Thursday, November 22, 2007

E. Ethelbert Miller Says, Wear A Suit

Over at his blog E-Notes, Miller writes:
If you're going to throw rocks at the government, you'd better dress up for the occasion. That's the take-away point from the media coverage of the protests in Pakistan. Splashed across the front page of newspapers last week was a picture of a Pakistani lawyer in a suit launching a projectile at the police. The photo editors couldn't resist showcasing such a delicious juxtaposition of law and disorder.

The coverage in The Washington Post was particularly revealing, though not in the ways intended. In his attempt to deconstruct the image of the lawyer-protestor, for instance, Philip Kennicott succeeded only in displaying his own class prejudices. "Men in suits don't throw things," he writes. "If they confront police, they do it politely, in letters, in words spoken softly, reasonably, between reasonable men."

Excuse me? Men in suits throw things all the time. The suits in the U.S. government, for instance, throw bombs at other countries. But alas, we have no pictures of these government officials breaking laws by signing orders to wage war, promote regime change, or stoke revolution. The truth is, men in suits are just as unreasonable, impolite, and confrontational as your average anti-war protestor—or more so. They simply don't do it in the streets.

The anti-war and anti-globalization movements should take note. Forget pink. Forget Bread and Puppet. Forget peace signs, catchy slogans, Zapatista ski masks, and sensible protest wear. If we want to get media coverage and strike fear in the heart of Washington, we should come out for the next demonstration, all 500,000 of us, in our best interview suits.