The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America


Social Movements: Strategies and Tactics

Submitted by Jim Aune on January 31, 2011 - 9:00pm

Few things make me feel like using 2nd Amendment remedies than this Koch Brothers retreat, but I think that Conor Friedersdorf has a point: "Does standing across the street shouting at the luxury resort where the Kochs are staying help change the laws that govern campaign finance and political donations? Does it accomplish anything?" Cue the late (and true gentleman) Richard Gregg on the "ego-function of radical protest," but it would take something of Egypt-like proportions to get me out on the street. Thoughts?

Submitted by Adria on February 1, 2011 - 9:44pm.

Well, Jim, you know I think there's a time and a place for everything and every strategy. I think it's important to recognize that social movements, to be successful, have to either use an array of strategies or be flanked by another movement.

My first year at UT, I was hit with this "ego function" article (again) when I protested the presence of KKK members. What was the point? These types of things simple serve an ego function for the protestors. They don't accomplish much else.

I think Gregg's piece, which is beautiful, is troublesome. OF COURSE there is an ego function of radical protest. Is there a part of negotiating public policy and human rights that does NOT involve ego function? For example, do the politicians on television NOT engage in ego function?

What's important to me about Gregg's article is that ego function can be a positive means of building a movement to exert pressure in the streets. But ego function is not the only part of radical protest.

Look what happened in San Diego with the alternative NCA conference. We stood on the other side of the street and people still ask me what that accomplished. From our QJS forum...

By February 2009, just some of the groups that had moved their conventions from the Manchester Hyatt were the American Association of Law Schools, the San Diego County Pension Fund, the San Diego Association of Realtors, California Nurses Association and the International Foundation of Employee Benefits (as cited in J. Hipps, 2009). To date, the boycott has cost the hotel over $7 million in lost future business with groups and organizations who have cancelled their events in order to stand with LGBTQ equality and justice for hotel workers. Most recently, the American Association of Justice (formally the American Association of Trial Lawyers, with a membership of 2000) moved its convention away from the Manchester Hyatt, indeed, away from California, because of Proposition 8 and Manchester’s support for it. In addition, the CA State Bar moved its swearing-in ceremony from the Manchester to the nearby Marriott Hotel.
As the American Association for Justice moved their convention to honor the boycott, Manchester’s chief financial officer was purported to have written an e-mail in which he suggested that “Manchester make an offsetting donation to the campaign against Proposition 8, anything to avoid alienating the ‘large and very affluent’ gay and lesbian market.” Manchester will give "$25,000 to a national organization that promotes civil unions and domestic partnerships, and considering offering $100,000 in hotel credit to local gay and lesbian organizations so they can use the Grand Hyatt for events such as fundraisers” (Stetz, 2009). In other words, the boycott has prompted Manchester to give pro-GLBTQ organizations what he had given in support of Proposition 8—$125,000—and counting.

So yeah, standing on the side of the street does do something.

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