The president’s star gets spit on, defaced with graffiti, and was once defiled by a dog trained to defecate on demand. Unlike insults that can be washed away, or scrubbed off, there has been a disturbing trend to try and obliterate Trump’s star, completely, with pickaxes and sledgehammers, the latest attempt of which took place a few days ago.
No one questions the right to protest, to make one’s views known in a peaceful manner. Vandalism, however, isn’t protected speech and the perpetrator, who turned himself in to the Beverly Hills police the same day, will face felony charges. A far more creative protestor, who wasn’t arrested, erected a little wall made out of wooden blocks around Trump’s star to protest the proposed southern border wall.
The diapered, phone toting, baby Trump balloon is, similarly, an ingenious protest. It was flown over Parliament during the recent visit by Trump to Britain, and duly authorized by local authorities in London.
It’s not as if every protest, though, needs permission to proceed. Rosa Parks didn’t ask permission to move from the back of the bus to the front. Vietnam war protestors, frequently, didn’t obey orders to disperse during demonstrations and, from time to time, were beaten by police for their civil disobedience. It was a price they were willing to pay to speed the end of the war. More current, people who stage sit-ins in legislators’ offices, or hallways in the capitol, willingly subject themselves to arrest to publicize alternate views, and go to jail peacefully.
Civil disobedience is a long-standing way to advance causes. It has been around in America since the colonists dumped tea in Boston Harbor to protest taxes levied by the crown, raising the question of the difference, if any, between the pickaxe-wielding destroyer of Trump’s star and outraged colonists who fought King George III, burned him in effigy and destroyed property.
Protest has evolved. The British suppressed speech violently, including resort to deadly force, sufficient to start a war. Whatever Trump’s faults, and they are many, the U.S. government was far more violent towards American citizens during the civil rights era, and the Vietnam War, than now. We’ve advanced, hopefully, and pickaxes should be replaced by peaceful exhibits of displeasure, marches, signs, raised voices, and even balloons. They’re more befitting an engaged society than actions that encourage resort to more extreme measures.