Protest too much

Last night saw 700 people march in Columbia Heights in solidarity with victims of violent homophobic crimes. But why were they marching? Is there another, better way for them to address the question of violent homophobic crimes?

I have nothing against the people who went on the march and I think they raised quite a bit of money to help with legal fees at a subsequent event, which seems like a great thing to do. But why march?

I am promoted to ask this by an incidental point in this article where we are told that people on the march last night had anti-gay slurs shouted at them.

If you think (as I do) that action needs to be taken to counter homophobic beliefs and actions then how can you argue that a march which led to public displays of homophobia is an effective way of doing this?

I would argue that people marched because they have always marched and that is the way we protest about things. However, it is not an effective way to protest about certain topics. I think it is a good way of getting media attention, of presenting demands to politicians or corporations and of rallying the troops but I do not think it is a good way of dealing with a whole group of problems we face that have to do with inter-personal relationships.

I am talking here about problems such as violence against women, racist violence, homophobic violence, anti-social behavior, inter-generational mistrust and lack of community spirit or neighborhliness. These type of problems are about the relationships between people. They are not primarily about the relationships between people and governments or companies (although governments and companies may have a role in solving these issues).

However, we are not used to protesting these issues. We are used to protesting against governments or companies. And so we do what we always do. Comforting but somewhat futile marches. No one can possibly believe that there will be less violent homophobic crimes in DC as a result of yesterdays march. Perhaps we should be thinking about actions that might achieve this. As Marx said;

“The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language.”

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