Went to the Women’s March on Austin last Saturday. Energetic turnout and sunny skies but something really bothered me, and it involves the sign this kid is holding: “Want Small Government and Low Taxes? Move to Somalia.”
“Because…” the Sign says with a wink, “You know how Somalia is a terrible place where no one would want to live. The thought of going there should scare people.”
Why do people still think that the “Move to Somalia” sign is ok at an event that is supposed to be *against* harmful stereotypes and *for our mutual rights* to life, liberty, and happiness? Would the sign holder feel as justified if his sign said, “If you want low rent and cheap drugs, move to the Ghetto”?
Kid, are you really protesting against President Trump’s stereotyping of women, Muslims, Hispanics, Latinos, etc. with a cliched joke about how miserable Africa is? (By the way, check sites like Everyday Africa to see the kid’s dreaded Somalia)
This ties into the In Group (rather than Out Group) controlling the narrative of Opposition and Dissent, i.e. who determines the language and terms of “who deserves what rights in what form”. It is part of the North Dakota Pipeline Protest phenomenon too — where are the thousands of Standing Rock “allies” on the subject of Native American land rights in general, that convoluted system that denies people any form of real property ownership because of a decades-old belief that they were not “competent” enough to handle their own affairs?
It is a part of the Protest culture that I am uncomfortable with. It is the same discomfort I have with the “safety pin” movement following Nov. 8th and the tense relationship between movements like Black Lives Matter and “allies”.
Is it significant that the most popular Austin political gathering since Nov. 8 was formulated as a “Women’s March” rather than a “Human Rights March” or a “Black Lives Matter March”? Is it significant that while there were around 50k people at the Women’s March, there was far less of a turnout at the Nov. 19, 2016 unveiling of the Texas African American History Monument?
50 thousand people showed up at the Texas capitol this past Saturday. I was there. It was a popular event — but so was the Hillary Clinton campaign. The “Women’s Marches” across the country may even have had mostly the same demographics and participants as the Hillary Campaign.
Does this “Women’s March” movement have the same weaknesses and handicaps? Is it going to achieve the same outcome?
As was the question with Hillary Clinton, whose interests do movements like the Women’s March represent? What kind of change do they really want, relative to their own position (what would they have to give up or spend, to benefit someone vulnerable and in need)?
I don’t know the answers to those questions. But I think there is still a disconnect between the IN Group and OUT Group, and that affects the crucial transition from Protest to Movement to Action.