Risk-free rebellion by BART protesters
|Book him, Danno|
The Chronicle's Debra Saunders does a good job of deconstructing the juvenile political ethos of the folks who recently disrupted BART service---a system that carries more than 370,000 passengers every weekday---by indulging in civil disobedience and then objecting to being penalized (Don’t inconvenience BART’s Black Friday 14):
Apparently “Black Lives Matter” activists believe they should be able to break the law and not face criminal charges. They think they have a right to trample on the rights of others — the right to use public transportation to go home, get to work, visit friends or go shopping...How do these activists expect others to take them seriously? They laud themselves for engaging in civil disobedience — then demand special treatment that shields them from consequences. It never seems to occur to them that if they don’t want to go to jail, then they should stick to lawful peaceful protest. They see themselves as freedom fighters — as though they are courageous individuals braving a ruthless power structure bent on oppressing them.
Unfortunately, we have to take their actions seriously, though not their goofy rationalizations, since a few people can screw up the area's vulnerable transportation system for thousands of people. It's pathetic that the BART board is rolling over for these crackpots.
Saunders quotes one of the Black Friday 14: “Many people were inconvenienced by the Montgomery bus boycotts. Do you think Rosa Parks should pay restitution for that?”
Local leftists have long had an exaggerated sense of their own importance. Recall that Critical Mass in San Francisco has been compared to the civil rights movement, also by invoking Rosa Parks:
The early Critical Mass rides embraced the idea that sometimes you have to live your vision by taking direct, and often illegal, action. Rosa Parks proclaimed by a simple illegal act that she was unwilling to live in a society that relegated her to second-class status. Nearly 40 years later, on September 25, 1992, 48 brazen cyclists decided they too were going to ride in the front of the bus.
The civil disobedience by Parks---refusing to give her seat to a white person and move to the back of the bus---was about a specific issue: how the Montgomery, Alabama, bus system discriminated against black people. Her civil disobedience resulted in the end of that discrimination.
There's nothing comparable that BART could do to satisfy these activists. Saunders cites their ludicrous "demands": that, of course, the BART board drop criminal charges against them; that the BART police force dissolve itself; and that the BART board provide cheap fares for low-income riders.
Several years ago there was another protest that disrupted BART:
After BART said it shut off the cell phone antennas in some BART stations Thursday evening, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation rushed to use BART's action to further their own causes. The attorneys fell over themselves to get on camera and be quoted. They made ludicrous comparisons of BART's cell phone stoppage to the Mubarak regime in Egypt and other "repressive" regimes throughout the world.
Back in 2005, Beyond Chron invoked Rosa Parks to justify an abortive fare strike to protest a 25 cent raise in the Muni fare:
In 1955, Rosa Parks made history by refusing to sit in the back of the bus. Today, San Francisco Muni riders are making history by demanding the right to stay on the bus. If not now, when? ("Muni to SF: Pay More, Wait Longer, Keep Quiet," Marc Norton, BeyondChron).
And prog SF martyr Josh Wolf thinks the Feds didn't bust him for withholding evidence of a crime from a grand jury. Instead, you understand, he was such a threat to the state that he was the victim of a "witch hunt" by the Bush Administration:
No, this case is not about a videotape and it's not about justice. This entire matter is about eroding the rights of privacy and those of a free press. It is about identifying civil dissidents and using members of the news media to actively assist in what is essentially an anarchist witch hunt.
This is symptomatic of what's called risk-free rebellion that also seems to be a self-esteem exercise.
See also White Punks in Black.
[Later: of course Tim Redmond thinks the BART activists should face no consequences for jamming up the system. Being a "progressive" means never having to say you're guilty of anything.]