Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Angry Mobs Protesting and Civil Discourse (Chuck Colson)

An interesting piece by Chuck Colson. (His breakpoint commentary). I found it interesting in the sense I was relfecting on the current Malaysian political scene.

Angry Mobs

Protesting and Civil Discourse

The media is in a near panic over those protesting the President’s health care plan. They see conspiracy and the “R” word. And they also have short memories.

The left-leaning media has, as far as I’m concerned, hit a new low.

Case in point: August 7, Friday. Paul Krugman writes a column in the New York Times blasting angry protesters showing up at town hall meetings across the country. By a very twisted process of reasoning, Krugman ended up likening those who oppose the government overhaul of the health care system to racists.

I can’t even find the right words for the outrage I feel.

This is the kind of rhetoric that does nothing but inflame already heated passions and opinions. Now maybe Krugman is simply trying to do what other backers of the President’s health care plan are trying to do—silence the opposition.

The Speaker of the House, in fact, has written that these protests are un-American. The White House has opened a tip line on its website so people can report so-called “misinformation” about health care reform efforts. And now Krugman sees racism behind the protests.

Have some of the protests gotten out of hand? Sure. Shouting down congressmen and senators is counterproductive and disrespectful. There’s no room for that kind of behavior in civilized, democratic debate.

But while the media hyperventilates over shouting matches and ascribing nefarious motives to the protesters, I can tell them a thing or two about angry protesters.

I remember very clearly being virtually barricaded in the White House during the Vietnam War, surrounded by 150,000 students. Now they were angry—and dangerous. They were turning buses over that we had stationed to try to keep them away from the White House fence. There were FBI reports that some had bombs in their possession. I myself nearly missed a gasoline can that had been ignited and thrown into the road. This was much more like a revolution in a banana republic than a protest.

I recall that soldiers of the 82nd Airborne were stationed in the Executive Office Building basement, just in case. I couldn’t get home at night because we couldn’t get the car through the crowd. Most of us stayed in the White House that weekend.

I was always struck at the time, however, by the very sympathetic press coverage of the protesters. They were seen really as just idealistic young people working for peace against a very unpopular, mistaken war.

I’m an expert in angry mobs. And at least what I’m seeing on television right now pales in comparison to the 1960s and ‘70s. Sure, some of the protesters are being uncivil and disruptive—which is wrong.

As I said Monday on BreakPoint, there is plenty to protest when it comes to the proposed and so-called health care “reforms.” And if you speak out—and you should—you should do so respectfully and with civility. Don’t get angry or get into name calling. And let the other side say their piece.

Free expression is essential to a free society. This is what distinguishes us from tyrannies. And people who have these deep convictions about the truth must be permitted to air them—the hysterical rants from the Upper East Side of New York or inside the Beltway notwithstanding.


  1. i actually really like paul krugman. and if you've seen reports on, they've actually ascertained that some of these protesters have carried placards of pics of obama with a hitler mustauche and they've associated swastika's with the democratic party. other posters have obama's pic as the joker (from batman) but his eyes have darker rings and in a country with racial history such as the US, it is reminiscent of a man who has been beat up or lynched.

    also, the "birthers" movement has repeatedly claimed that obama is not a US-citizen (false) and in some of the videos that jon stewart shows in his latest show on healthcare, the ppl at these meetings chant "i'm afraid of obama."

    i think that's racist and i'm not sure where colson's getting his "leftist media" from since almost all television and radio channels are owned by corporations and you have to look really hard for respectable "left media," which i find more trustworthy in any case.

    colson should really speak out against Fox.

  2. Don't know anything about the context of what Colson is writing about. You would know better. My interest was more of how street protests are now part and parcel of Malaysian life ... and how uncanny it is that the "racist card" is being played both in USA and Malaysia.

    I do hope that marches and protests do not lead to rioting

  3. :) yeah, i'm now writing about "the racist card" in the US and m'sia.