Protest and the Cost of Forgotten Lessons

For those around in the 1960s, American cities aflame with outrage, tear gas and National Guard troops are nothing new. While police brutality struck many of those matches, the fuel was and is injustice.

Anti-war demonstration at New Mexico State University, October 1971. © William P. Diven.
A peaceful anti-war protest at New Mexico State University in October 1971 contributed to a national movement but drew neither police nor tear gas. Nearly 50 years later, a new movement fills the streets. © William P. Diven. (Click to enlarge)

When we bestow justice on the chosen while inflicting daily indignities from petty to fatal on the others, cities become perpetually burning coal seams with heat spreading underground until fire breaches the surface. Police assume the role of society’s firefighters, caught in the middle with their own issues but mostly just a tool that resolves nothing.

Among the painful lessons from the ’60s conveniently forgotten by people with motives of their own are the personal, societal and deadly costs of war as politics, presidents’ false narratives, touting law and order while committing crimes, ignoring sworn oaths of office, weaponizing religion and treating peaceful people as an enemy to be crushed. As new generations learn these hard lessons, perhaps this time they’ll stick. If they don’t, they will be repeated.

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1 thought on “Protest and the Cost of Forgotten Lessons

  1. Bill – thanks for this elegant reminder that those eternally smoldering coal seams which exist in a diverse society, are ignored at everyone’s peril. Incisive, like every news article you write.

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