Organized v. Disorganized

Organized Protests:

This marks a strange moment in American life. Ordinary citizens have come together to protest a government initiative. The government has apparently decided to declare the dissent inauthentic, and to suppress it using a combination of rhetoric and force.

It is not the first moment when protests have been declared to be the work of organized agitators, and bands of men deployed to drive them off. That was a regular feature of the early union movement, with union organizers (branded Communists, only sometimes with justification) being targeted by hired strikebreakers.

In those days, though, unions were poor and poorly represented. Though honest and hard-working, they were easy to marginalize because their experiences were not like those of the broadest part of the population. It was not difficult to convince Americans in the middle that they were dangerous, and in need of being brought to order.

The protesting groups today are composed of middle-class Americans, the most normal and ordinary sorts of people. The government has turned against these groups sharply, apparently under the belief that it can marginalize them according to the old formula.

That cannot work, however, because these people are quite mainstream. Iowahawk makes the point in satirical fashion, but quite well. Look at the examples of an organized protest -- the formatted signs, easy to read on television, or the uniforms of t-shirts, so that TV viewers will know there are large groups of people in agreement with the protest.

The opposite images -- just folks showing up in whatever they were wearing that day, amateur lettering on signs, etc -- are also available. Keep that in mind when you look at stories about these protests, because it is an excellent point.

For example, look here, at protestors that were simply locked out of the town hall meeting. (Union members were admitted through a side door, for the benefit of TV cameras inside.)

Take a look at these dues-paying members of AARP:

The White House is actively organizing a movement designed to show support for its programs, having just stated that 'organized' opposition was illegitimate. The Speaker of the House is dreaming up swastikas; scrambling to cover for her, the Huffington Post did manage to uncover a single swastika on one of those hand-lettered signs. It had a circle and a strikeout through it: 'No swastikas,' in other words.

Peggy Noonan, very much a Beltway insider, writes that the Congress is simply shocked. They knew there was hostility, of course -- that's why there was such a push to get this done before August. Nobody knew just how hot it would be. It's as hot as it has ever been in my lifetime.

I remember attending a HillaryCare "town hall" back in the early part of the Clinton administration, where an administration spokesperson came down to tell us about how great it would be. There were quite a few stiff questions about the plan then, too. Finally, in frustration, she said: 'What you really need to understand is that you'll get whatever health care you need, and it won't cost you anything.'

The audience burst out in uproarious laughter, with hoots and hollering thrown in for good measure.

Nobody seems to be laughing this time.

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