So, I am musing about a thing that I don’t really know anything about, and thought I would post it and expose my ignorance.
The musing started this morning from trying, in a discussion, to make a distinction between the “protesters” and people who were not protesting but who were nonetheless really concerned about economic devastation. I don’t think it’s worth trying to persuade people who threaten state officials and demand instant revocation of all public health orders. But I do think it’s important to communicate with people who are concerned that the states have gone too far or are reacting too slowly, or just that nobody is looking out for them in all of this.
That distinction I was trying to make led me to wonder: do the millions of Conservatives who are not cosplaying fascist-nationalist militia see the protests and think that’s us?
When I see left-of-center protests—Black Lives Matter, let’s say, or the Women’s March, or anti-war protests, or Occupy—I tend to think that the people protesting are us in some sense. And even more, I tend to think that if I weren’t a lazy-ass suburban Dad who hates crowds, I would be out there as well. Not always, of course, and at every protest I’ve actually been to I’ve felt a little alienated. There are always individual people or small subgroups, too, with some signs or chants that I reject, sure. My general feeling, though, when I see the pictures taken at the protests that are generally on my side, is that they are us.
I assume that this is largely true on the other side. That most Conservatives, f’r’ex, felt that while they personally weren’t going to dress up and go to Tea Party rallies, the people who were there were like them in some real sense. And maybe most Conservatives are feeling like the people protesting at state houses are them, too. Or maybe they think that those folk are not them at all. I don’t know. It seems like I should know.
This is complicated by the media, of course, and I mean ‘media’ in this case in the sense of all the stuff in between the events and the people learning about them. Most of the pictures of left-ish protests I see were published by left-ish institutions (such as The Grauniad f’r’ex) or posted on-line by friends, or friends of friends, or at least linked approvingly by friends. Conservative presumably saw different photos of those, and are presumably seeing different photos of these events. At most of the biggish protests, I knew people who were there, and who complained about the rest of the world only seeing the handful of irresponsible losers who drew attention from what most of the people were doing; perhaps Conservatives have friends at the state house protests making the same complaints.
So. If it’s important—and I think it is—to effectively talk to Conservatives about what states are actually planning for the public health emergency, then it’s important to know what Conservatives think about the protests, innit? Not just whether they approve of them or not, but whether they think the protesters are them. If that’s true—if they’re seeing the stuff I’m seeing and thinking those folk are us then I don’t know how to talk to them at all. But if they’re not, then there’s hope.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,