Too much protest?

Really enjoyed this post from Seth Masket bringing some historical perspective to current protests:

I’ve been thinking a lot about Martin Luther King Jr.’s admonishment while observing heated discussions about the wave of protests across the country in the wake of recent grand jury acquittals in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York. Many have complained that looting in Missouri, traffic blocking in New York, divisive protests at National Football League games, student walkouts in Denver, and so forth are unhelpful and counterproductive to the cause of racial equality and harmony. Even if some are legitimately outraged by police violence against unarmed African Americans, they seem to say, why can’t those people be more like King, marching peacefully and winning over the majority of sympathetic whites?

It’s also worth remembering that King himself wasn’t always the non-controversial saint he’s revered as today. Back in 1966, according to Gallup, 63 percent of Americans had a negative opinion of King, while just 33 percent had a positive opinion of him. Today, 95 percent of American hold a positive opinion of King. Also, according to a 1966 Harris poll, 50 percent of whites felt that King was “hurting … the Negro cause of civil rights,” while only 36 percent thought he was helping.

King is remembered very selectively, and conveniently, today by those urging moderation among protestors. But we should remember that King and the movement he led were, even if non-violent, disruptive. They were challenging. They broke laws. They made whites uncomfortable. [emphasis mine]

Damn good points.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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