Protests Do Work

Abraham Lincoln was born 194 years ago today. Known as “Old Abe,” he was only 56 when he died. Lincoln is one of the most popular figures in history. He had many difficult decisions to make. He didn’t always make the right ones–consider his early mistakes trying to find a general to lead his armies.

But one thing he had that we need is his sense of an utter dependence on God and a need to repent of our personal and national sins. Lincoln saw the Civil War as a punishment for sins of greed and slavery. He feared blood had to be spilt on the battlefield to expiate for the blood drawn by the lash of slavery.

His is a lesson for our time. With all the blood being spilt in abortion it is only a matter of time until America will be called to pay the penalty for child killing. We pray that we will repent and reform before that happens. Lincoln was prophetic. We should heed his words as we celebrate his 194th birthday.

Does Protesting Blasphemy Backfire?

Whenever we go out to protest a grave injustice, as we did Sunday at St. Sabina, someone usually tries to throw cold water on our effort by saying protests only bring more attention to the event, are welcomed by the group we’re protesting , and are a waste of time. This is a concern, and sometimes we decide against a protest and we only make calls or send cards instead.

Protests do bring attention to an event and sometimes gain sympathy for the enemy. Should we, for instance, protest at Notre Dame when they show the filthy play on campus again in March? We hear that Loyola in Chicago is presenting the same trash. Protest?

The Effectiveness of Protest

The occasional decisions not to protest in no way diminish our conviction that the protest is a powerful tool and often the only effective way to embarrass, teach, exonerate and convert the target of our protest. We have just read an excellent article in defense of protest in the current issue of Crusade magazine published by the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, edited by C. Preston Noell: the cover story by John Horvat, “Are Protests Against Blasphemy Effective?”

The article features TFP’s James Miller who attended a meeting of the American Association of Museums in Dallas, Texas, where more than 5,000 professionals discussed the effectiveness of TFP protests against sacrilegious art displayed in their galleries and museums. Attendees were told to accept the fact that they cannot win against these protests. They can only survive these protests, which show the galleries’ vulnerability.

Gallery personnel admitted their own feelings of helpless to explain to the public why they show blasphemous art. They complained that prayerful protests portray to the public that the protesters have the good arguments, while the museum professionals can only defend their freedom to show anything they wish, arguments that are unconvincing even to themselves. And the press, while always supportive of the blasphemous art, often unwittingly portray the protesters as being more sincere and reasonable than those who present the sacrilegious art.

Protest Works in the Long Run

Of course TFP knows how to conduct professional protests and combine their colorful, orderly appearances with thousands of cards and letters to the targeted agency. One gallery got 65,000 postcards. Due to these protests some exhibits have been canceled, artists have pulled out, plans have been changed.

Horvat says the local bishop joining the protest, at least verbally, greatly helps their protesters. While museum management was told to hire the best PR available, they were warned that there will still be long term negative consequences following protests, such as more nervous artists, disassociation of public figures from the museum, self censorship, and rifts within the local art community. Even though sacrilegious art will continue to be displayed, the protests will also continue and will eventually have a lasting effect.

These arguments can be applied to most of our protests also. When we were at St. Sabina’s last Sunday at the preaching of Al Sharpton during mass, our appearance became an important part of the otherwise routine event. Nobody could ignore it: Fr. Pfleger, Al Sharpton, the media. And we distributed hundreds of pro-life flyers. Counterproductive? Give me a break.

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