May 3, 2010

Peaceful And Not-So-Peaceful Demonstrations

I read this item in today’s Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web Today, published daily as part of the Opinion Journal by James Taranto, and having been to many demonstrations in my time during which I had the opportunity to observe “peaceful” liberals in action, couldn’t resist putting in my two cents.

“In a blunt caution to political friend and foe, President Barack Obama said Saturday that partisan rants and name-calling under the guise of legitimate discourse pose a serious danger to America’s democracy, and may incite ‘extreme elements’ to violence,” the Associated Press reports from Ann Arbor, Mich.

Two thousand miles away, another AP dispatch reports, there occurred an example of exactly what the president was warning about:

Close to 20 businesses were damaged after what started as a peaceful immigrants’ rights march in downtown Santa Cruz [Calif.] turned violent, requiring police to call other agencies for help, authorities said.

Police spokesman Zach Friend said an estimated 250 people started marching through the city around 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

It was a harmonious but “unpermitted and unsanctioned event,” he said, until some in the crowd started breaking windows and spraying paint on retail shops that line the downtown corridor.

Friend said he wasn’t sure if the damage was caused by people marching in support of immigrants’ rights, or if the group was “infiltrated by anarchists.”

Anarchy signs were spray-painted on some of the buildings.

“They’re a group of people who seem to fancy themselves as revolutionaries, but what they really are are a group of morons,” Friend said.

You’ve got to love the way the AP describes this: It started as a peaceful march but “turned violent.” It was totally harmonious “until some in the crowd started breaking windows.” And the window breakers might have just been infiltrators!

At “peaceful” liberal demonstrations during which I was part of the conservative counter-demonstration assemblages (usually, what we have is the lefties on one side of the street, the conservatives on the other), I have uniformly, not just occasionally observed one constant, other than that while conservatives arrive on our own as individuals or in small groups, a large number of the liberals and entourage are bussed in from all points in order to bolster the size of their crowd for media exposure purposes, and that is that when everybody has gone:

1. The conservative side of the street is immaculate, no trash or property damage to be seen, whereas,

2. The liberal side of the street is utterly trashed, garbage all over the sidewalk, newspaper vending machines and other non-bolted-down artifacts overturned and/or tossed into the actual street, also a none-too-rare garnish of graffiti and/or broken windows.

Moving right along to complete WSJ Editorial Editor Taranto’s actual topic, which compares the biased treatment liberals receive in such situations over conservatives…

Compare this with the lead paragraph of the AP’s March 20 dispatch on the anti-ObamaCare tea-party protests:

House Democrats heard it all Saturday–words of inspiration from President Barack Obama and raucous chants of protests from demonstrators. And at times it was flat-out ugly, including some racial epithets aimed at black members of Congress.

The claims of racial epithets have since been disputed and were never substantiated, but let’s give the AP the benefit of the doubt and assume that at the time, the reporter knew of no reason to doubt the word of the congressmen making the claims.

Even so, had the tea-party protesters gotten the Santa Cruz treatment, the AP would have noted that the rally was completely nonviolent, even if it featured some ugly words; that there was no ugliness at all until the protest “turned ugly”; and that the people who (allegedly) shouted the ugly words might well have been infiltrators.

If the Santa Cruz protesters had gotten the tea-party treatment, by contrast, the AP would have described the event simply as a riot and would not have distinguished between the peaceful protesters and the violent few who might be infiltrators anyway.

What’s more, conservative politicians and commentators would be sounding a constant refrain–echoed by the mainstream media–that politicians are inciting the violence with “antigovernment” statements like this one, reported April 23 by CBS News:

President Obama suggested today that the immigration bill expected to be signed into law in Arizona is a “misguided” piece of legislation that “threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

We don’t think that journalists should give the Santa Cruz protesters the tea-party treatment or the tea partiers the Santa Cruz treatment. Both sides ought to get the same treatment–fair treatment–from those whose job is to cover the news impartially.

As for Obama, his efforts to demonize the opposition are unseemly and unpresidential.

Given the breadth of his policies’ unpopularity, they amount to an attack on the majority of Americans. That seems likely they will prove politically unwise as well.

That, as they (whoever they are) say, is for sure!

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2 Responses to “Peaceful And Not-So-Peaceful Demonstrations”

  1. Harrigan246 Says:

    Been to a couple of those myself, counterdemos, I mean. I’ve seen the same thing.

    It’s real enlightening about libs when they protest for “peace”, then destroy everything in sight (that the victimized owners of the destroyed property, who have absolutely nothing to do with the reason for the protests and didn’t have anything to do with picking the location for them, either, have to pay for).

  2. Seth Says:

    Harrigan –

    It just goes to show that your general purpose, garden variety liberal could care less about other people’s property, even though they’ll throw a s–tfit if the same happens to theirs.