2017 is the year protests surpassed brunch in popularity. In the latest episode of Mostly Weekly we shine a light of skepticism on these proliferating demonstrations.
I think Donald Trump is basically a fascist P. T. Barnum. So I’m generally in agreement with the protests I read about; my issue isn’t with their contents or goals. Rather, I’m skeptical that they actually accomplish anything, unless people decide to pick up litter before they head home.
That’s not to say protests are bad. By my lights, protests are basically church for people who live in Blue States. They provide folks with a deep feeling of shared values, community, and catharsis. If there’s a march involved, everyone gets some solid cardio in. By all means, go protest! The pitfall is that, reveling in the righteous afterglow of a march, people will think they’ve participated in an epic battle without taking actionable steps to change the world.
Conversely, it’s great that the ACLU raked in so many donations in the wake of Trump’s travel ban. They received $24 million–almost twice what they anticipated for the entire year–in the span of two weeks. My hat is off to everyone who chipped in. (And, due credit, I assume there’s significant overlap between protesters and ACLU donors.) That’s a quantifiable step people can take to oppose whatever hellish executive orders the White House squeezes out.
Which is my main point: between Facebook and Twitter, we live in a time that glorifies public displays of emotion, and it’s easy to pack up after we’ve achieved catharsis.
Andrew Heaton is a writer and standup comedian in New York City. If this post made you laugh or think, kindly "like" it on Facebook.