Time Protestor Person of the Year
By Greg Grist
Even if editorial staff at Time magazine dubbed “the Protestor” as this year’s “Person-of-the-Year” doesn’t necessarily mean people at the Time, or it’s backstage managers, has garnered much appreciation or respect for “personhood” of the average outspoken dissenter. Likely they surveyed the landscape and realized the inevitable conclusion—2011 has had a lot of ubiquitous protestation around the world. So then an inevitable conclusion became refreshingly obvious—popular dissent is here all over as many status quos are being challenged.
Still it is somewhat amazing this realization has even infiltrated the mainstream media to have also found such heady clarity for a change. Holy Hallelujah!
But, then again, one can be reasonably sure some of the protests around the world, especially some in the Middle East, were, at least partly, inspired and bankrolled by the American taxpayer via our American imperialist foreign policy of interventionism (either initiated or more likely reaction to realities on the ground). So our, so-called, intelligentsia can admit surprise to events overtaking the world globally as “not” a dull year.
But “We”, The People, of protest-personage, need to ask about the “quality” of various protests, as what they might mean. We would be foolish to assume the mainstream media is going to tell us much regarding the truth to motives or events. That simply has not been their forte. Currently some within their industry are working to steal the Iowa republican nomination from Ron Paul with their spiel on how many have not made up there minds and the juggling of “close” polling numbers. Yet it is in the interpretation of the details of various events that often matter—and who might try to dominate in the interpretive process and what details they choose to focus or ignore.
Nevertheless, be it democratic sentiment or not, the fact is not every person’s opinion is equal. Some people actually know more things than do others. Some people are more informed and wiser than are others.
So too not all who protests are equal in respect to their attitudes or the causes that motivate them. Some, for example, may be paid to protest and cause trouble—just like some who write opinion pieces may be paid to slant their opinions. So the only true democracy regarding information and knowledge lies within the realization that no person or source is all knowing, or infallible, when it comes to opining or demanding of attention.
Conceptually, to “protest” usually means to “attest” to something contrary to some kind of status quo. For example, one might “detest”, that is to hold hostility toward another person’s, or groups’, policy position. But within the definition of “protest” there is claim to be “witness” to something—as in “testament” to some form of awareness. A protest is an act to publicly “testify” for or against something.
Motives and circumstances to motivate people to make public protest are as variable as is human nature itself. We meet people everyday of the week that claim to have worthy opinions others should recognize on any number of issues. And yet we know many opinions are not worth much merit—as far as quality goes. And this is especially true in respect to political matters—and especially in this culture in which there is “so” much money and propaganda effort involved in trying to convince the masses what attitudes and opinions to hold.
For example, many people have either a theist or atheist position on global warming; that is to say, they either are, more or less, convinced of the righteousness of their defined opinions (even if not even remotely aware how much special interest money and enterprise is involved in financing and staging the debate, as to skew the very fabric of their thoughts on the matter to one form or another). Still many have made up their minds.
Moreover many research scientists are financed by special interests themselves and are not to be trusted. And because there are such big economic consequences many industries are highly involved in propaganda efforts.
But given all these red flags most people are not educated enough to have anything but an agnostic’s point of view—that is to admit they are not really sure—because the debate is so political—and so many of its arguments are themselves polluted.
Instead we have many True Believers (Eric Hoffman’s term and title of book), who may in fact be full of self-righteous attitude but nevertheless may be misinformed on any number of related debates within the great debate. But there they are screaming for the heads of those they have learned to hate—maniacs many.
One comes to wonder why, with all the various addictions group therapies available such as within the Alcoholics Anonymous, no one has see it fit to start a Politics Anonymous group meeting in which political addicts come to realize they are so addicted to various forms of political persuasion because it allows them to avoid dealing with their own issues? But apparently being addicted to political hostility and political self-righteousness is considered normal here in America? Nevertheless the issue has become so bad here within the United States that even many professional pundits and political candidates take their views so seriously—as supposedly assume to understand the issues so clearly—even when in truth the issues are very complex, you’d think mass culture suffers from interminable insanity. Just look at several Presidential candidates running this year and ask yourself why these people actually believe they should be elected leaders of the non-free world. How much more redeeming it would be if they would just go to a Politics Anonymous meeting and begin to admit to some of their delusions of grandeur?
Equally in regards to global warming debates we have people who want to believe there are “no” serious pollution issues at all—mere figments of deluded minds. They want to believe enterprising capitalists should be able to do whatever they want as long as they are creating jobs and enhancing the economy (the economy being our new secular God). Such people come to despise every form of green activist or person who evince any sympathy for environmental issues as some craven lunatic fringe. Yet the environment is precisely where many battles lines are drawn.
