Thursday, June 14, 2012

No Such Thing as Bad PR (Protest Category)?

I see that it is now students' turn to seize defeat from the jaws of victory.  Just as we see a spate of articles outside of Canada that, more or less, gullibly swallow the student line on things, the student protestors start indicating their contempt for the cops by, well, Nazi-saluting them.  Holy bad photo op, Batman!
CP/Peter McCabe
From the National Post

Sure, they are trying to be snarky and sarcastic and are not really indicating that they are Nazis or prefer fascism.  They are trying to do the opposite.  I get that.  But it does look really bad on TV and in newspapers.  It allows folks to take offense, as they are wont to do when Nazis are invoked.

To be abundantly clear, there are damn few parallels between Maple Spring and the uprisings around the world that have Spring in their name.  This is not Prague Spring, where the Czechoslovaks sought to democratize in the face of Soviet tanks in 1968.  This is not Arab Spring, where folks protested against dictatorship.  This is a year where we actually had a spring in Montreal--nice weather, that is.  Yes, the riot police have targeted some bystanders, but compared to other outbreaks of dissent, the level of repression, even in Bill 78, is modest.

So, likening the Montreal police to the Nazis just makes the students look like they are the ones that are out of touch, that they are the ones who have lost perspective, that they are the ones who need to re-think.  Indeed, even the leader, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, of the more extreme group, CLASSE, has disavowed this even as he was slow/reluctant to disavow the violence of the spring (smoke bombs in the metros, vandalism, violating injunctions).  Perhaps he knows his PR better than he knows what civil disobedience really is (emphasis on the civil). 

I am not really offended by the outbreak of Nazi-esque salutes.  I am not surprised.  As this goes on and on, the organizations involved on all sides have more opportunities both to make bad decisions and to lose control of their supporters/agents.  On the other hand, I am offended by folks who buy into the rhetoric too easily.  Maple Spring, my ass!

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