I feel I should start by pointing out that I have some experience with protests. Not just experience shooting them for the paper, but participating. When I was younger I regularly joined in protests against The Gulf War, or to be more accurate, The First Gulf War.
The marches I joined in were always a good bonding experience. I met a lot of nice people, and grew closer to many of my friends. They were overall a good time, no party, but fun and we expressed our political beliefs.
I think they were also ultimately ineffective, even beyond the whole war happening anyway part.
It makes is interesting to watch the immigration march each year. The political savvy of those organizing the march is impressive. Maybe I set the standard too low because of my experience; the line of moms with strollers, a line of flags from a variety of nations, a well behaved group of marchers and American flags everywhere, just everywhere, enough to make almost all the Forth of July parades I’ve seen look unpatriotic.
Maybe it’s just me, but I love how savvy that is. After all, how can not want to give legal immigrant status to a group of people who love this country? This isn’t a group of people proudly proclaiming their love of their country of birth, and I’m sure they do love that country, but this is a group of people showing their love of this country. The mass of American flags are simple, it’s obvious, but it’s effective. It is also, to me, very American to protest and play the PR game. It also makes it very difficult for me, and much of the media to create an image without an American flag.
On to the part that really impresses me personally about the immigration marches though. When I marches, we marched, we chanted, we closed down streets, we annoyed the cops, all the 60’s stereotypes. We did not sit down in the street though so we could go from seated to jumping in the air in a gigantic screaming wave. We did not stop the entire middle part of the march, let the front part walk ahead till there was a half a block of empty space so we could have a 50 yard dash. We didn’t have any protest or march games. We just marched.
We marched angry at the direction the country was going and I just don’t think groups of angry people can cause positive change as much as groups of happy people, especially when the happy people just want to be able to live here, happily. Did I mention the political savvy? Those who happen to see the march saw over a hundred thousand happy flag waving people.