Where Have All the Protests Gone?





A brief survey of current events:

The stock market has gone nuts, and the federal government is treating Wall Street with experimental cures that will cost nearly $1 trillion. An unpopular foreign war, now in its sixth year, has resulted in more than 4,100 American deaths. For the first time in history, the presidential campaign includes an African American candidate for president and a Republican female candidate for vice president.

Taken together, these data points give this moment in American history a once-in-a-great-while feel of Something Large. But if this is truly a pivot in time, its most peculiar feature may be how un-peculiar it feels. For all the social and political upheaval, for all the 60-point headlines and for all the bipartisan calls for change, there is plenty of unease -- but a very notable lack of unrest.

It's as though the gods of turmoil threw a party and nobody came. When was the last time you saw a street protest? Or a burning effigy? Or a teach-in? Or a boycott? It's kind of odd: We have the sense that this is an emergency, but open the window and give a listen. There aren't any sirens.


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