Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Playing Pepper

I always knew the Atlantic's James Fallows to be a reliable liberal, but I also thought he retained a modicum at least of, what?, common sense, perspective?  Apparently not.

Upset by the images of the police pepper-spraying the student "Occupy" protesters at UC-Davis, after they refused to obey repeated pleas, then orders to disperse, Fallows writes:
I can't see any legitimate basis for police action like what is shown here. Watch that first minute and think how we'd react if we saw it coming from some riot-control unit in China, or in Syria. The calm of the officer who walks up and in a leisurely way pepper-sprays unarmed and passive people right in the face? We'd think: this is what happens when authority is unaccountable and has lost any sense of human connection to a subject population. That's what I think here.
That's what you think Mr. Fallows?

Well, what I think is that very unlike China and Syria, which are brutal authoritarian regimes where the people have no voice and no other recourse save public protest, peaceful or not, the United States is a government of law, a representative democracy where the people enjoy constitutional protections of their rights and nearly countless avenues for seeking redress of their grievances, the most important of which is the ballot.

The "Occupy" phenomenon is first and foremost crude political theatre. The pepper-spraying of the protesters is precisely the response or kind of response it is calculated to engender, with the hope that the mere image of it will inspire broader sympathy among fellow citizens.

But aside from managing to offend a few silly, un-thinking liberals who are forever waiting to be offended anyway, the ploy won't work.  It didn't work during the Vietnam era, remember Nixon was both elected and re-elected, and it won't work now.

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