[sixties-l] He Was Born to Protest, but He Will Sit This One Out

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Thu Aug 17 2000 - 19:25:47 CUT

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    He Was Born to Protest, but He Will Sit This One Out


    If the police used profiles to predict who is most likely to protest the
    Democratic National Convention (and who knows, maybe they do), I would
    probably be a perfect fit.
    Besides being youngish, bearded, left-of-center, an academic, single and
    socially connected to many who are demonstrating at the event, I have a
    family history of political activism. My grandparents were blacklisted in
    New York during the McCarthy era for their involvement in the labor
    movement, and my father and mother were two of the founders of Students for
    a Democratic Society. In fact, because of my folks' involvement in SDS, I
    am myself literally a footnote in the history of the notorious Chicago
    convention of '68: At least two memoirs of that event relate the story of
    my mother wheeling me in a baby carriage through the chaos of Grant Park,
    daring the cops to "tear-gas my baby!" (Thanks, Mom.)
    While I am now 32 years old and a bit too large for a baby carriage, this
    is not the main reason I have not been at the demonstrations at the Staples
    Center. Am I too busy? Well, yes and no. I recently moved to the L.A. area
    to begin my new job as a professor of sociology at Cal State Long Beach, so
    I do have quite a bit to do to prepare for the coming semester. Still, like
    some other professors who have been seen among the protesters, I could
    probably justify going in the name of research or in the interest of
    gathering material for teaching my courses. Am I afraid? I'd be a liar if
    I said I wasn't intimidated by the LAPD in full riot gear, or by the
    "anarchists" in bandannas who seem to be spoiling for a fight for
    fighting's sake. But I've been arrested before, been punched in the head
    more than once and have survived mosh pits and other dense crowds of sweaty
    people. Am I apathetic? By the standards of my activist family, a little,
    but not by the standards of most Americans, since I'm actually watching the
    convention on TV.
    On the other hand, protests and demonstrations are acts of dissent,
    statements of one's disaffection with mainstream politics. And while they
    often entail profound unity among protesters, they sometimes, for that
    reason, can be interpreted as expressions of disunity with, and anger at,
    those who are not protesting. Call me complacent, but at this moment in the
    history of the country and my life, I do not feel a burning need to loudly
    proclaim my dissatisfaction with the government, the political process,
    corporations or even the Democrats. Strangely, given my background, I don't
    feel much affinity with the D2KLA protesters, even though I share their
    passion for democracy, human rights, protecting the environment and
    equality. Maybe it's the puppets.
    Perhaps it's the Democrats themselves who are to blame for my unwillingness
    to protest their convention. The creation of good jobs, support for young
    working families and the fostering of national unity are precisely the
    achievements the Dems are touting this week. President Clinton said on
    Monday night that he had been "waiting over 30 years" to see the hopes and
    dreams of the 1960s come true. It was the same hopes and dreams that
    propelled my mother however ill-advisedly to offer me as target practice to
    the Chicago police in '68.
    The realization of those dreams (even if only partial) is in my case a more
    effective deterrent to protest than are pepper spray, rubber bullets and
    batons. I guess you could say, then, that I've been waiting over 30 years
    too almost my entire life for the opportunity not to protest at the
    Democratic convention.
                                                                         - - -
    Marc Flacks Lives in Long Beach

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