Civil Disobedience Lite

The way the news reports it, you would think that the participants in “Moral Monday” were moral crusaders. And indeed, the participants and organizers of “Moral Monday” certainly encourage that perception. Writing in the Guardian, William Barber compared his merry band of lawbreakers – disproportionately comprised of old, white liberals – to Mahatma Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Arrested UNC history professor Jacquelyn Dowd Hall agreed: “There are many analogies to what happened during the Civil Rights movement.” And in one particularly nauseating account, Jedediah Purdy compares himself to Henry David Thoreau, a “militant watchman of his own authority.”

These comparisons do great violence to the memories of those activists. Ghandi marched 240 miles on footto protest British policies in India. Martin Luther King faced down fire hoses, bombings, and police dogs in Birmingham. Henry David Thoreau was furious when friends bailed him out of jail, believing that prison time was a crucial part of triggering reform.

And then you have this:

“They got us processed in about two hours,” [NC NAACP Vice President Carolyn] Coleman said Thursday. “Which is good, because I had a church meeting to get to in Greensboro.”

And this:

“[Duke professor William] Chafe referred to his short incarceration as a ‘great time’ that allowed the protesters to make new friendships and have wide-ranging conversations. Additionally, the protesters all sang together throughout their eight to 10-hour stays in prison.”

And this:

“When they  came to arrest me, I handed my big umbrella to one of the capitol policemen as if he were my valet…In the photos, I guess I look enough like a prisoner if you know the context, but I could also be a colonial administrator strolling, hands clasped behind his back, flanked by his batmen.”

At a certain point, you have to wonder what kind of fantasy world these people live in to compare themselves to King, Thoreau, and Ghandi. The truth is that Moral Monday protesters are undercutting the democratic process, costing taxpayers a boatload of money, and clogging an already overloaded criminal justice system.

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