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Code Pink is all about the green
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Code Pink is all about the green

The Code Pink protesters who had the gall to actually threaten one of the most esteemed and respected dignitaries in our nation’s history are a great example why modern protest movements almost universally fail, and why we need a renewed focus on civics education across the country.

Organized protest movements are a civic art, and have — within the span of a very few decades — achieved some of the greatest advances in human history. Unfortunately, modern protesters are not simply ineffective; for the most part they succeed only in damaging their cause. Why?

A lot has to do with the fact that these kids know almost nothing at all about our government, our history, or how to make use of civil institutions to effect change. As a result, they are nothing more than disposable pawns thrown unprepared onto the field of battle by their political masters. The abrasive jerks waving handcuffs in the face of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on Thursday might well go to jail. But the paid political operatives who told them what to do aren’t going to be joining them. They’re just gonna raise some more cash, find some more dupes, and hit “repeat” on the play list. Why?

Real societal activism takes work. It takes time. It takes persuasion, knowledge, and understanding. It does not happen overnight because you torch a store, close a freeway or turn Central Park into Woodstock. It does not happen because you chain yourselves together in a room and block a hearing. And it most certainly does not happen because you threaten a 91-year-old man, especially when that man is one of the most respected dignitaries and diplomats of his time.

The people behind the scenes directing these so-called modern day “activists” know that perfectly well. Unfortunately for their pawns and society at large, the political masters sending these kids out for the sole purpose of being obnoxious don’t actually want change. Sound crazy? Welcome to my world.

“Wait!” you say, “Why would Code Pink not actually want to end war?”

Sadly, it’s because, if they did, their funding would disappear, and in the world of political operations causes are a lot less causative than cash. Solve a problem and your donors are going to move on to something else. So instead of trying to effect change, the political masters behind these movements are mostly focused doing things they can turn into effective fundraisers.

In the coming days Code Pink will be passing around emails with photos of their pawns being hauled out of the committee hearings. They’ll scream about the evil warmongers while they pass the hat, and when they’ve bled this incident dry they’ll move on to ginning up the next created controversy they hope to hang their hat on.

That’s not the kind of activism that will ever change anything, but obviously it’s not meant to. Unfortunately, Code Pink is far from alone on this sordid field. Almost every so-called protest movement in the last few years has been nothing more than a vehicle for politicos to prey on the populace.

Want to end U.S. predilection for foreign interventions? Reform our legal system? Save a whale? You have to start by going door to door to meeting rooms and living rooms across the country. You have to convince “We the People” and the politicians will follow. That takes work and time. It’s not very profitable. Our civic history shows that it’s also effective. But until the protestors we see on TV from time to time know enough to demand better, they’re going to continue to be nothing more than disgraceful props in a rigged game.

Sam Stone is a Republican political consultant in Southern Arizona.

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