I saw what might have been one of the most awesome political science moments of my life the other day (please bear with me while I geek out here): an actual, 100 percent legitimate protest. The only problem was … I was in Paris.
It seems some Parisians were angry about the treatment of Algerians, because the French government apparently acted racist in its treatment and protection of Algerian people.
As I have no clue as to the political climate in France these days, they may have been right. Then again, they may have been completely bonkers. It really doesn't matter.
What matters is this: these people were right outside the National Assembly of France. And they were loud. With signs. And what seemed like a violent demeanor. These were the real deal protesters, and they didn't seem to care very much that there were a bunch of "gendarmes" - members of the national police force - with assault rifles eying them suspiciously from across the street. These people had a purpose.
It reminded me of the last protest I saw in America. Oh, wait, it didn't remind me of anything because I've never seen a protest in America. I've seen videos of the race riots, but frankly, those aren't really protests. I've heard tell of the peace rallies over Vietnam, which many people seem to enjoy likening to Iraq, but I haven't seen any peace rallies lately.
What I usually see in America is people complaining, not too loudly or too vehemently, about neutral topics like: "The government spending too much," "Taxes being too high" or, my personal favorite, "Why don't they do anything about the bums in the street?"
I mean, really, we hardly ever do anything. We're content to just sit around, watching one government start two wars and not finish either of them, followed by the ushering in of what seems to be the most economic trouble we've seen since the Great Depression. This administration leaves then, followed by another government that, it's usually agreed upon, has already spent about a trillion more dollars on useless initiatives than it should have.
Are there protests? No. Should there be protests? Probably. We should consider how much money a trillion dollars actually is. The most expensive car on Earth, the Bugatti Veyron, comes in at $1,700,000. You could buy 588,235 Bugatti Veyrons for a trillion dollars. You could feed Africa for a decade. Hell, you could buy the Hope diamond and blow it up with fifty tons of C-4 explosive if that's what you consider a good time. And you'd still have money left over for a pound of caviar and a bottle of Cristal to wash it down.
But do we protest? No, we simply complain. We say to the pundit man on TV, "Yeah, you're right. You're a filthy, lying gasbag who'll say anything to make a buck, but you're right. This country is going down the suckhole." Then we open another beer, turn "House" on and get on with our lives.
At the same time, there're 20 people in France standing outside the National Assembly protesting what seems (to me) to be a relatively minor (compared to a trillion dollars) infraction. The gendarmes are ready to shoot them and they don't care because, by God, they need to be heard.
I say we follow their example, pick up some signs, limber up our vocal chords and tell the government just exactly what we think.