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News :: Organizing
Protest and Resistance
by Julius Lester (reprised)
28 Aug 2004
To protest is to speak out against, to let it be known that you do not like a certain action of another.
To protest is an act of intellectual commitment. It is to say, “Sir, I protest” when you are slapped in the face…
To protest is to play a game. You go to a demonstration, listen to speeches, wave signs, and go home to see if you got on television.
There are many toys in the game of protest.
There is a picket line. Originally a picket line was formed by striking workers to keep strikebreakers out. If anyone tried to cross that picket line, the strikers tried to kill him. Today you get a permit from the police to picket…
There is no protest if permission must be sought and rules abided by. WE have allowed the form that our protest takes to be defined for us by those we protest against. Thus, our protest is drained of its power because we do not have the power to make our protest effective.
We think that the war [against terror] is being waged only against the [Iraqis and the Afghanis], but we are its victims, too. It is our own deaths we protest, but we haven’t realized it. It is not a war against [“terror.”] It is a war against us and the little humanity we have remaining. Too little humanity, because we are no longer outraged at what is being done to us.
If we were, we would resist.
To resist is to say No! without qualification or explanation.
To resist is to not only say I Won’t Go. It is to say, I’ll make sure nobody else goes either.
To resist is to pit Life as you define it against Life as they define it and do all that is necessary to see that their definition is destroyed in all of its parts.
To resist is not to go to jail when sentenced, but only when caught and surrounded and there is no other choice but death.
To resist is to make the President afraid to leave the White House because he will be spat upon wherever he goes to tell his lies, because his limousine will find the street filled with tacks and thousands of people who will surge around it, smashing the windows and rocking the car until it is turned on its side.
Have we forgotten? The man is a murderer.
It is us he is killing.
To resist is to realize that your own life is at stake this very moment,
To resist is to become alive, truly alive for the first time. It is to say not only will I not accept what you are doing, I will stop you from doing it. No one shall sleep peacefully again until you cease, desist, and abdicate.
To protest is to dislike the inhumanity of another.
To resist is to stop inhumanity and affirm your own humanity.
One does not protest murder.
One apprehends the murderer and deals with him accordingly.
First published without [edits] in the Vietnam Summer News, Cambridge, Mass. August 4, 1967
This work is in the public domain