Thursday, November 27, 2014

Why Stopping The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (#stoptheparade) Ultimately Failed.

      Today is Thanksgiving. A yearly excuse to over eat and loaf around watching athletic people bump into each other in search of a football. It's also the day that Macy's holds it's annual celebration of balloons too big to be tamed and lip syncing, The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Normally, this kind of thing goes off without a hitch. Well, with the exception of a few balloons have wandering off and the occasional world war its been pretty smooth sailing. That is...until today.

Ferguson protesters plan on disrupting and stopping the parade.

      It was doomed to fail of course and in all likelihood negated their message, but, as history has proven, you can't tell a hipster anything...because they're stupid and easily led. Tragically stupid. However, in the spirit of the holidays and goodwill toward horrifically misguided people. I'll try and tell you why the #stoptheparade movement failed and was ultimately flawed.

One Thing, Has Nothing To Do 
With The Other


      What happened in Ferguson is a confusing and awful thing. It has cast a dimly lit part of our society's racial insecurities and hatred in a brightly harsh light. It's held a mirror up to racial division and discrimination regarding those we've permitted to police us and we the people being policed. It's a divide which should not exist anywhere, especially among law enforcement. Yet, Michael Brown's death tells us all that we have a very long way to go, on both sides of the equation.

      Protesting what happened to Michael Brown is important for numerous reasons; perceived injustices should be voiced and should be heard and acknowledged...always. Whether it the truth or not doesn't matter, it's transparency and decency that matters. People should be treated the same, respectfully the same and shown dignity regardless of what they look like. 

If something is seen as wrong it should be shouted, loud and clear and something done about it and corrected. If it's right, the same thing. 

      Stopping a parade does nothing for any of that. It's simply seen as spoiled, misguided pseudo protesters doing something annoying to "protest" something they hardly understand themselves or hardly relate to. It's seen as that, because the parade and the killing are completely unrelated.

      What is more likely to happen? People that were intended to be engaged with the protest topic will instead be turned against it. Well, not against IT, but, against the protesters. People aren't going to care what you're protesting, they'll just not like YOU. Regardless...message lost.

Protesting an appropriate venue is almost important as what you're protesting, as it can also carry a message. Why not protest a "Policeman's Ball"? 

What Will Actually Happen?


      Arrests! Lots of arrests! Arrests before anyone ever gets close to stopping anything. Sure, you might, in the emptiest of thinking believe that those arrests are meaningful, but, lets face it, one arrested protester today, is one less protester tomorrow. 

The protested is more than likely to be relegated to some out of the way, obscured corner of the parade route to be ignored by just about everyone...everywhere. 

      Ah, but, what if by some miracle a disruption does happen? Well, then, every channel showing the parade does the same thing. They cut to commercial and none of it is seen or mentioned anyway. In fact, you end up helping the corporate machine (which will soon be lumped in with this whole mess, certainly) you're also protesting, in addition the initial protest (as always happens with these things, corporations, amiright?). 

      Then, every frustrated armchair supporter will take to the Twitter airwaves and yammer about "the media" stonewalling "the real message" and not showing what actually happened, which was actually nothing. How do you change all that? Change how you convey the message. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade isn't the place for it. Stage it on Darren Wilson's street.

You're Protests Are Pointless!


      I'm all for protesting. Social inequality is all around and for the foreseeable future, always will be. Fighting to change those things that hold us back is a great and noble cause. If done in the right way, it's always the right thing to do. 

However, trying to stop a parade that's been chugging along since 1924 is pointless...as pointless as the protest itself. Yes, I said exactly that. The protests are pointless and I'll tell you why. 

      In the 60's there were protests for voting and equal rights for black citizens. Numerous arrests, marches and demonstrations were executed to that end. There was an end game in the protesting: that was "equal rights". What is the Ferguson endgame? What is the focus? Is it the death penalty? Is it equal treatment by the police? To end racism?

      The frustrating difference between the protest movements of yesteryear and the kind pulled off today is the incredible lack of focus on display now. There isn't a clear reason given. Had the parade stopped and a reason was asked, there probably wouldn't be a concise answer. Actually, it would be something like "To protest the Michael Brown murder" or something as ambiguous. 

      Before attempting any large scale disruptions, maybe whittling what you're protesting down to something with an endgame would help. Equal treatment by all law enforcement with clearly spelled out consequences if found otherwise, might be a start. Hell, something more clearly delineated than that would be even better. Dammit, something! Instead of just saying, "We're protesting because of something awful that happened that involved racial implications!", try something meaningful.

Denouement


      Overall, protesting is a good thing, when it has a point and clearly recognized destination. If it's for retribution regarding the killing of Michael Brown that's fair, but, short sighted. Killings similar to his happen and are happening all the time. So? What's the point? Retribution for all of them? 

      Instead, finding appropriate venues to tie into a point driven, focused protest movement, whose goal is the changing of what leads to all of those horrible deaths, is a lot better. Protesting because it's trendy and sounds righteous is blindly serving nothing. It demonstrates empty rhetoric in physical form. Toss some meaning behind your protest, if everyone is so dedicated. Make it all fit. Paint a mural to immortalize the cause and struggle, the loss of life for such ignorant reasons. Ensure that deaths like these won't go unrecognized for what they are and will not be tolerated any more. Focus on the problem and not on a parade...

That has nothing to do with anything you're fucking talking about.