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Times a changin'? Why America is ripe for protest in 2018

28 0 4
25.04.2018

She was the face of mass protest, but long ago lost her faith in protesting.

Then, last year, hundreds of thousands of women set out to march on Washington, and Jan Rose Kasmir knew she had to join them.

"When Trump was elected president, I couldn't not participate. ... It seemed like the only way to get my voice out there," said Kasmir, 68, who was 17 when a photographer snapped a now-iconic image of her offering a chrysanthemum to National Guardsmen during a 1967 protest against the Vietnam War.

Kasmir gave up protesting when public opposition failed to stop the Iraq War in 2003. But after the 2017 Women's March, she returned to the lines this spring to rally for gun control near her home in Hilton Head, South Carolina, joining a series of recent protests by millions of Americans demanding change.

"I think we've reached a tipping point," Kasmir said.

There's something happening here. But what is it, exactly, and why now?

More than five decades after Americans poured into the streets to demand civil rights and the end to a deeply unpopular war, thousands are embracing a culture of resistance unlike anything since.

In a country founded on the right to speak out against authority, every generation has hosted protests, from the watchfires set by women pushing for the power to vote a century ago to the Tea Party rallies shortly after the 2008 election. But the past year or two have seen a near-simultaneous explosion in activism around disparate causes.

NFL players have taken a knee during the national anthem. Teachers have packed statehouses to demand raises. Activists proclaiming "#MeToo," have called out those who used their power to abuse them. High school students have walked out of classrooms nationwide to send an ultimatum to those who insist society needs more guns.

One of every five Americans has joined a protest or a political rally since the start of 2016, a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Washington Post found. Many more are Democrats than Republicans, with about a fifth telling pollsters they had never participated in a protest before.

Protests are "what America is all about. But this is bigger and more volatile" than in the recent past, said David S. Meyer, a professor at the University of California, Irvine and author of "The Politics of Protest: Social Movements in America."

"We're in a moment where people are frustrated with institutional politics and where people see urgent issues that need addressing and for a moment they believe that........

© Japan Today