Another Perspective

The Media ‘Protests’ Too Much

Egypt's protesters enjoy coverage never extended to, say, Tea Partiers.

By 2.1.11

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Just as Obama said to a minister that deciding whether life begins at conception is "above my pay grade," I would not dare to predict the results of whatever has happened let alone what the United States should have done in reaction to the so-called "protests" in the Middle East and Africa right now: it's above my pay grade.

But I do know "protest" when I see it and for the most part, our American media and chattering class is all too willing to declare just about anything it deems worthy as "protest" and anyone in the streets as a "protester."

Now when I was but a teenager growing up in Washington D.C. in the late sixties and early seventies, our city was the epicenter of "protests," mostly for (black) civil rights and against the Vietnam undeclared war.

From the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam in November, 1969 to "May Day," in 1971, as a typical teenager at the time, I joined in what were termed as "protests." Now the former was a peaceful protest: peaceful to the point of boredom and any effort by breakaway "protesters" to incite violence was booed down by the vast majority of the marchers. The latter was not a "protest"; it was a call to "civil disobedience" if not outright violence. The former had very, very few arrests: the latter resulted in thousands of arrests, some justified, some not.

My "arrest" at May Day was not: I was among the many stragglers who found themselves simply walking on the streets of Washington (I was walking home through Georgetown to my family's home in Cleveland Park) who were summarily picked up by U.S. Park Police and the Metropolitan Washington Police Department's notorious "CDU" (Civil Disobedience Unit) and taken near RFK Stadium. I had only been there to cheer on Sonny Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer at Redskins games.

Although many of my "comrades" at May Day participated in violence or civil disobedience (such as attempting to block roads and bridges), I did nothing illegal except perhaps maybe smoke pot and listen to the Jefferson Airplane on The Mall. I was doing absolutely nothing disorderly walking on Wisconsin Avenue in May of 1971 when a paddy wagon pulled up, two U.S. Park Police jumped out, opened up the doors and threw my longhaired butt in the back with about a dozen other people. We all swapped stories and they were all the same: all we had been doing was walking on the streets of D.C. All of us changed our names to "John Doe".

Now people get arrested all the time, most often intentionally, at so-called "protests" in the United States: from Members of Congress at the South African embassy, to pro-lifers, to gay members of the U.S. military, some of whom recently chained themselves to the White House fence. But it is most often reported if not depicted by the media that those people were arrested for "protesting" this or that: that is not true.

There are no laws that I know of that make it a crime to simply protest: there are laws that make it a crime to trespass, chain yourself to government property, impede traffic, or assemble in an unlawful manner.

How ironic is it that the media proudly reports that President Obama -- ever the eternal community organizer -- is speaking out on behalf of those in Egypt and elsewhere who are "protesting," even if some may not just be protesting but inciting or participating in violence (much of the televised coverage I have seen has shown both the police and the "protesters" engaging in violence), yet the same media depicts the past year of Tea Party protests as some kind of anarchist, ruthless, violence-inspiring gathering of uniformed thugs. How much did the media focus in on one or two people who showed up packing at a Tea Party rally and, gasp, those horrible, racist signs that depicted the President in an unflattering manner?

To the best of my knowledge, there were no arrests for violence nor any actual gunfire at any Tea Party rallies, the areas where the rallies took place were left spotless versus the piles of trash and garbage left after Obama's inauguration and Ed Schultz's MSNBC Rules Rally.

The one Tea Party rally I observed in person (I am neither a Tea Party member nor necessarily a supporter) was populated by middle-aged folks who for the most part looked like tourists from Kansas wanting to know where the Vietnam Memorial or a water fountain were able to be located. Contrast that with the annual World Bank/IMF "protesters" who show up in Washington and elsewhere with masks, work gloves, lawyers and chains, ready to rock and roll with the police.

Whether or not the "protests" that have taken place in Egypt will satisfy the bloodthirsty American media's litmus test for legendary violence and brutality (the now proverbial Tiananmen Square slaughter) is anybody's guess: to some, the existing government's reaction to the "protests" already has and will far surpass Commie China's response. I just know that what is going on now has far surpassed "protest": it has become armed rebellion. The real question is who will be providing the means toward armed revolution and for what purpose: will it be the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran's secret police, or a truly democratic, peace-loving group of patriots.

Remember: Iran's Islamic revolution started out with kidnapping and "protests" and ended up with a tyrannical, Islamic based government. Will whatever replaces these toppled governments be much better and will they in turn allow future "protests" the media will embrace?

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About the Author

Nicholas Thimmesch II is a longtime Washington-based media consultant who served in the Reagan White House.