Opinion Entry 6/7/2020

Differences in protesting in other Countries

*Disclaimer: If politics or views not in favor of Donald Trump upset you, it may be wise to skip this opinion article

With the United States continuing to see mass protesting across the country, one cannot help but examine how they measure up to other governments’ reception to their own protests. Being a U.S. Citizen from birth, my knowledge has been absolutely hindered about how other countries govern their own idea of free speech. Naturally, I reached out to those close to me for their opinions on the matter. My Fiance and her family are half Iranian, they have taught me so much about the middle east and Asia.

My soon to be brother in law was born relatively close to a border between Iran and Iraq, in a city called, Dezful. From the stories he has shared with me, he grew up in war times, and talked about how normalized the sounds of war had become in his home city. We’ve often found ourselves having conversations about the differences between Iranian and American culture, especially in terms of governments. After all of these talks with him and my fiance, I have come to realize how little the U.S. actually teaches its youth about the Middle East and Asia.

So, how do our protests in the U.S. compare to protests in say, Tehran? The most obvious difference, real bullets instead of rubber bullets. Tear gas is fairly universal, but there is a stark contrast between an religious authoritarian government versus a supposed democratic republic. The main point being, an authoritarian government has to put down certain forms of free speech with an iron fist, or risk losing control. The U.S. on the other hand is supposed to allow almost all forms of speech, and it is more or less controlled by social norms or some type of covert influences.

Which brings us to today, Donald Trump has stirred up many conversations about how he is acting like an authoritarian leader. Completely denying acts of brutality against peaceful protesters of Lafayette Plaza, even though there are videos from civilians and reporters showing the chaos that ensued, just so the president could try and sell some religious propaganda to keep evangelists happy. This has some similarities to presidents of Iran according to my brother in law. Iran was at one point fairly democratic, it wasn’t until the religious coup that overthrew the Shah that the country become more strict. He explained that there have been presidents that were obviously non-religious, or at least casual about it, but would play a part to appear more religious so they can keep the support of a major group of people.

How many federal officials elected in the United States have openly ran as an atheist or a religious minority, and actually won that position? None that I can currently think of. I am sure there are some that either do not come out and state their religious views, or parts of the media just don’t show it. The United States government is vastly run by Christians or people pretending to be Christian. So is there much of a difference between the religious regime in Iran, versus the federal government? Yes there is, but it may not be as different as some may like to believe. Iran for one, has to be in support of Islam, while America pretends/is more open about religious minorities in government.

Religion aside, how do our protests compare to say China? Well if we look at the 1989 Tiananmen square protests, the government actively killed protesters, and it is arguable as to whether or not the protests had a significant impact on change, at least in terms of the government. The Chinese government attempted to manipulate media and reports of the protests, obviously here in America there was a considerable amount of reporting done on the situation in 89′. There are some similarities here between the Chinese government and Donald Trump in the context of trying to reshape the journalistic landscape on how the protesters were behaving and the response to the protests. The underlying distinction between Trump and the Chinese Government, is that China’s government is actually organized and have more control in what information spreads inside and outside of their country.

In the U.S. we have a right to protest and thankfully for the most part the government allows it to happen. Many officials have condemned Trump’s insatiable lust for violence and misconduct, even ex-military have spoken out. If the government and military no longer allowed civilians to protest we would be in even more trouble. This being said, I am not trying to defend any misconduct acted out by the police, rioters, or protesters, but I am rather trying to state my personal appreciation for our right to protest peacefully. The world would be a much better place if we could all sit down calmly and discuss social issues that plague our societies, and hear each other out. We must not stifle others’ voices when they have differing opinions, the only time free speech should be questioned, is when it is used to incite hatred, discourse, and violence. This ideal is easier said than done. As humans, with varying perspectives, it would be ideal if the lines on what is right and wrong to say were clear, but unfortunately the world does not work that way.

There are likely multitudes more differences between protests in the U.S. and other countries. One thing I forgot to mention was the fact that American’s have the right to own guns, while the only people I observed that had guns at the protests were those against the BLM protests. Clearly the latest string of protests have supported a resurgence of racial equality in the U.S and in some other countries. I am curious and hopeful to see what changes lay in the future that people have been working to achieve for decades.

I have come to find that this subject is tricky to write about, especially in a way that can reach people from various sides. The black community has been massively mistreated by the country for at least as long as slavery was first introduced. I by no means support racial inequity.

-Thoughts of a Writing Freak

Articles/Opinion Politics

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