More protests, please; America should be just like all the other countries

More protests, please; America should be just like all the other countries

Witnessing a nascent anti-police brutality movement from a distance has given me a different perspective on it, because the novelty of getting out in the streets in America and demanding justice stands in stark contrast to the utter ubiquity of such actions in other parts of the world.

That doesn’t mean such actions always lead to success; in fact, challenging power often fails. But it is a tool in the public’s arsenal, as much as voting or any other civic effort. We have a long way to go in America to rediscover a daily regimen of mass public protest as an altogether normal – indeed, fundamental – component of the rights of citizenship.

Take Argentina, for example. I wasn’t going around looking for civil unrest in the federal capital of Buenos Aires last week. But I saw a large rally of transportation workers outside a gathering of economic leaders, complete with music and fireworks. …

I found the same commitment to resistance in Mexico. We all know about the movement that has arisen in response to the deaths of 43 student protesters, a case of official corruption and collusion between federal authorities and drug cartels. But behind the headlines, back in August I saw a prominent town square in Jalisco state completely occupied by protesters, who had erected a tent city in opposition to what they called the despotism of the local government. …

We used to have this same belief in America, that street action mattered and needed to be nurtured. …

But sometime between 1776 and now, mass engagement became separated from American political DNA. Like solar panel manufacturing, the United States invented the political protest and then let it wither away while other countries kept it alive.

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