Ah, the protest. The people's way of expressing their dissatisfaction with their government and its policies. It's been used by disgruntled citizens for thousands of years, sometimes with disastrous results (see the Boston Tea Party
and the Tiananmen Square Massacre
). Many times, however, it can result in positive change for a nation in turmoil (see the March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom
In past years, American conservatives have pish-poshed the idea of protesting, claiming that such activities were the work of lazy bums who didn't have to take precious time off work to do stupid things like protest war in Iraq
or show support for GLBT couples wanting to get married
. However, since the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009, they have suddenly found plenty of reasons to get out and march.
At first they seemed to come out of the gate strong. They organized under the Tea Party banner and held rallies across the nation speaking out against... well, taxes, even though the Obama administration had not implemented any taxation policies yet. They also seemed rather concerned with the location of the President's birth certificate.
Eventually, however, the protests fizzled out and conservatives had nowhere to go to vent their opinions except for FOX News, talk radio, The New York Post, The Washington Times, most medium-sized and small-town newspapers, Yahoo! comments, Free Republic, Red State, American Thinker, National Review Online, Breitbart, and more than a couple of Facebook groups.
That didn't stop the protesting spirit of some hardy souls, however, and in the past few weeks we have seen some outstanding protesting done by the proud, the few, the extreme right wing.
The first was "Operation American Spring". It was organized by Harry Riley, a retired Army colonel from Florida, with the goal of repeating the success of the Arab Spring movements of 2012. In interview after interview, Riley and his subordinates proclaimed that millions would pour into Washington DC to take it over and demand the removal of President Obama, VP Biden, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Eric Holder, and others for vaguely stated threats that they posed to the US. One spokesperson claimed "1.8 million militia members
" were ready to march. Another estimated the turnout would be as high as 30 million
When the fateful day came, much to everyone's surprise who showed up to protest, only around a hundred showed up for the protest. Organizers claimed that the rains had bogged down those who had allegedly camped out outside of the city. Some blamed the threat of drone missiles
for keeping the turnout low. Others insisted that the movement was just starting and that it would grow. As of June 4, there are still apparently a few protesters continuing to mill about, but it seems that their main thrust is to stage a picnic on June 14
. No arrests, no storming of the White House, no takeover of the government. It appears that Operation American Spring has come to an undignified halt.
Maybe what they needed were more people carrying giant semi-automatic rifles. Unfortunately for them, it appears that those guys were busy staging another protest of their own. Over the past couple of weekends, a group of Texans have decided that merely having the ability to conceal a weapon when they walk into restaurants, bars, schools, churches and amusement parks was not enough to prove their manhood. The group Open Carry Texas has been protesting this grave injustice by bringing their Bushmasters, AR-15s and whatever else might look scary to places where people gather to eat and shop.
A couple of weeks ago, one such protest did not work out well for them. Protesting the "no open carry" policies of Starbuck's, Applebee's, Chipotle, Jack in the Box, and Sonic, the open carriers arrived at these restaurants in San Antonio, in order to demonstrate that the customers there were free. Because nothing says "freedom" like having a bacon cheeseburger while someone stands nearby fondling his military-grade weapon.
To their surprise, some people did not take kindly
to this sort of "reassurance", and dared to actually come up to them and say it to their faces (in Texas, no less!)
This past weekend, they tried it again, this time at The Home Depot. It appeared to create more negative attention to the group and the state, including from an unexpected source. On Monday, a representative for the National Rifle Association
criticized the Open Carry group, saying:
“Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners...That's not the Texas way. And that's certainly not the NRA way.”
For a moment, it seemed that some common sense had snuck into the organization that has fought tooth and nail for the rights of any idiot to carry high powered artillery anywhere he damn well pleases. It was a truly shocking statement.
The warmth that it produced was short-lived. The next day, the NRA retracted the statement
, blaming it on an overzealous staffer who had been let go. Apparently, the sight of Open Carry Members burning their NRA cards and threatening to withhold funding jolted them back to what was really important:
freedom children safety
money. Thus even the most powerful lobbying group in America can be forced to cow to the lunatic fringe.
There is a right way to protest, and there is a right-wing way to protest.