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Not so much ‘demonstrations’ as tantrums

Allen Thorpe also sees demonstrations as a largely pointless exercise

Demonstrations have lost their point. It used to be that oppressed people, like American blacks under Jim Crow, could demonstrate and draw national attention to the injustices of the way they were treated. Then it meant something.

Today it’s just a substitute for thinking and reasoned argument. Causes are inflated to the point where fat people demonstrate because they’re not considered beautiful. Who cares? And if we do care, what can anybody do about the situation?

Demonstrating, picketing and marching is now so common that the media hardly notices anymore, so the demonstrators try to get attention through numbers (The Million [Insert name here] March), violence (anti-globalist demonstrators), or commit terrorist acts such as those of the ELF (Environmental Liberation Front) in the U.S.

The more it goes on, however, the more pointless it all seems. The Palestinians could probably win more sympathy by non-violent means than by what they’re doing now. The problem is that they want more than simply a state of their own. They want to destroy Israel, to accomplish what all the wars with Israel were unable to accomplish. By teaching their young people that martyrdom is the gate to a better life and earns a perpetual income for their families, they have made themselves appear irrational and abominable to the rest of us. It is difficult to see where this will end. How can Arafat stop this? And if he can’t, why should anyone negotiate with him or anyone else from the Palestinian side?

What’s next, everyone in Gaza and the West Bank to go on a hunger strike? How about mass suicide? Everybody will be sorry then, right?

In essence demonstrations have become tantrums, not the simple, civil refusals that Ghandi and King used. These worked because they brought attention both to the powerlessness of the demonstrators and the injustice of their treatment by those in power. Once they start using violence, the demonstrators lose that appeal and become mere lawbreakers.

Allen S. Thorpe

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