Dissent is a Marathon . . . Not a Sprint



210 w 34th St. ny ny 10119

Neighborhood: Midtown

The revered pugilist/philosopher Iron Mike Tyson once mused: “Everyone has a plan until they get hit.” And get hit everyone will. Case in point: Many of the Anybody-But-Bush (ABB) protesters who took to the streets of the Big Apple during the Republican National Convention in August 2004. I don’t just mean blows suffered at the hands of an over-eager policeman; I’m talking about the slings and arrows of activism as a life choice.

At the time, I wrote an article that questioned the strategy of only protesting the Republicans when the Democrats are barely distinguishable. I asked: “Where was the planned-for-months-in-advance outrage in Boston last month? The Hitler mustaches? The warnings about fascism? The cataloging of candidate crimes?” I also pondered the efficacy of “anti-authority types submitting to New York’s demands for polite opposition restricted to a pre-determined venue.” I summed up, calling this the “Michael McMoore era of dissent” and declared I would skip town during the RNC (I did spend two days at my in-laws’ house on Long Island but was back home in Astoria for at least half the convention.).

The result of my stance was a predictable mélange of misinterpretation by design, overreaction, and personal attack. Most interesting was the righteousness. Individuals much younger than I essentially branded me a traitor and scoffed at my absence. My commitment and activist “credentials” were being seriously questioned . . . as it were. Fine. I’ve heard much worse and my skin is NYC-thick.

Yet, although I’m aware how sincere and dedicated many of the demonstrators were, I kept hearing a line from The Clash over and over in my head:

“I believe in this and it’s been tested by research: He who fucks nuns will later join the church”

Even in the face of urgent issues, dissent is a marathon…not a sprint. Activism is not about hating one man or even one party . . . it is holistic.

Twenty-somethings making clever Dick and Bush jokes may cultivate a more nuanced understanding of the “system” but, sadly, many will lose faith and focus . . . many will embrace compromise and denial.

What do my youthful critics know of my choices and sacrifices? Sure, I’m not digging ditches in Myanmar and I have no desire to overstate my meager hardships, but how many of those who paraded through Manhattan for a few hours on a Sunday will stay the course, evolve, and maintain an open mind over the next few decades . . . when, as Tyson warns, they get hit? How many will stick to the plan?

Reality: Carrying a sign when you’re 21 rarely translates to remaining steadfast into your 40s . . . and beyond.

Rate Story
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

§ Leave a Reply

Other Stories You May Like

Nearby Midtown Stories

Hard Month


The Cosmetics Plus at 57th and Broadway is having a clearance sale. They’re going out of business. I buy two [...]

National Tartan Day in New York


Dressed to Kilt

The New Man of Perry Ellis


A pent-up demand for sensuality rather than roaring sex appeal.

Bet on Crazy


The preamble to Peter Nolan Smith’s memoir of working in the Diamond District.

The Funny Company


In 1964, Morty Gunty was a two-bit comedian with a TV show.