Still so many, on both the left and right, presume to have it understood. It’s the other side who has it so wrong! Take, for example, The Nation’s recent “Capitalism vs. The Climate” debate by Naomi Klein (see November 28, 2011) in which it is “presumed” there is no real debate about the science itself? We are expected to assume the good guys in the white hats over there don’t have to explain any discrepancies blasted by presumably “low-brow” Internet web-sights like WhatReallyHappened.com in which there was major exposure last year of “many” emails that showed manipulation of data between important scientists in the field of climate change? Equally we are expected to ignore claims that some politicos, like Al Gore, and companies are “cashing-in” on the cap and trade industry evolving? The point here is, Mr. Klein and The Nation, these issues need to be addressed. You can’t just gloss over this propaganda like it does not exist and still expect to have a real debate with America. Perhaps it is rubbish or perhaps WRH is financed by special interest money but the fact is they have reach in persuasion and people need to address all the important realities if they choose to be involved in policy trends of this nation.
Contrarian websites are forms of protests as well. And they too have been busy earning the Protestor of the Year award.
Obviously it is necessary to realize many opinions may not be of much value in respect to establishing truth regarding reality. But such multiplicity of opinion certainly does signify peoples’ “level” of intensity as to their various mindsets. A wise man once said you should take note as to what it is that causes people to feel angry—because in their minds such issues are important.
Therefore we do not disregard opinion mongering nor protestation—we simply note it is but one aspect of perspective that needs to be considered. (The majority is not always wrong—but often enough the majority can be hoodwinked—to not give the wise much comfort.) And yet this should not be any indication to college nerds on the left that they are invariably in some honorific camp all the time that they need not explain their positions to the mere masses who have been drinking elsewhere.
It goes without saying people, when piqued at others’ attitudes, disdainfully are likely to quip the trite: “Well opinions are like armpits everybody’s got them…” not realizing or caring of course that everybody needs them. Yet we all know this populist sentiment that not everyone is a genius on every subject. No one willingly defers to just anyone’s attitude on everything.
And yet many of us Americans, even if we not well informed on issues, or as often being misinformed, are nevertheless massively impressed with our own opinions. Is it because we have a “right” to have an opinion (one human right hard to take away as the Powers-That-Be dismantle the Bill of Rights) and that we are encouraged to have many opinions by a constant barrage of propaganda encouraging us to consume whatever media loud mouth has to say (often well financed) that conditions us to believe our views so stellar? Is it because we can vote that it leads us to think our personal opinions matter? But this is the real democracy—the inflationary notion that peoples’ opinions do matter—even when such a reality is far from ideal.
So as long as elections and plebiscites (votes of the plebs) are honestly and fairly held (and often enough they are not) common peoples’ opinions “do” matter—no matter how misinformed or naive—at least as far as votes might determine policy. The science of politics has figured out how to manipulate people nevertheless. Consequently there is a lot of energy, time, money, and cunning utilized in shaping a somewhat torpid nation’s capacity for opinion—via various mass media enterprise.
[Note: It is “not” politically correct to hold a view of prejudice toward the “average” person’s opinion in this society touted a democracy—but it is amazing how many people hold such an elitist attitude about their own camp’s set of attitudes—that one’s own opinions so righteous—while others who disagree are stupid. Elitism isn’t really so special but part of being an ego and often an ego that likes to fit into a crowd.]
But the mere fact people are stuffed with opinions, that they may or may not share with many others, is not the same thing as presuming protests are worthy of listening or reading—even if a majority, or even if 99% of the people hold to those opinions.
Take for example the three purported wise men millennium ago, who went to Bethlehem while following a special star, to pay homage to Jesus residing, as a baby, in a barn-like manger. As we well know many people take this quaint impression at some form of face value. And yet an upstart could point out the word “magi” refers to “magicians” from the Zoroastrian religion East in Persia—which is to suggest they represented priests of a “different” religion entirely. This upstart might also point out trade routes came through the Judeo/Palestinian area from many directions back then and likely traders dealt with more than precious metals and incense, while caravanning across long swaths of the Middle East. For example, at least, according to Richard Rudgley, author of Essential Substances and The Encyclopaedia of Psychoactive Substances, drugs have been used for thousands of years in those same areas. And the three kings, Balthasar representing Arabia, Melchior of Persia, and Gaspar king of India (see Merriam-Webster’s Encylopedia of World Religions), were from regions that indulged in marijuana, haoma, agaric mushroom and opium. He might argue Zoroastrian priests, as well as some Indian yogis, were noted to have indulged with some of these mind-alternating drugs for religious and spiritual reasons. Then upstart could opine the three magi represented drug traders before such chemistry was officially outlawed. This might give him cause to claim California should legalize smoking marijuana for religious reasons.
