I’ve been struggling mightily to decide where my sympathies/objections reside over those protests/riots in Portland, Seattle, and to a lesser degree in other American cities.
I do know they give the state-controlled media in Moscow and Beijing plenty of fodder for a case that the U.S. style liberal democracy is coming apart. “America’s Dying”: Russian Media Is Giddy at Chaos in the USA, says a Daily Beast headline.
Is that true, or are we just expressing the citizen voices the Founding Fathers thought to be an important element of non-authoritarian governance?
I think I support any protest short of violence or closing off others’ access to stores and streets. Alas, so much American protest gives birth to some kind of violence — a notable exception being, for some reason, in Hawaii. The most violent I can remember was the burning of the UH ROTC building during the Vietnam War.
I’m trying to figure out where I fit in the latest polling statistics on Americans’ attitudes.
The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds a majority of Americans saying law enforcement officers have generally responded appropriately to the protests.
Exact figure: 55% support law enforcement response. 44% say police used excessive force. And 54% say President Trump’s response to the recent unrest made things worse. Just 12% say Trump made things better, while 33% say his response had no impact.
One thing is clear. More Americans today than five years ago call violence by police generally a very serious problem and that it unequally targets black Americans.
The AP-NORC poll finds 54% of Americans say they approve of the protests, while 32% disapprove. Another 14% say they hold neither opinion.
Seven percent of Americans say they’ve participated in a protest in the past few weeks. While black Americans were significantly more likely to say so than white Americans, the poll found about half of all those who said they protested were white.
Overall, Americans are somewhat more likely to say the protests have been peaceful than violent, 27% vs. 22%, but another 51% think there has been a mix of both. White Americans are more likely than black Americans to call protests violent, 20% to 7%, though 54% of white Americans say there has been a mix.
I was listening to an NPR interview with the woman who started the Wall of Moms between police and protesters in Portland. A good idea in my book. But she claims the police (and federal agents) just flash-banged and tear-gassed them, too. Being a mom-against-violence brought on police violence.
That bothers me and moves me off center and toward the protestors. But then that Seattle crowd started setting fire to federal buildings. That’s way beyond the pale to me.
[Wondered where that phrase came from? In the 14th Century, four obedient shires were the only part of Ireland still under the control of the English crown. The king’s perimeter was marked with wooden fence posts pounded into the Irish turf. These were called “pales,” from the Latin palus, meaning “stake.”]
Okay, English History lesson over. Who’s on my righteousness side?
Peaceful protesters are. You might say “peaceful sometimes doesn’t get results.” Yes, but I can’t express my idea of my rights by treading on those of others. I think the house a-building behind me is a violation that our city planning intended, but I can’t remedy that by burning it down!
Your thoughts are welcome. Maybe I’ll learn something.