- There have been hundreds of peaceful protests across America over the past week. But some prominent conservative media personalities can’t help but being offended.
- Ben Shapiro thinks it’s “terrible” that some cops have taken a knee as a symbolic gesture of solidarity with protesters because Colin Kaepernick used kneeling as a silent protest against racism and police brutality.
- Tomi Lahren tweeted “The ‘protesters’ (aka rioters) proclaim they won’t stop until they get ‘justice for George Floyd'” – demonstrating that she makes no distinction between the peaceful and the violent.
- Perhaps it just doesn’t matter to some critics how the protests are conducted, they’re offended anyway.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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Peaceful protests have taken place all over the country over the past week.
But even when juxtaposed against demonstrations marred by violence, there’s a strong contingent of mostly right-wing critics that insist the peaceful protesters are still doing it wrong.
That’s probably because it’s not actually the method of protest to which they object, it’s the ideas behind those protests. No method of peaceful protest is sufficiently respectful enough of their feelings.
Kneeling is problematic to the right
Richmond, Virginia police officers fired tear gas at a group of peaceful protesters with their hands up, most of them kneeling. (Richmond Police Chief William Smith apologised for the incident, which he called “unwarranted” and “outside dept protocols and directions given,” and said the officers would be disciplined.)
Charleston, South Carolina police officers arrested a young black man who had been among a group of peaceful protesters, also on their knees, pleading with them for unity. He wasn’t threatening them, antagonizing them, or even insulting them. The cops pulled him from the group and arrested him anyway.
When police make humble public gestures that show sympathy for the protesters and the cause they’re fighting for, some popular conservative media personalities look at the way they’re showing solidarity – and declare it problematic.
New York’s Police Chief Terence Monahan, along with protest leaders who insisted on keeping their movement peaceful, defused what could have been a very bad situation near Washington Square Park on Monday.
After expressing his disgust with the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, New York’s top cop took a knee in solidarity with the protesters.
Even if one is not sympathetic to the protesters, you’d have to be pretty hard-hearted to not see that as – at a minimum – a worthy and important gesture by a leader in law enforcement and leaders of a peaceful protest.
It was a demonstration of unity during an act of civil disobedience (the protesters were blocking the street without a permit). It didn’t produce desperately-needed police and criminal justice reform.
But some right-wing media personalities can’t help from getting triggered.
On the subject of peaceful protest optics, Shapiro tweeted:
“It is excellent that police officers are expressing solidarity with those protesting police brutality. It is terrible that both protesters and officers have adopted the Kaepernick kneeling symbology, which indicts America writ large as a racist nation.”
For the Intellectual Dark Web’s resident self-admitted right-winger, a peaceful gesture of silent protest is invalid because it’s associated with Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting racism and police brutality. And because Shapiro disagrees with Kaepernick’s opinion on systemic racism on America, he declares the peaceful symbolic gesture “terrible.”
Not every protest has been peaceful, which is an affront to peaceful protesters because it drowns out their message.
But Lahren sees no difference between the two.
Lahren tweeted: “The ‘protesters’ (aka rioters) proclaim they won’t stop until they get ‘justice for George Floyd,’ What does that look like? When will you be satisfied? When the whole country burns to the ground? This isn’t advancing justice for anyone this is filth. Enough!”
No peaceful protest will ever be acceptable to Kaepernick obsessives
When it was Kaepernick, the triggered right rarely missed an opportunity to decry his peaceful protest as an affront to police, the military, and freedom itself.
Now that it’s millions of anonymous faces protesting, it’s clear that no act of civil disobedience is politically correct enough for conservative snowflakes.
All these protests are demanding the country confront racism and police brutality, and dismantling systems that support them. Many critics of the protests have denounced the killing of George Floyd, but that’s the easiest gesture imaginable and it doesn’t acknowledge the need for any systemic change.
Certain critics of the ongoing demonstrations might just be using their objections to any forms of protest as a smokescreen for the fact that they’re offended by the underlying message.
- Read more:
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- Coronavirus exposed the failures of America’s employer-based health insurance system
- Ahmaud Arbery’s murder shows how hard it is to prosecute cops, or even ex-cops
- The ADL’s extremism statistics make it seem like ultraright-wing violence in the US is more common than it actually is