Running Scared: Observations of a Former Republican
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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Inauguration Protests and "Slacktivism"

posted by Mike at 1/08/2005 01:38:00 PM


Earlier this week, Jazz passed along information about Not One Damn Dime Day, a protest scheduled to coincide with Bush's January 20, 2005 inauguration.

While not meaning this to sound as if I'm criticizing my learned colleague (because, honestly, that's not how I intend it), I have to agree with some commentary I recently read on Snopes about this particular protest: it is slacktivism at a time when activism's needed.

Some protests are functional; they involve people taking direct action to achieve the desired result, such as chaining oneself to a tree to prevent its being cut down. Other protests are symbolic; they seek to inform the public or call attention to an issue through activities such as holding marches or making speeches. Sometimes protests are a combination of the two: chaining oneself to a tree is a functional but necessarily short-term solution, yet such an event is usually covered by the media and thus helps to publicize the cause of conservation.

So which form of protest is this supposed to be? Its ostensible purpose is a symbolic one -- to "remind the people in power that the war in Iraq is immoral and illegal" -- which leaves us wondering how this form of protest is supposed to help effect any change in circumstances.

The merits and conduct of the U.S. war with Iraq have been endlessly debated, in every medium [...] if the result desired by those who would engage in this protest hasn't yet been achieved, it's not because the issue hasn't received enough publicity or those "in power" are insufficiently aware of it.

All that aside, the suggested scheme is one of the least effective forms of symbolic protest one could devise: it literally proposes that people do nothing, and doing nothing generates little, if any, publicity or news coverage.

Personally, I'm hoping that Turn Your Back on Bush gathers some media attention. Of course, given the spin that Sen. Boxer's objection received from the mainstream media, I doubt they'll be growing spines any time soon.