Wednesday, November 18, 2009

civil disobedience is passé

Our government has already celebrated this reality, and if they haven’t, they should. This may be one issue to unite both sides of the aisle, a definite bipartisan bit of relief. There may have been some nervous moments over the past year, but protests degraded quickly to media outdoor theatre. Brows wiped.

Civil disobedience and the art of conducting it, organizing the movement and message is dead too. A local example: this weekend, a minister organized a march to the local entertainment district up the street to voice ire at the seemingly unfair practice of turning away patrons who choose to dress in rap costumes. Granted, the issue is lame and, back East, this is solved with a few adept ACLU lawyers, and painful settlements…but here in the MidWest, we’re polite about these things.

I think the minister should protest the violence in his church’s catchment area. But they chose to march and few did. I stopped by to watch. The march was embarrassingly disjointed and without message. The three local news stations were there and the interviews ensued. The group stayed across the street from the district area. Perhaps they did not have a permit. In any event, it made me wonder about the dying expertise of organizing civil disobedience.

Martin Luther King and his followers, in the early days, wrote the modern book so to speak. I wonder if anyone from that era is carrying on the traditions, the organizational techniques of competent protest? Is this a dying art form, or merely dormant?

Since the attacks on 9/11, our appetite and patience with protest seems diminished. Understandable. Fear to speak out, write, assemble. Higher stakes. More sophisticated government oversight.

Fundamentally, there is no large issue out there with a moral imperative. Some may point to economic issues, the Tea Party libertarian groups, but the economy is not a passion-driving issue. It’s more like a business school case study debate. If it is a big issue, why is it so…inconsequential to the citizenry?

Having observed two gatherings of Ron Paulers locally, I came away from both astounded at the lack of organization and intellectual depth. The local groups need some competent business school graduates to articulate the issues intelligently.

Because of ignorance, the government need not be worried about civil disobedience in the foreseeable future. For while the issues could provide fuel, few have the ability to stoke the furnace competently. The skill is gone.

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