The megaload debate changed rapidly this week…
For a while, we were talking about the big rigs: if they were safe to travel over Eastern Oregon’s notoriously dangerous winter roads and if local citizens had been given the opportunity to voice their feelings on the matter.
Then came Sunday night, when a group of protesters from the region disrupted the megaload’s travel. Two people were arrested after chaining themselves to the truck. Others chanted in favor of those who were arrested and charged with misdemeanors, and jeered the company’s employees and contractors for their role in harming the environment. Climate activists protested transporting the 300,000-pound water purification equipment for environmental reasons.
The focus of the debate changed quickly. Instead of wrestling with the idea of transportation plans or even the big picture consideration of tar sands oil extraction, many were debating the protesters themselves. Were they within their rights to disrupt the machine’s travel as a form of non-violent rebellion, or did they go overboard and show themselves to be anarchists who don’t care what innocent people they harm in their war on the status quo?
It’s strange that protesters are often denigrated in modern America as being “wackos” with too much time on their hands and not with their head in the same world as the rest of us. Many of the people we think of as heroes were protesters themselves, sometimes leading very unpopular movements at the time. Remember the Boston Tea Party? That was much more destructive, disruptive, and subversive than chaining yourself to a machine. Recently deceased Nelson Mandela was an icon of resistance and protest, and so were Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and a legion of suffragettes.
Some may consider such protest a lost cause – a David versus Goliath where David forgot the slingshot. Others see such action as rude, obnoxious, and directed at the wrong people. Still others point to the ballot box, majority rule and all of us agreeing to live with the results.
Yet in a country where attitudes often tend toward apathy and obesity instead of passion and protest, it’s refreshing to see some people who feel enough to fight – nonviolently, of course. We might not agree with the message, but we do agree with the method.
Protesters made themselves heard and got Eastern Oregon talking about a topic that may have slipped right past us.
Now it’s up to each of us to make up our own minds and stand up for what we believe.
(By the East Oregonian)