So, the Cleveland City Council is working to pass language requiring a permit for protests. America. 2015.— deray mckesson (@deray) July 23, 2015
The reason that certain debates or subject matters are taboo is that we have as a society opted against free speech and thought as too radical for the fragile institutions we cherish.
We, therefore, put acceptable and unacceptable protest into tight categories. It seems that acceptable protest is any kind that will not succeed and unacceptable, any kind that might succeed.
Thus rebellions in the cities, which the press call riots, are unacceptable protest. Picketing is so acceptable now, it doesn’t even attract the TV cameras.
But the protest is rarely put in a context of reality.
Compare, if you will, Thoreau of 1849 and what he said of America, update the language and put it into the mouth of Rap Brown of 1968, and imagine what the New York Times or Huntley-Brinkley would do with it. I quote Thoreau.
"All men recognize the right of revolution. That is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government when its tyranny and its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say now, now is not such the case. But such was the case, they think in the Revolution of ’75. If only one were to tell me that this was a bad government because it taxed certain foreign commodities brought to its ports, it is most probable that I should not make much ado about it, for I can do without them. All machines have their friction and possibly this one does enough in return to counterbalance the evil. At any rate, it is a great evil to make a stir about. But when the friction comes to have its own machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us have not such a machine any longer. In other words, when a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army and subjected to military law, I think it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize."
And I think Thoreau’s America is Rap Brown’s America. And I think Thoreau’s America is Mr. Arnoni’s America when he says, "As I once with every fiber of my body and mind wished victory to the Americans, British, and French, so do I now with every fiber of my body and mind, wish victory to the Vietnamese people. As I once prayed for the defeat of Hitler and the evil he personified, so I do pray for the defeat of Johnson and the evil he personifies. For their defeat is the victory for the very right to be human."
One has to cultivate dissent and criticism and I’m afraid that America has plowed it underground instead. You don’t cut it down merely by denying it to those with different ideas a platform to speak. But by ridiculing it, punishing it, overwhelming it with nonsense, ignoring it, and making it powerless.
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