The mythical power of protest marches
Sunday, March 26, 2006
When was the last time the right got all up in arms and flooded the streets with chanting protesters? I mean beside the 4th of July, seriously, why is this such a staple of the left?
I think it has a lot to do with the civil rights movement and it's importance to our society. This was a tremendous wrong and in large part it was the same folks who now rhyme poorly about blood for oil, who righted it. They did a fair amount of marching in support of this goal, but this was a truly universal and unquestioned wrong, and even those who tried to maintain the reactionary, racist status quo were marginalized. But it was the horrifying barbarity of their beliefs that sunk them, not the mellifluous musicality of the chanting marchers. The strains of "We shall overcome" resonated with both the protesters and the rest of America because the message reminded us that all men are created equal.
The problem now is that the left marches mostly about issues that the rest of America doesn't agree with them about, or certainly that there is no consensus on. They still recall the glory days where a real wrong was righted and since the issues today feel as important and righteous to them, they assume the rest of us take them seriously. They figure if they are committed enough to hit the streets their fervor will infuse the rest of us and we will join them. But this isn't the civil rights movement, this is national security or border security, or illegal immigration.
As for the Iraq war protests, they have been more or less a bust, my experiences in the Mad City aside. Even the relentless drumbeat of doom in the media has failed to generate a popular groundswell a la Vietnam, which was the second victory of the marchers back in the glory days. But this isn't Vietnam, their best efforts aside, and the marches were farts in a windstorm. More and more Americans look at street marchers as a perpetually riled bunch of aging hippies, looking for their last great hurrah before they head to that collective in Vermont to meditate for world peace. Of course that is an unfair generalization, but it represents the view of many Americans.
The demonstrations recently in support of illegal immigrants and their desire for citizenship may actually backfire on them. In the anti-war case their lack of numbers made them seem ineffectual , in the immigrants case the huge turnouts may harm their case. It is easy for me and others to empathize with the nice Mexican family next door, and recognize them as good neighbors and positive members of the community. But if you confront me with tens or hundreds of thousands all demanding citizenship, you remind me that these are only the ones who came out to march. They may be doing the crap jobs, but they also have their grandparents, cousins and their own kids at home all of whom are enjoying the quality of life our government services provide. You remind me that they broke the law to do this and I am paying for this.
A decent question might be is the economic benefit gained by cheap labor offset by the increased cost of government services for the extended families of illegals. I don't know, but the more I get huge numbers of people clamoring that their "rights" are being denied, the less pro hard-working immigrant I become.
Just because we have a hole in the fence in our backyard doesn't mean we owe hearth and home to anyone able to get past the dog that isn't there and wander in the house. There are decent people all over the world who would love a shot at life here, just because there is a footpath out of the failed countries to our south doesn't give them a foot up on the rest and a free pass to Wonkaland.
"I think it's just inhumane," said Elger Aloy of Riverside, a 26-year-old premed student who was pushing his 8-month-old son in a stroller at the Los Angeles march. "Everybody deserves the right to a better life."
They have every right to a better life, right back home. They have absolutely no right to a better life here, and we can either accept that or renounce our sovereignty. I have said that I support a guest worker policy that leads to citizenship, but it must be done in conjunction with strict enforcement of border security and no services for illegals. That is both humane and right, and somehow I reached that conclusion without any sing song sloganeering.
- Uncle J