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Anger, bread and circuses and a lack of real protest

October 26, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
Mike the Online Editor brought up a question the other day that was guaranteed to get my juices flowing, and I hope yours, too.

What, dear readers, is there in this nation that would set off mass protests in a full-scale nationwide movement? What would bring people off their couches, united?

I know we’ve had folks on the courthouse lawn during the past year, but I’m not talking local protests led by people who are largely unknown.

I’m talking 1960s, block the streets, march by the thousands in every city across the land to make the people’s voice heard.

I’m talking ongoing stuff, the kind that the Vietnam War sparked, that the civil rights movement sparked.

There is a lot of anger, a lot of bitterness, and a lot that is wrong, yet we go every three months in Washington laying bare the extremes with nothing in the middle changing.

There is misinformation, paranoia and arm yourselves to the teeth in case anyone comes to the door sentiment.

Has Internet sniping taken the place of true protests with picket signs and marches?

And if so, is that a dangerous precedent, given the propensity of the government to suck up all our daily data and bank it out in Utah, where, doubtlessly some algorithm is connecting this column to A. bin Laden. B. Guantanamo. C. Bad apple pies. (Always have to go for that oddball at the end. Comedic Rule of Threes.)

Are the problems finally so big and so hard to grasp that people just aren’t going to mass with pitchforks and torches? Or are there so many things so wrong that it’s all fragmented and disjointed. We fear spies in the trees and our doctor being taken away and federal spending but nothing unifies the separate causes of angst like Vietnam or civil rights did in the 1960s.

What is the touchstone?

Apparently we’re OK with the government taking our personal info and warehousing it to potentially be used against us by some Joe McCarthy- like government in the future. Apparently we’re OK with a president who lies in telling those of us with health insurance and jobs that we won’t face major changes and cost increases thanks to the socialist medicine program that’s been foisted upon us.

Apparently it’s OK to have a Congress that is so beholden to special interests and political polar extremists that change to said screwball plan is impossible because compromise or actual debate is lost amid soundbites and lobbyist dollars.

Maybe it’s all OK so long as we’re armed and entrenched in our own personal fortresses, watching the NFL and sharing the polar extremism via the Internet. Maybe we’re so entrenched in our personal worlds that we haven’t noticed that the country pretty much has gone to hell, with little civility, little respect for others and a need to outpour grief at the slightest prodding, thus making us feel more human than we’ve become.

Maybe we just want to be left alone until somebody gores our particular ox, then we become little Armies of One, stamping our feet but accomplishing little.

So long as there are the Kardashians and Duck Dynasty and pro sports, just yawn and scratch and move on with your day.

Bread and circuses kept the masses happy for a long time during the Roman Empire, after all.

 
 

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