“What are you rebelling against ?”, “Whadda you got?”, a line from the 1953 Marlon Brando film the Wild Ones seems to sum up the sentiments of many as they wrestle and grapple with the world as it is in 2017. And whatever you’re rebelling against, chances are there’s a protest near you. But unfortunately, the protests of today are not your mom’s and pop’s protests of the sixties and seventies – the good old days of protest and rage. And what institution has exemplified protests and how they are carried out down through the years? That would be Protest U. – The University of California at Berkeley.
U.C. Berkeley again found itself in the middle of controversy when on February 1st, a campus appearance by Milos Yiannopoulos was violently
protested. Who is Milos Yiannopoulos? Well, until the protests, I had never heard of the guy. Upon further research, I discovered that Yiannopoulos (who also goes
by the names Milo Andreas Wagner and Milo Hanrahan) works for the controversial Breitbart News as a technology editor. He also has a best seller out called
appropriately titled Dangerous. He’s been accused of hate speech and been banned from Twitter. CNN carried almost the entire debacle with running commentary. There were fires, there was the breaking of glass – one “student” tried to break the glass of an Amazon store with laughable results, a sickening party atmosphere, and $100,000 worth of damage. Yiannopolous didn’t fare much better in his interview with Tucker Carlson the night after the protests. Yiannopolous wants us all to know that he is gay and flamboyant. He is not a racist because he sleeps with men of all races. He seemed to care very little that people not affiliated with the protest were injured. I tried to take in as much as I could, but as they say, you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. That, and Yiannopolous penchant for going out of his way to offend and self aggrandize. And the further I dug into this story, the less I liked. In the era of fake news, did Yiannopolous stage the whole thing for publicity? Were people paid to protest and were outside agitators brought in? I decided I didn’t want to go any further down that rabbit hole. As Hunter S. Thompson once said, “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro”.
If Milos is not your thing, how about the Women’s March on Washington on January 21st. This movement also plans to sponsor A Day
Without A Woman on March 8th. Fueled by President Trump’s past antics such as his “locker room talk” and “nasty woman” remark directed at Hillary
Clinton we had those cute little vagina hats to look forward to, although guys wearing those in solidarity with the women looked a little creepy. Also celebrity spokeswomen
Madonna and actress Ashley Judd were on hand to lash out against the president. Madonna threatened to blow up the White House (who said this was a nonviolent movement) and
Ashley Judd delivered a poetry/monologue/
performance art piece? called Nasty Woman. The piece was written by 19 year old Tennessean Nina Donovan. It was
terrible. It was delivered in an awkward cadence. I really thought Judd was trying to channel a slave from the 1800’s. Donovan should have been on hand to
read her own poem. Ashley Judd, you’re not a nasty woman just a bad actress. And Madonna, don’t worry about the Secret Service. You haven’t been
relevant since the 80’s.
Next, we move to the Mexico City protests of February 13th. There Mexicans marched against Trump – pick your reason. One
homemade sign read BAD HOMBRE FOR THE WHOLE WORLD. These protests are understandable. They make more sense than most of the others. There are definitely some
legitimate grievances. But I would suggest to the great Mexican people who have a vibrant culture, abundant natural resources, and tremendous potential –
shouldn’t you be protesting against your own government who for decade after decade has done little to relieve poverty and change the status quo where the rich get richer and
the poor get poorer. The current leader, President Enrique Pena has only a 12% approval rating.
Now we can go on to protests at the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline and range wars in Oregon and Nevada. These protests can’t be
easily dismissed due to the nature of the participants, the issues involved, and a legitimate grass roots movement. The Standing Rock Indian Reservation certainly has a
vested interest in the project as it would cross underneath sacred land. I get it and I almost have a knee jerk reaction in favor of Native American causes. But there
are numerous pipelines already in place from other long ago projects. Shouldn’t a stand have been taken a long time ago? And isn't it ironic that the
protesters themselves pose more of a clear and present danger to sacred sites and water supply due to raw sewage from the encampment made worse by flash flooding.
Oregon and Nevada basically revolves around one family and their refusal to pay grazing fees to The Bureau of Land Management. They have convinced a lot of people that this
is a battle worth fighting for.
Perhaps I should start a publication called The Protest Times – all protests all the time. But I really doubt any of the protests and/or “Movements” I’ve mentioned have any legs. They are not well organized or have a coherent theme that will attract adherents. So I will cover all of this with a jaundiced eye. These are not the grand protest movements of the civil rights and Vietnam era. In his song, Rehearsals For Retirement,
Phil Ochs (who had participated in his fair share of protests) sums of the current era best, “the days grow longer for smaller prizes”.