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Adina1968's avatar

What happened to the days when people would protest?

Asked by Adina1968 (2747points) April 10th, 2008

Why are people so apethetic now? In the 60’s people used to protest. In many countries today they protest. Why is it that people in the US seem to just accept things the way they are now days? It seems that no one cares about the state that are country is in and where it is headed? Opinions…

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19 Answers

gooch's avatar

They still do…abortion clinics for one

DeezerQueue's avatar

Back when protesting was practically a rite of passage into adulthood. Yes, I remember. I don’t know why, but it seems that we somehow had more of a collective conscience, now it’s every man, woman and child for themselves. Maybe people think that it’s all the government’s job now to resolve issues or that they can’t make a difference.

All of the protests in which I was involved were inspiring, we bonded with each other, no one had a personal agenda or was searching for their 15 minutes of fame. We just did it because we believed we were doing something, anything.

Then again, I also streaked, which wasn’t much of a statement as it was the thing to do.

soundedfury's avatar

Protesting is no longer the only avenue for change.

peedub's avatar

It’s popular in other parts of the world like central/southern Europe. I think consumerism and laziness have much to do with this.

mirza's avatar

Becuase the current generation (aka Gen Y aka my generation) is too conformed. They have all been raised up by television and school telling them that it is wrong to do such things and that rebellion leads to no where. A while ago my professor asked this question in class and most people people thought that it was because they thought that they are changing the world through other ways. They’ll never admit that they are living the “ticky-tacky“lifestyle or that making lots of money isnt exactly changing the world

My own personal belief as to why people do not protest is because they lack the courage to do so. Todays version of rebellion has been capitalized and this involves going to Hot Topic or Spensers and wearing a “F**k Government” t-shirt instead of actually going out there and trying to change things. Heres the sad reality: people would rather record a video of a guy being tasered in a room full of college students instead of getting up and trying to stop it from the police from tasering the guy. Later at night, the people who saw the actual event would probably go on YouTube and post anti-Polce comment. T

mcbealer's avatar

I think people these days are just too caught up in their own drama, comfortable in their internet/headphone cocoons, and/or absorbed with other people’s business via reality tv.

cwilbur's avatar

People have learned that protesting does not have the effect they want it to have. It’s far more effective to work for change from within the system. Protesting is very showy but doesn’t accomplish much.

Maverick's avatar

I believe the current apathy in America has been carefully crafted by both Republican and Democratic administrations, after all, it is the only method of true change – short of full rebellion – against the establishment that the people have, so it is a legitimate threat to any government.

However, I think its pretty obvious that the current Bush Administration has cultivated this environment of apathy to near perfection. How else could one explain that Bill Clinton was almost impeached for telling one lie, about his personal life (which had no bearing what-so-ever on his ability to perform his job), while the Bush Administration lied over 935 times (Bush himself over 260 documented times) about things which have directly lead to over 4000 american deaths, not to mention over 80,000 innocent Iraqi deaths, destroyed the USAs image around the world, and seriously crippled the economy… and yet impeachment has barely been mentioned.

How did they do it? I think there were many key factors, but here’s a few:

Control the media: Perhaps not directly, but by accepting huge political contributions which ensured that the media’s interests would be aligned with the government’s interests. This ensured that when the Administration lied, the media reported the lie as truth and didn’t question it or look for informed sources to verify the information (arguably the ONLY responsibility the media has).

Make the public feel helpless: After 9/11 the general public was already feeling pretty vulnerable anyway, but just to make sure that people got the message the Bush Administration completely ignored the will of the people. When the world’s largest anti-war demonstration took place on February 15, 2003, Condoleezza Rice was reported as saying that the protests would “not affect [the US administration’s] determination to confront Saddam Hussein”.

Lie, constantly: As mentioned above, their lies have now been documented and regularly increased in frequency at times when public opinion was important, which indicates that it was intentional and orchestrated as opposed to simple incompetence. The current spin of the Administration is to try to say that there was “Faulty Intelligence”, like as if they aren’t also responsible for that. Anyone paying even the slightest attention knows that also to be a lie. Case in point, when Joe Wilson went public with the information he had already provided to the President that he had confirmed that Saddam Hussein had never tried to acquire Yellow Cake Uranium from Niger, the President went on TV that very night to re-assert that he had… something he obviously knew was a lie.

Combining all these forces is very important as when combined they are more compelling than the individual components.

