Activists, be disruptive
The waiting is over. Millions take to the streets on January 21st to protest the swearing-in of President Trump, whom many consider the living manifestation of America's demons. We have to do something, anything to get him out.
Powerful, compelling speeches warn against normalization. This is different, they say, so hold up your signs and chant: "Not my President!"
And they do. The words echo from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles to New York City, through Twitter and Reddit, onto TV screens.
On January 22nd, nothing changed. It was normalized. Trump's administration has seen mostly mild resistance in the form of respectful op-eds and planned marches. And that's the problem.
Yesterday, DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) activists forced Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen out of a Mexican restaurant (oh, the irony) amidst the child separation policy she oversees. She and her dinner date walked out, shamed and beaten by the activists. To be clear, they didn't physically confront or threaten her at all. They just disturbed her dinner with their voices.
Today, Nielsen drafted an order to end the separation policy. While far from DSA's immigration demands, this order is an enormous victory.
In another protest, DSA activists in Phoenix cooperated with Occupy ICE, a group committed to the abolition of ICE through civil disobedience. They blocked exits from an ICE facility, making it impossible for employee vehicles to leave. The facility eventually shut down until further notice.
The effectiveness of civil disobedience compared to well-behaved protest cannot be overstated. Civil disobedience and bad manners have always been the drivers of real change. In the 1960s, civil rights activists didn't obtain protest permits from the local police. They didn't stay comfortable in black neighborhoods where they enjoyed massive support. They sat in at white-only lunch counters, organized city-wide bus boycotts, rode in the front of the bus, stopped traffic, and marched when it was most inconvenient. The most common moderate liberal criticism was that their nonviolent disobedience was disrespectful and divisive.
If you ever hear this criticism, embrace it. Make the unjust feel uncomfortable in your protest. Invoke the Nazi comparison and slavery references. That's how justice prevails.
P.S. Listen to this episode of Citations Needed for more context on the media's civility fetish: