When Protesting Muddies the Message

By Mark Antony Rossi

As my country, the United States, is engulfed in meaningful protests against discrimination it is also swamped with meaningless protests some organized by groups with agendas not meant to help the public discourse on the subject of equal treatment under the law. But the biggest problem facing any form of protest is how it is deployed. Take for example the kneeling controversy started by NFL football players. At the end of the day by rolling it out while the American Flag was being presented it appeared to be disrespectful instead of a legitimate social admonishment of police brutality.

We are constantly reminded that perception is reality. As a military combat veteran I am displeased on how the kneeling was used. It ultimately muddied the message about police brutality and became a story about angry athletes uncaring about how others saw their actions. This was the fault of well-meaning people but regardless of intent how must consider how we present an important message to a community because it makes all the difference in the world. Yes, even in the world outside of America.

We are now faced with the very same situation again. Police brutality. Ugly racism. And are we having a civil national discussion on how to better reform police departments. Better education the population of the utter idiocy of racism. No. That message was lost a few hours after looting, burning and the usual exploitative media coverage got a hold of another tragedy. I am left home continually educating my two sons about racism, police protection and the serious consequences of unethical practices and immoral thinking. I do this as a loving parent but I also do this because I cannot count on a media who are willing to bring honest journalism to this matter. I do this because I live in a country where fifty years after I was born it still cannot have an intelligent discussion on what respect means, how to act like an adult, the sacred duty of a peace officer, the shared religious and social bonds existing between blacks, whites and other cultures within the democratic framework.

We have all the tools to fix this situation. But we keep getting distracted from the real issues by injecting a new element of anger, misdirection or plain meanness instead of tackling what is apparent. There has been social progress on this issue since the 1960’s but it was mostly legislative and I truly think that on a personal, neighborhood level that never seeped down deep enough in our society. There are laws. There is common sense. There is right and wrong. But there has always been fear and mistrust. Let’s work on those instead of adding more layers.

About the Author: Mark Antony Rossi is a poet, playwright and author of the bioethics volume “Dark Tech” now available from Amazon. His most recent plays have been produced in Liverpool and New York. He also hosts a podcast called Strength to be Human. 



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