There are a lot of things about us women
That sadden me, considering how men
See us as rascals.
As indeed we are!
My first protest was in the 6th grade. George Bush Jr. was coming to speak in support of Senator Jim Talent at Missouri Southern and most of the kids at my school were getting out that day to go see him speak. Whereas, my mother got me out to join others in a protest against the atrocities of the Iraq war, which had long stained the media with images of tortured prisoners in what looked like black KKK cloaks. Not to mentioned the curbing of our civil liberties preceding the 9-11 disaster in the form of the U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act. My sister’s husband had just been deployed to Afghanistan as a tank operator. A talented 18 year-old would never be the same after partaking in the horrors of war. As we arrived in the dark morning hours I contemplated these things but I mostly remember feeling the boom of my voice with others. It was like electricity. I think back to it now and know what that feeling was; I felt brave.
Protest has its roots in the beginning of controlled structures and, more recently, political structures. When we are children, we protest the things we do not like and as we age, we continue to protest the things we see as unjust. After all, our right to protest is written into the very fabric of this country and our human nature. The American Revolution was started as colonies essentially refusing to pay a war tax for the French and Indian War. These revolutionaries tested the British rule by protesting it in such events as the Boston Tea Party and the formation of the Continental Congress, thus creating the country we live in today. The battles following and lives lost were incidental, which cannot be said of most modern wars. Private contractors and mercenaries have their claws in an increasingly hostile U.S. war machine.
In preparation for this article, I reviewed video interview from my November 3, 2003 protest and was pleasantly surprised to see event goers honestly encouraging a display of personal liberty; a far cry from 2017’s media coverage of Indigenous peoples sprayed with fire hoses and individuals being shoved out of their rights. The importance of bearing witness to those you may have differing opinions with cannot be reiterated enough. When used as a verb, meaning to object to, protest is our constitutional right but when used as a direct object, meaning a direct political action aimed to sway public opinion, the term becomes coercive and makes an enemy. When we spread tales of paid political protestors and shove people from our events, we are not protecting even our own constitutional rights. We are further dwindling the little power we still have as citizens to stand up for our political and individual freedoms.
The media in 2017 presents a very two-sided story for a very complex situation. Take for
example, the most recent protests at Berkley. The two sides, pro-Trump and anti-Trump, began to fight. Objection welcomes many forms of acceptance or rejection while coercion pulls the other party into a conflict. Similarly, the government being pulled into the conflict in this way works to discredit and destabilize the regimes. Take for instance Eartha Kitt who was blacklisted by LBJ (Lyndon B. Johnson) after she voiced her thoughts on the Vietnam War to his wife. The comment made poor Miss LBJ cry. Despite “silencing” this woman, opposition for the Vietnam War grew while Kitt’s career flourished in France. More so than power, the People respect bravery. Especially the bravery of those willing to dissent.
So, what about those who have no empathy for the brave? It is a much larger issue that has been defined by numerous sociology 101 professors before. The cause of blind nationalism and hate speech is, more often than not, ideological hegemony, a form of internalized oppression. It serves as one of the most domineering barriers to protest by oppressed and mistreated people. Ideological hegemony occurs when a particular ideology is pervasively reflected throughout a society. That is to say, any ideology pervading all institutions and spreading through cultural ideas and social structures. A quick look at the skinhead, Alt-Right movement is a wonderful example of such indoctrination but ideological hegemony has a much subtler tone in everything from organized religion to fashion.
“Inequalities in power have their most insidious effect when the dominant group has so much control over the ideas available to other members of society that the conceptual categories required to challenge the status quo hardly exist.”
In 2003, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that about 1 in 4 Americans incorrectly believed Iraq had used weapons of mass destruction during the Iraq war. In a separate poll in the same month, the Post found that 34% of Americans believed the United States had already found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In September another poll found that 69% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9-11. None of these claims were true. Misconceptions such as these are the result of ideological hegemony and should be avoided at all costs. These misconceptions have continued to exist in our media, video games, and various other facets leading to the Anti-Muslim rhetoric of Donald Trump and following Travel Ban on strategically targeted Muslim countries. These countries are not the enemy of the United States; they are the countries that have not blindly accepted Westernization. These are the people who love themselves, their culture, and have dreams for their country. These people are why we dissent at this time in history. These people are why we must, at all costs, protest and continue to test the dishonest, prejudice laws, which have been put in motion.