Maverick's avatar

@cwilbur, I agree that under the current Administration, protesting does not seem to have much effect. And that is precisely what they want you to believe. However, for governments that actually represent the people they govern and care about public opinion, protesting is a key part of working within “the system” to create change. For example, as a result of the huge anti-war protest of February 15, 2003 Canada did not send troops to Iraq.

soundedfury's avatar

I think all of this a load of horse crap. The question presupposes that protesting is the most valid or logical way to force change. People have many, many more options and are no longer as disenfranchised as they once were. The rate of communication and wealth of information brought about by the Internet and related phenomenon have drastically changed the way that citizens interact with each other, with events and with their government.

We protest when there seems to be no other solution. In the 60s, there were few avenues for the disenfranchised to be heard and they used protests quite effectively. We use other methods. We start non-profit groups, we volunteer, we host events. Simply put, we roll up our sleeves and try to make change with sweat and labor. Why do we do this? Because we can and because it is much more effective.

You can argue that the protests of the 60s and early 70s brought about change, but most historians recognize that all it really did was galvanize public opinion and create intractable camps. It was external events and individuals within the system that final got things done.

When I say “protests,” I mean the anti-war protests – which didn’t get us out of Vietnam. The anti-war protests that just alienated the public and created a backlash. We didn’t get out of Vietnam because of protests, we got out because Saigon fell.

I do not mean the non-violent resistance campaign of the civil rights movement, which was particularly effective because it was a campaign of civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is not the same as an anti-war protest, it is instead the logical outgrowth of believing that laws or norms are violating rights and dignity. It worked partially because of public support and partially because it crippled the economy.

This is why anti-war protesting doesn’t work – it has no economic effect and even unpopular wars are complicated in public opinion. The American people are decidedly against the war in Iraq and think it was a mistake, but that doesn’t mean we’re not divided over how to handle the situation now. Polls show that most feel that the war was a mistake but that we cannot remove our troops without causing further harm. Seems a little more complex than “Bring Our Troops Home Now,” doesn’t it.

jamms's avatar

there are no leaders any more. who is today’s Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, JFK, Ghandi, and so on?

i disagree with the generation y comment. i believe gen y has a solid anti-establishment upbringing. we were raised on nirvana, rage against the machine, radiohead. I don’t think we could have been a teenager in a better time.

now those 80’s kids, thats another story.

Amurph's avatar

Um, wow, I’m kind of upset that no one has mentioned yet that people DO PROTEST.

All the time. There have been massive rallies in New York City and Washington DC and almost every other major American City against the war, against The Administration,and for many other issues over the past 8 years.

I’ve been to DOZENS of protests, big and small.

The reason no one knows about this is because it is rarely, if ever, covered by the media. We had a protest in NYC where people were standing crammed shoulder to shoulder for MILES. There was little to no news coverage.

We only hear about protests in this country when they turn “violent”. I put this in quotes because by violent, the media means property destruction (which I am not condoning). I’ve seen police-on-protester violence before, but never seen it covered in the media.

I DO agree that most of Americans are apathetic, and have been made to think that way. However, I think we’re a lot less apathetic than anyone believes. I imagine we’re all fed up and pissed off but don’t realize that most other people feel the same way.

OK, thanks for letting me blow off some steam.

Amurph's avatar

OK, yes, fine. People protest for all sorts of reasons. But they still do protest.

allengreen's avatar

40+ years of TV programming and high frutose corn syrup have left the population brain dead, overly entertained, selfish, and disconnected from our neighbors and communities by tecnhological devices.

Like http://allaboutfrogs.org/stories/boiled.html

jvgr's avatar

I think the question was relating to the 60’s when protests were widespread and happening simultaneously and persistently. This did attract more attention that the large but infrequent gatherings of people today.

The answer is that those of us who were of those times became professors, teachers, doctors, stock brokers, housewives and househusbands. The republicans are certainly trying to bring the issue up, but it’s really a younger persons game.

If this financial crisis goes the way many predict, you’ll undoubtedly find an opportunity to relive those fond days gone by. If not, you’ll just have to keep wondering.

To be honest, the race riots that preceded the institutional protests were much scarier. If the economy keeps sinking and those who seem to increasingly enjoy spouting inflammatory, hateful, racist rhetoric and blaming all of our ills on the illegal immigranst or disenfranchised citizens; you may get to see a 2 for 1

steelmarket's avatar

I agree with @cwilbur and @jvgr. Most of us who protested in the ‘60s later realized that it was more of a social thing than an effective engine of change, so we did not pass along the “tradition” to our kids. And, we realized that the TV networks used us to sell soap and cigarettes.

wowy123's avatar

That was when the economy didnt suck and if you got fired you could get a new job. Now it is really hard to find a new job and with protest they will get fired and be on welfare and be homeless.

plethora's avatar

The late 60s and the 70s were dysfunctional periods. Thank God they’re gone. If you don’t think the populace is protesting now, you are not looking very hard.

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