Protests in Other Countries

Businessman protester, Tehran, Iran, 13 June 2009

What’s amazing about protests in other countries is what pedestrian affairs they are. Look at this protester from Iran. In his right hand is a menacingly large piece of concrete. Obviously you don’t throw something that big and hard without intent to do serious damage. But look at his left hand. He’s got his briefcase and a folded up newspaper. And look at his outfit. He’s wearing his kakis and a work shirt. And are those the earphones of his iPod in front of his face? (I can just see Apple’s next iPod commercial: colored silhouettes of protesters in street battles, their white iPod earphone cords snaking about them as they hurl rocks and overturn cars strangely in time to, say, Rage Against the Machine or Public Enemy) This is like the Office Space of protesters. He’s in the middle of his commute when he decides that he’s mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. It was the same way with the lawyers’ protest in Pakistan where you had all these black besuited rock-hurlers.

Contrast this with the United States. If our black-robed mullah’s pronounce on an election, we all just roll over and take it. Meanwhile there’s a designated social class who participate in protests. They have a special set of tropes that includes a special garb, preferred hairstyles, a prescribed set of protest products. You go to a political protest in the United States and you could be excused for mistaking it for a 3k walk for breast cancer.

Advertisements