Kennedy's 'Postcards from
In praise of protest
Jonal entry 981 | Wednesday, May 10 2006
Though I agreed with the main premise of a column by Bob Lonsberry on Tuesday, that state governments should not attempt to abridge the First Amendment freedom of assembly in publicand especially government-ownedplaces, I strongly disagreed with one of his set-up premises. Conservatives do not protest, he maintains, and elaborates: "Protests are typically for people who donít bathe, donít groom or who belong to a union. Protests are for people who hate about everything I believe in. So, no, we conservatives donít like protests."
I haven't been in an organized specifically conservative protest for almost 40 years, but I used to participate in conservative protests whenever the opportunity arose. Even in the past 40 years I've sat at an information table on campus, disseminating antiabortion literature and offering discussion, which I consider in at least a mild sense a form of protest. It's protesting the culture of death that is the offspring of the liberal crusade to sexualize our culture as broadly and deeply as it can. It's a counter protest against the secular humanist protest against the family and its sanctity.
When I was managing editor of the Christian Beacon in the mid-1960s I frequently attended picket-sign-carrying protests against things we conservative Christians opposed. One of my favorites was the honoring of Communist Russian Orthodox clergy, who we knew then and the Russian Orthodox themselves now acknowledge were agents of the Soviet Secret Police (KGB), as honored guests of left-wing American organizations. I loved taking every opportunity to let people know the Communist conspiracy was an empire of evil and show my solidarity with its victims.
We also, in those days, carried signs outside liberal denominational conclaves that were in the process of dismantling the historic confessions and creeds of the churches, and I was an editor of daily newspapers put out at one such conclave, working all night to put out a paper that was handed out to delegates to the assembly near the doors of their convention center. I believe in the free exchange of ideas, and I believe in demonstratingthrough public protestthe courage of my convictions.
I've never protested the "right" of anyone to hold any belief or act upon his or her convictions. The purpose of the demonstration is to do the best we can to let people know there's an alternative point of view and, especially when the media are arrayed against that alternative, someone is standing for it even when it's not popular. I'd never support coercion or violence to enforce anything I believe in, but I hope I'd never be cowed away from making my stand because it's not popular or the in thing.
As I write this, I recall that it hasn't been nearly 40 yearsless than 20, in factsince I last joined a public demonstration against abortion and for the right of the unborn for life by carrying a sign on a sidewalk on one of the main boulevards in San Jose. I still have the signAbortion Kills Childrentacked up on the wall of my bedroom. I walked that line in several successive years when prolife forces in our city got together. There were several hundred demonstrators each time, coming from churches in various areas around the city, and we were viciously attacked in verbal assaults from passengers in passing cars, but that was part of the point. We were making people think.
I don't recall any instances of manning a prolife table on a campus since leaving the University of California in Santa Barbara in 1972, but I've never forgotten the words of one of my fellow protesters in that endeavor. My friend Mike Engler, or maybe it was his brother Dan Engler, had concluded that every demonstration for life has the potential of saving a life. Even if the woman may not acknowledge noticing the people behind the table, there's always the possibility that some such woman will be stirred by knowing someone cares enough for unborn children to be there, and so may decide to save rather than sacrifice the baby beneath her "unwanted pregnancy."
And come to think of it...our Lord most likely went without bathing and getting groomed during his forty days fast in the desert, protesting the works and the powers of the evil one.