As we took the Red Line back from the protest, I continued to have mixed feelings about it. I thought that the rally especially had been too disorganized and too angry. I thought that Salek was making fun of me when he said that a protest wasn’t the same thing as an academic forum (He later told me that he wasn’t). A rally isn’t meant to convince people of anything, he said, but to get people who were already convinced energized. He said that there wasn’t enough time during the rally for all those with important issues to completely clarify their positions subtlety. There had been forums and discussions earlier in the week for that.
I then became nostalgic for a time that I had never lived in. I thought of protests from the ’60s and ’70s that I’d heard about. Protesters were convincing because they made their cases by showing their humanity rather than their anger. But this is a different kind of protest, Salek said. There was a wider variety of problems on the table. Part of the point was to just make people aware of the diversity of the issues and stake, and, yes, to give people a place to (peacefully) channel their anger. That’s how a movement can gain its momentum.