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As I have said here a number of times, I am not fond of symbolic politics or symbolic protest. Which is why I find this to be one of the dumbest protest ideas in recent times:
Turn Your Back on Bush
…On January 20th, 2005, we’re calling for a new kind of action… On Inauguration day, we don’t need banners, we don’t need signs, we just need people.
We’re calling on people to attend inauguration as they are: members of the public. Once through security and at the procession, at a given signal, we’ll all turn our backs on Bush. A simple, clear and coherent message.
That’s it. They want people to go to the inauguration parade, and when Bush’s car drives by, they want people to turn around and face away from the car. Surely the souls of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi are smacking their ghostly foreheads saying “why didn’t we think of that?”
Okay, problem #1 with this protest: IT WON’T ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING. Jesus fucking Christ, what do they think this is going to do? Is Bush going to feel such shame that he renounces the presidency? Are all these turned backs going to change a single Bush policy? NO! It might get them a one-line mention on nightly newscasts. Good work, team.
#2, the organizers claim that this is a “new type of action.” No it isn’t! Standing around and not doing anything is a time-honored liberal protest tactic. Standing around holding a sign, standing around watching a speaker at a rally, standing around and chanting another lifeless slogan. Hard to say if these folks are naive enough to think that standing around actually makes a difference, or if they’ve conveniently convinced themselves that it will so that they don’t have to take any actual risks.
#3, the organizers claim that this is a type of “direct action.” No it isn’t! Protesters organizing sit-ins at segregated lunch counters was direct action. Protesters blockading the entrance to a WTO meeting in Seattle was direct action. Protesters tearing down the fence surrounding the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City was direct action. This back-turning stuff is just bullshit. Symbolic action, not direct action.
#4 is that the concept has potential! “Turning your back” on someone is a figure of speech meaning that you ignore that person, or have kicked them out of your life. How beautiful would a true “Turn Your Back on Bush” movement be? Masses of people ignoring all of Bush’s insane policies and laws, showing the world that he is not our leader, he’s just a mad little puppet playing at it.
And #5, is that there are multiple ways of interpretting an action. On one hand, these protesters will be disrespecting the president by turning their backs on him as he drives by. And on the other hand, when the president gets closer to them than ever before, these protesters will choose to look the other way.
Here’s an alternative call to action.
Photos from the righteous, powerful Turn Your Back on Bush action. As you can see , it looks like as many as 20 people were confused and faced the wrong way as the limo drove by. Take that, forces of evil!
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