Super Polite

Another Superbowl Sunday is upon us and more and more it becomes apparent that this event has taken on a quasi-religious status. People prepare all day, if not all weekend, long for it. They plan around it, putting milestone events in their, or their loved ones’, lives on the back burner. They defend its sanctity tooth and nail.

The AFL-CIO has said it is not getting behind planned labor protests outside the Super Bowl. Protests which are decrying Indiana’s new (always ironically named) Right To Work law. They gave a short list of fairly feeble reasons why they are not, but when it comes right down to it, I believe they do not want to violate reverence for this holiest of American holidays. At the very least, they do not want to be viewed as impolite and willing to ruin everyone’s good time.

I hear that more as the Occupy Movement and its supporters continue to fight the only way they have left. In a discussion about the movement a friend decried Occupy’s protest outside the White House’s prayer breakfast. Leaving aside that I have a problem with giving a special day to recognize people who already enjoy their Judeo-Christian privilege, the thrust of this person’s argument seemed to be that it was crude to do so.

Since when is protest polite? Should it be peaceful? Certainly it should. Asking it to be polite, however, is at best silly and at worst selfish and lazy cowardice. The powerful control coverage of the protests and issues. The only way to get attention is to force it. Be willing to take legitimate lumps (arrests not beatings) and make sacrifices, but do not ever be polite.

This might be a little easier to swallow if so many people did not complain about the people in power. As I said, I think it is lazy cowardice.  We should just accept things as they are “because they are never going to change.” Folks have carved out a comfortable little niche and they would rather grab on to it for however short a time they have with it instead of demanding things be more fair for everyone.

Which brings me to another variation on the laughable ” it’s impolite” stance. I see plenty of commenting in social networks and hear plenty of dialogue in personal conversations that somehow, asking for things to be more fair and equal within our society is an insult to those who have it worse around the world. This specious at best argument is itself an insult both to the protesters and to the people suffering horribly abroad.

“They have it worse” is the kind of thing a parent says to a child when they do not want to give them a real answer. Someone else being denied food because of their leaders (enabled, I might add, by the same people creating the unfair circumstances here) is not a reason to deny adequate health care or housing to people here. It is also not a reason to not call to task those who broke or manipulated the laws and did a fair job of destroying our economy.

One last thing. This person compared the protest of the Prayer Breakfast to the WBC protesters outside of funerals. Those people are protesting outside of private events involving a time of grief for someone who has just suffered a great loss. The Prayer Breakfast is a public event held by those in public office. The two are not even in the same plane of existence, much less the same ballpark. It is a lazy appeal to emotion and ad hominem attack on the Occupiers. The more I watch, the more I listen to people’s reactions to OWS, a movement that has flaws that I myself have pointed out, the more I am certain OWS is needed. If you are too frightened and lazy to do your job as an active citizen whose voice has been stolen, the least you could do is not be a fool and a toady and attack those who are not.


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