Americans Must Stop Being Offended By Protests

Americans Must Stop Being Offended By Protests

Protest. Talk. Improve. Repeat.
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Amendment I

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

The rights granted by the first amendment have long been heralded as perhaps the most important keys to successful American Democracy. More specifically, the rights to free speech and peaceful assembly. Being able to speak out and voice your concerns is imperative, especially in this politically disquietude time.

In the time during and since the 2016 election, there has been a vast increase in public protests and demonstrations; some viewed more favorably than others. Between former San- Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick starting the #TakeAKnee movement and the rise of the "alt-right" and their marches in Charlottesville, many Americans have been left wondering what is considered "free speech" and "peaceful assembly."

Recently, President Trump has unleashed a Twitter tirade against the NFL, calling those who choose to kneel, "Sons of bitches", as well as stating that the protests were "disrespectful" to the country, flag, and anthem. The result of these claims is a false narrative that the players are protesting the flag or anthem itself.

This protest is about race, period.

A protest, I will add, that is 100% protected under the first amendment as free speech.

As Americans, we protest when we see injustice or wish for change to take place. However, the way in which we protest is not always seen as appropriate. Some choose to link hands and block highways and are met with death threats and attempts to be run over. These are the protests that create unsafe conditions and should be stopped for the well-being of everyone.

However, some choose to gather and march for their cause. These protesters are met with, "there has to be a better way" by critics. Next, they choose to picket and chant, but are again met with, "there has to be a better way." Now, they choose to kneel or raise a fist peacefully and silently, and are once more met with "there has to be a better way."

At what point will a portion of Americans find protests to be acceptable? Just because you find it inconvenient, does not mean it is disrespectful or wrong.

Now, as for the "alt-right" and neo-Nazi marches, I am just as appalled and disgusted as most other Americans. That being said, if they have the necessary permission, then it is their full right to do so. The first amendment applies to everyone, even if we disagree with what they have to say. We do not need to retaliate with violence and taunting and anger. Instead, we can continue to promote peace, constructive dialogue, and a society that does not answer the calls of bigotry and hate.

For 226 years, Americans have enjoyed the right to speak, assemble, write, practice, and petition freely and peacefully. The day that we forgo those rights is the day that American Democracy dies. The purpose of protesting is to raise awareness of injustice and to eventually create a dialogue that facilitates the necessary changes. As the circumstances of society change, we must be willing to bridge the gaps where they appear.

Although hateful voices will always be given a platform, they can be overcome when we work together to drown them out and show our true America values. Protesting is not intended to divide one another, but to unify people to bring about change. Change that can only occur when you stop replying with scorn and start listening with an open mind.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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You Might Love Being A CNA, But That Compassion Won't Show Up In Your Paycheck

A big heart means nothing if you're struggling to make ends meet.

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To the ones who love their job and doing what they do but is on the fence about leaving their job, I was in your shoes, too.

I knew when I started my job as a CNA (certified nurse's assistant), it would be a hard one. If you know anything about the job duties of a CNA, you'll quickly understand that for all of the work that we do, we're ridiculously underpaid and overworked.

I'll start by saying I loved my job.

Though the days were long and I was on my feet more than I sat down during the day, I loved being able to help people. I loved being able to make people smile and hear a simple "Thank you" and sometimes, that's all I needed for my day to do a full 360. I could be having the worst day in the world and covered in random bodily fluids, but walking out of a resident's room and hearing them quietly tell you that they appreciate what you've done for them, that's truly the one thing that can change my entire day, knowing that my hard work doesn't go unnoticed.

But compassion doesn't pay mine or anyone else's bills.

Someone could love their job and be happy to be there every single shift, but when you're overworked but so underpaid, your compassion may not leave, but your bills begin to pile up and you're stuck with not knowing what to do. If you're anything like me, you'll be so conflicted about leaving your job to find something better financially, but you know that you're leaving a job you enjoy doing and you may not find that enjoyment elsewhere.

At the end of the day, you have to realize what would be best for you. You can be the most compassionate about your job, but that compassion means nothing if you're struggling to make ends meet. I know from experience that if you're in a field like mine, it's hard to leave because you know people will need you, but you have to do what's best for you and only you.

Compassion doesn't pay the bills.

You may have to leave a job that you love, but there are so many opportunities out there and, who knows, you might find one you enjoy just as equally.

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