happen in the first place.
Your protest’s impact may not be anywhere near what you initially expected. Instead of a unified march, it could end up turning into an unorganized mess of ideas and violence. It might even be mocked in the press or on the internet. It could be forgotten and unreported, or reported as something you never wanted it to be known for.
When you’re protesting, think: “what am I actually here for?”Are you here simply to impress somebody you think is a cutie, or do you sincerely believe in the message being preached? Are you here because this view is fashionable? Do you just want people to like you, or do you sincerely have passion for the subject?
Even if you sincerely believe what you’re advocating for, what do you want this to be remembered for? The stellar irrefutable points? The drastic extremes of your movement? Or as a definitive symbol of your movement? The reality of how others will receive your movement will surprise you. Ask yourself hard questions, because realizing why you are doing something is more revealing to who you are as a person and what you truly believe in. Whether it is to scream your cause at the top of a mountain or back away from something that isn’t what you want at all. Sometimes the best protest is not to protest at all.

In conclusion, when you protest, instead of being there to annoy your opposition or saying nothing, argue something. Know what you’re arguing and how to change it, don’t become a convention of yes-men or a melting pot of too many ideas. Act, argue, protest, and ideologically look like you know what you’re doing, you’ll convince more people that way. Protest in a way that doesn’t get people hurt or make your argument look unattractive to the unconvinced. Lastly, don’t expect too much. Happy protesting!

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