Recently we've had some Tamil protests against the civil war in Sri Lanka here in Toronto. About a week or so ago, the protesters shut down parts of a major city thoroughfare, University Ave, outside the US consulate for a few days demanding that the US and Canadian governments do something to stop the killing of innocent Tamil civilians in the Sr i Lankan civil war which has been going on for ages.
On Sunday another Tamil protest ended in the protesters shutting down the Gardiner expressway one of the main entryways into Toronto for several hours..
Now in all fairness I feel the pain of the protesters but at the same time I truly feel that public protests don't really change anything these days. All they do is anger and upset the public. The age of the sit ins and public flag waving protests is over we need to find a new more effective ways to protest things I think.
Still you can go about your protest and you may educate the public about your issues but there is a line and when you start shutting down highways etc you are not educating just pissing off the public and really doing nothing to gain sympathy for your cause.
What the protesters fail to understand is that protests that affect the public don't really wake us out of our apathy towards anything that doesn't directly affect us, it just generally enrages and angers us. And enraging us is not necessarily a good thing. The Tamil protesters need to realize that most North Americans cant find Sri Lanka on the map and really don't care when people outside of North America are dying. This is the society we live in. I'm not saying that this is a good thing I'm just saying its the truth and the evidence proves it cause if North Americans truly cared Darfur wouldn't still be ongoing and Rwanda would never have happened. We'll wait until after the fact, until the genocides are complete to react with our sorrow and our studies into how and why things got so bad and our if onlys ie if only we had done something sooner. Check the record that's how it goes.
And protests wont change that. What protests that negatively affect the general public do achieve though is a level of angst amongst the populace when they are inconvenienced. It loses you sympathy. It starts folk seeing you as not a part of their civil society and questioning why you are doing this to them when they see themselves as innocent. Then they wonder about your cause and wonder whether if its really a just one cause surely if it was just they assume you wouldn't act that way. That's the logic that the public starts to implement.
Don't get me wrong here. I'm not anti-protest or anti-Tamil or anti anything. I just think that shutting down a highway was a bad move and that protesting on a raised highway is a bit dangerous and a bit lawless especially with the number of old folk and little kids involved. I'm glad no one was injured and I'm happy and somewhat surprised by the restraint shown by our local police in allowing this illegal occupation to persist as long as it did.
At the same time I believe that the Tamil occupation of the Gardiner probably did more harm towards their standing and the sympathy they would receive from the general public and their cause is either destined to be further ignored by the general public or just dismissed as being a general nuisance. Its a fine line between awareness and anger and it only takes so much before the insularities and the bigotry starts to raise its ugly head amongst the general public so realize that.