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“Peaceful Protest” Is a Contradiction in Terms

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A protester walks through tear gas during a demonstration against police Portland, Oregon, U.S., July 29, 2020. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The mainstream media reflexively praise the civic unrest afflicting major cities across the country, using the term “peaceful protest,” without ever acknowledging that the phrase is an obvious contradiction in terms. A picnic can be peaceful. A yoga conclave can be peaceful. But a protest cannot—its very purpose is disturbing the peace, shattering calm and complacency, heightening tension and conflict, not resolving it.

Dictionary definitions for the word “peaceful” are, number one, “peaceable”, and number two, “untroubled by conflict, agitation or commotion; quiet, tranquil.” There’s nothing quiet or tranquil about what’s going on today. Yes, protests can be non-violent—Dr. King and the late John Lewis always stressed non-violence, even in the face of violent provocation. But the current demonstrations emphasize no positive goals or programs of reform, amounting only to angry expressions of unfocused rage.

Naturally, there’s nothing “peaceful” in this process—a process which, in most cases, leads inevitably to violent destruction.

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