Monday, June 11, 2012

Protesting in a strange place

Today when I was walking to Elli's school I came across a large group of people carrying signs and shouting.  I was a bit puzzled because they weren't standing anywhere significant particularly but rather just in front of a random building in a light commercial area on Eglinton Ave.  When I got close to them I sorted out from their signs that they were protesting against US troops being in the Philippines.  Their leader proceeded to scream at me through a megaphone from about 1 meter away and I beat a hasty retreat - I have a real thing for avoiding excessive noise.

So here is what is puzzling me.  Why are a group of Philippinos protesting against US troops sitting in midtown Toronto?  I knew that the US had bases in the Philippines but wasn't exactly aware of opposition to that fact so I suppose they succeeded in informing me of their concerns but how does it matter that I know?  Even if you think that the average American voter has a real say in where the US army goes you can't possibly think that a random Canadian does!  What does my knowing that a few Philippinos in Toronto dislike US military presence in the Philippines accomplish?

I am really not much of a protest person even when I think the protest is on the right side and appropriately staged.  I just don't see the point in it much of the time though the Arab Spring last year really did show us that protests can serve as a real force for change.  In that case though there were protests in places that really stood to matter doing things that couldn't be ignored; protesting US politics in other countries on Eglinton Ave just doesn't seem likely to get anything done.  No one who notices can do anything at all about it; even if I could change US policy on a whim the Philippines would be way down on the list.  It might get fixed by "Dismantle 90% of the military" though which would be pretty high up there.

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