Granted such an attitude might not be popular with many people; nor it might seem a bit sophistic and not seem sound in logic to some. But just because it is a rare opinion does not mean it is any less valid to the more commonly held opinion that Jesus, as a baby, had some special affinity to gold or incense. And yet this then is what makes horse races—the fact that people don’t agree on issues—even while people living today were not anywhere close to planet earth at the time of Herod or the Roman Occupation of the Middle East.
Protestors are thought to be “outside” the usual channels of information flow and power sharing. At least some are “counter” to a monopoly of information infrastructure and free association. This is the case of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, and the mainstream media monopoly of attitude management, and well as counter to the monopoly of government policy by lobby bribery of mostly the wealthy and corporations.
OWS is protesting against a status quo of corrupt government, corrupt news media, corrupt plutocracy and corrupt corpocracy; and so it was necessary to operate from without the usually sharing of attitude and exchange of opinion because a corrupt but powerful class and the mainstream media ignored many of The Peoples’ opinions and issues. OWS is a consensus that something is seriously wrong with status quo of the United States and this includes its foreign policy abroad that is so costly to the American taxpayer—especially all these unnecessary wars, covert wars, and build up of the police state.
It is but a modicum of achievement Time magazine attributed the status of “personhood” to the masses of people in the lower and middle classes—even while they work for the personhood of corporate America. Meanwhile the U.S. Government too often props up dictators, torturers, and the minority of people of wealth in other countries—and not masses of peoples of those countries.
To have this same personhood of Protestor selected Person-of-the-Year is also a bit dubious in achievement”, out of all the choices possible—even if it is true that several hundred thousands of people have actively engaged in such protests around the world.
And yet we must recognize that such protests were not simply the spontaneous reaction of naïve or misinformed people but rather the result of not just suffering consequences but by realizations being built up from “sources” of information, many “outside” the mainstream, lame-stream media, to learn a more reality based awareness. In another words it was the consternation of alternative opinion and documentation by “many” insightful people that created alternative views of awareness that helped lead to these protests.
In another words it was the alternative media and people-as-media that created awareness that created motivation to protests and to espouse slogans that represented a more complex awareness.
But any acknowledgement of the peoples’ personhood as actively engaged in voicing opinion is a small gesture. It doesn’t even begin to address a huge world of corruption—especially within Washington D.C. and Wall Street.
Still many protests might not have happened had it not been because of alternative media as providing continuous value to The People—irrespective of the levels of pay they receive for such effort—or if they get paid at all. Nevertheless they too protested “daily” with often well thought out arguments and discovered sets of facts.
It might be books, or videos posted on the Internet. It could be radio or writings but the exchange has been voluminous. And The People must continue to look outside the mainstream box to find valuable investigative reporting, opinion, and guidance. People like Amy Goodman at DemocracyNow.org and radio like Scott Horton at Antiwar.com (with Justin Raimondo and company writing great political commentary on the Internet) are a few of these awareness builders. As the democracy of media continues to evolve more sources can better inform the people of this country and the world about justice and truth.
When big corporations either own media or finance their advertising we need to beware. We equally need to be wary when their presumed media experts invest their own monies in companies that profit them, such as owning shares in companies within the military industrial complex. We equally need to be concerned with the opinions they espouse are being “centralized” on the East Coast of various forms of corporate or governmental power.
So thank “all” you protesters including even the whining of the mainstream media. But thank you so-called conspiracy theory websites like WhatReallyHappened.com, Rense.com, and InfoWars.com, etc. (they may have different points of view and areas of focus—some at conflict—but diversity often enhances the sophistication of the information consumer). All these sources and their creators and “many” more have equally created awareness and concern. They too have been a large part of the “testimony” of the Protestor of the Year Award.
Granted that some child could point out to his or her friends Santa Claus is too fat to fit down many chimneys. He or she could make issue that Santa is seldom scene as sooty or dirty and he never has had any recorded fire wounds or triage treatments. But others may scream such baloney is nothing but conspiracy theories. They could argue the idea that some roofs too steep or small to land eight standing rein deer as stupid and knit picking as testimony. They may want conformity on all fronts and call the kid un-patriot. They may call him Godless to not believe in a Santa that rewards people for being naughty or nice. They may wish my mass culture right or wrong. But it is human nature to question, to debate and to voice opinion even if necessary to take it to the street.
Santa Claus has the same right to hold his sign just as high and his reindeer to chorus in just as loudly. After all the economy is everything.
so… it was indeed an interesting year.
Happy New Years all you people of personhood and keep on keeping on—yeah you protesting monologues! Amen.