Why Do People Protest?


June 18, 2009 by J. Madson

I was thinking about the numbers of people protesting in Iran this week and I wondered why don’t we see protests of this magnitude in the United States. What about the protesters’ responsibilities? What about the peoples’ jobs? Their school?

I wonder if our society is so consumeristic and we are so enslaved to making money and conforming to societal cues that protests of this magnitude are unlikely to ever occur.

Does anyone have any thoughts on whether protests of this magnitude could occur here, and if not why?


2 thoughts on “Why Do People Protest?

  1. Forest Simmons says:

    I think that if the election had been stolen from Obama, there would have been massive protests.

    But toture, bombing the innocent, etc. are accepted as business as usual by most US citizens. We trust our leaders when they tell us that these things are necessary for our security.

    Bailing out the rich while foreclosing on the poor seems to get a pass, too, as does eliminating single payer universal health care from consideration. People suspect that the experts don’t have their best interest at heart, but they are not sure of themselves. They are inclined to trust the “invisible hand of the market” when reassured by the experts.

    2 Nephi 28:14,21
    “… they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men. … And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.”

    The few that have taken to the streets here have been herded into traps called “free speech zones” or rounded up and jailed to the tune of tasers.

    Paul Craig Roberts reported in a recent counterpunch article at


    ‘… Fearful of American citizens, the US government is building concentration camps, apparently all over the country. According to news reports, a $385 million US government contract was given by the Bush/Cheney Regime to Cheney’s company, Halliburton, to build “detention centers” in the US. The corporate media never explained for whom the detention centers are intended.

    Most Americans dismiss such reports. “It can’t happen here.” However, In northeastern Florida not far from Tallahassee, I have seen what might be one of these camps. There is a building inside a huge open area fenced with razor wire. There is no one there and no signs. The facility appears new and unused and does not look like an abandoned prisoner work camp.’

  2. Joseph says:

    Interesting points brought up by Forest and J. My knee-jerk reaction to why there seems to be less engagement in this country then what is going on in Iran would be what I mentioned in a comment on “Support Our Persian Brothers and Sisters”: everyone’s stuck in front of their TV’s. But Iran has TV and television and I’m sure television addicts as well, so that doesn’t explain everything. I think Forest’s point about certain things getting people excited while other things, that should rile people up, don’t.

    I also feel that we are kind of brow-beaten in this country (interesting to think that we might be more brow-beaten in our so-called democracy than the Iranians are under a dictatorship). After the 50’s crackdown on “communism” and paranoia about unions and anything that might be truly democratic, people are leary of participating in anything that might be percieved that way. And our media tends to demonize those sorts of things.

    And there is the “it wouldn’t happen here.” And I think J. has a very good point about our being a consumerist society. There are lots of things.

    Ultimately, though, I question the value of sign-holding type protests. Really, does anyone change their minds because of a sign? It seems to me people either honk in anger, honk in support, wave or flip the bird, or they yell support or insults and obsenities. Isn’t it more productive (even if not completely reliable) to put pressure directly on our elected officials through phone calls, e-mails, and letters?

    I always figured riding a bike or using public transportation would say more about your feelings about dependence on Middle-Eastern oil and our wars there than holding a sign up at a rally that you probably drove to using Middle-Eastern oil products.

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