Monday, April 17, 2006

Communing with the past

This passage from Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France (surely one of the greatest works of the English language, not to mention the philosophical manual for conservatism) sums up my feelings on protestors, whether pro-immigration, anti-war, or whatever the cause célèbre happens to be:
Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field; that, of course, they are many in number, or that, after all, they are other than the little, shrivelled, meager, hopping, though loud and troublesome, insects of the hour.

Those pro-immigration protestors have managed to change my position on immigration. I used to be completely open borders, from a free market, pro-globalization perspective. But the importunate chink of those insects of the hour have swayed me. I now oppose open borders.

A brief note on protests in general: remember, protests are a sign of marginalization, a sign that a cause is failing. People don't protest when their opinion is held by the majority. They protest that their little, shrivelled, meager, hopping, though loud and troublesome, cause might be artificially inflated by the mainstream media and given the postmodern twist from rhetoric to reality.

I despise protests.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Tim Robbins said...

Egh, protesting doesn't have anything to do with how right you are, and neither does being in the majority. And allowing all opinions to be heard is a good thing and different from the postmodernist idea that all opinions have merit. Even if you are right, it helps you better understand your position if you are forced to defend it.

12:35 AM  
Blogger Grant said...

I don't deny that protests may be in favor of a right--and righteous--cause. I merely despise them as a means of expressing whatever cause they uphold. It is an aesthetic dislike, partly, and an elitist dislike, but not an irrational dislike.

The swaying, braying mass of humanity that constitutes the typical protest are not, typically, the most fertile grounds for reasoned discourse.

Protests are consumed of mob-passion and indwelt with mob-mind. Having such a large concentration of people with the same opinion is the echo chamber embodied--a physical manifestation of dogmatism. The only defending of positions that come from this mob-mind are the soundbite and the chant.

"And allowing all opinions to be heard is a good thing"

Please indicate where in my post I advocate the brutal suppression of dissenting opinions, and the repeal of the first amendment.

Not saying I don't, but this post happened to be virtually fascism free.

1:19 AM  
Blogger Grant said...

For the record I also despise Mr. Pibb. Vile mouth defecation, that.

1:20 AM  
Anonymous Tim Robbins said...

I read your posts regularly and I know you weren't opposing the first ammendment in your post. You did say that protesting gives an artificial loudness to a person's opinions (and that was a bad thing). I am saying that some good opinions are held by the minority and it is better for everyone if we hear them.
Maybe I should have said something like "And supporting all opinions right to be heard is a good thing" not "allowing". And I agree that if you tried to have a good conversation at a protest it would be hard. But the protest did start good conversations throughout the country, in the same way the women and black protests has resulted in more equality for them. I think that these protests either are or are close to the most efficient way for these immigrants to be treated equally, and if I were them I would take advantage of that. And yes, Mr. Pibb is a bastardization that should only be served to prisoners.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Grant said...

I consider myself tough on crime--pro-death penalty, etc.--but serving Mr. Pibb?

Monster.

Oh, and I'm also thinking about taking up smoking because of those appalingly self-righteous TRUTH anti-smoking protestors. "Look at me, I'm sticking it to the Man, spreading a truth that has been brutally supressed: smoking is harmful to your health!"

Loathe is too weak a word to express the twisted melange of hatred, anger and stabiness they incite in me.

*puff* *puff* Ahhhhhh... Take that, idealism.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

What means should be used? More people notice protests than read letters to the editor. More politicians will respond to a mass of people outside their office than will react to a series of respectful letters.

Admittedly, my reaction to a typical protest around here is along the lines of "Eww, you're making Manhattan look bad!" And I generally think they are ineffective at best and more likely counterproductive. Some protests clearly have been effective, though; so I guess I won't shun supporters of the immigration cause for using that method.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many protesters aren't able or don't feel they are able to get their opinions out in another manner. An illegal immigrant (don't get picky on my word choice there!) who has worked in the U.S. for twenty years but has limited education probably won't be able to write a good enough letter for publication in the L.A. Times. He or she might not be comfortable conversing with civic leaders.

Think of it this way...If I felt like a great deal of gender discrimination were taking place in the College of Engineering, I would set up appointments to discuss my concerns with Dean King and all of the assistant deans. I'd meet with my department head as well. They would all be very welcoming, and my comments would be taken seriously. There'd be no scene made, and I believe my efforts could have an effect. If a freshman girl with a 1.2 GPA and no extracurriculars who did not know the deans were to try to do the same, her comments would probably be completely disregarded if she were even able to get appointments with all of them. Only if she and several others made a scene would they get attention. It might not be all positive; but it'd be in the paper, K-State would scramble to respond to the allegations, and something would possibly change.

That's all... :)

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

What means should be used? More people notice protests than read letters to the editor. More politicians will respond to a mass of people outside their office than will react to a series of respectful letters.

Admittedly, my reaction to a typical protest around here is along the lines of "Eww, you're making Manhattan look bad!" And I generally think they are ineffective at best and more likely counterproductive. Some protests clearly have been effective, though; so I guess I won't shun supporters of the immigration cause for using that method.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many protesters aren't able or don't feel they are able to get their opinions out in another manner. An illegal immigrant (don't get picky on my word choice there!) who has worked in the U.S. for twenty years but has limited education probably won't be able to write a good enough letter for publication in the L.A. Times. He or she might not be comfortable conversing with civic leaders.

Think of it this way...If I felt like a great deal of gender discrimination were taking place in the College of Engineering, I would set up appointments to discuss my concerns with Dean King and all of the assistant deans. I'd meet with my department head as well. They would all be very welcoming, and my comments would be taken seriously. There'd be no scene made, and I believe my efforts could have an effect. If a freshman girl with a 1.2 GPA and no extracurriculars who did not know the deans were to try to do the same, her comments would probably be completely disregarded if she were even able to get appointments with all of them. Only if she and several others made a scene would they get attention. It might not be all positive; but it'd be in the paper, K-State would scramble to respond to the allegations, and something would possibly change.

That's all... :)

4:44 PM  

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