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The Point of Protesting

One Ridiculous Argument Against Protesting for Social Justice

I just want to respond to an argument that I’ve been hearing regarding the protests around Ferguson, Eric Garner, etc. I’ve also heard some variation of this argument offered regarding other protest movements.

First, the moronic argument:

“Why don’t all of these people hollering about the police protest gang violence and black on black crime?”

My response:

Protesting criminals makes no sense. That’s why they don’t do it. Protest is a method for speaking to power and building community. As such, it is exactly the wrong method for addressing black on black crime or gang violence. True, community gatherings have come together to address rampant gang crime, but this kind of action is hardly protest, more community organizing. A large enough, ardent enough protest can, conceivably, catch the attention of those in power. When people feel that the legitimate means for redress are not available to them, protest becomes a reasonable option. This is not the case when criminals act against a community. There is not chance that a criminal or gang banger will change his wicked ways upon seeing people take to the streets. If anything, he will see that as an opportunity to pursue more crime.

Look, it’s not like black communities have done nothing to address black on black crime and gang violence. In fact, one could speculate that their attention has been largely successful as the incidence of black on black crime has declined. Gang activity has been rising, which is to be expected when the legitimate means of attainment has collapsed. It’s just that protesting is not a reasonable response.

The given argument sounds good. It probably plays well among the unthinking. It’s just completely idiotic. It’s like saying, “doing heart surgery on people with bad hearts is so hypocritical if we are not also doing heart surgery on diabetics.” It’s the wrong procedure.

Don’t believe for a minute that those who created this argument actually believe it. This is just another attempt to steer attention away from the complex issues, like endemic racism in our institutions of social control, and to support the status quo.

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