The Former Right to Protest, now a Restricted Privilege

Protests in the United States, once a sacrosanct right, have become tolerable only when deemed politically correct by politicized leaders of the criminal justice system (an oxymoron) and their rubber stamp echoes in the lazy, politicized judicial system.  The purported guardians of the truth and defenders of the citizenry from governmental abuse, the “fourth estate” (i.e., the “press”) have, for the most part, switched sides.  Just consider what happens now to real journalists like Julian Assange and Seymour Hersh.

It’s no longer the nature of the protests that matter (whether peaceful or violent), but the subject matter.  While perhaps, to an extent that has always been the case in the United States, it has now become the rule.  Contrast reactions to protests during the four years immediately following the 2016 presidential election, when apparently anything was fair game including looting, arson, mayhem and murder, with the protests following the presidential election in 2020, when less severe political protests became anathema.  But the bastardization of the right to protest and of the related right to freedom of expression, has now taken a massive leap backward, a backflip, if you will.

On March 9, 2023, Peoples Dispatch, formerly The Dawn News (an international media project which seeks to assure that the coverage of news is not restricted to the rhetoric of politicians and the fortunes of big companies but encompasses the richness and diversity of mobilizations from around the world), published an article, without identifying the writer, perhaps for obvious reasons, entitled “Protesters Charged with Terrorism in Atlanta”.  The article, as is so often the case, was published in Consortium News, one of the very few reliable sources of information still available, and dealt with the spreading tendency to treat political protest in the United States as “terrorism”.  Atlanta is once again a focal point.

This time, protests involved the perversion of the government’s eminent domain powers to create what residents called a “cop city”, a proposed $90 million police training complex in the City of Atlanta, Georgia.  The government’s reaction seems not only perverse, but, with the cooperation of the media, was orchestrated to create the false impression that the protestors were not local residents but rather out of state provocateurs.  In recent years, when convenient for electoral purposes, Georgia has become a magnet for out of state activists who have been urged to participate in second round elections, even if they voted elsewhere in the initial rounds, but evidently, they are only welcome when convenient for Deep State purposes.

The United States Declaration of Independence and its Constitution of 1787-89 (which replaced the first constitution of the United States, the Articles of Confederation), both unequivocally enshrine the right to protest government actions, and not always peacefully.  The Revolutionary War was hardly peaceful.  But the Deep State is, with the collaboration of the corporate media, the Department of Justice, the intelligence agencies, the Democratic Party and traditionalist (non-Tea Party) Republicans, as well as a lazy and politicized judiciary, doing away with such right.  It is now merely a privilege afforded to the politically useful, e.g., supporters of black lives matter groups, pro-abortion groups and anti-Trump groups of all kind (e.g., the vagina hatted, the “resistance”, the Russiagated crowd, etc.). 

An example of where we find ourselves is reflected in the information being made available to the public, despite large scale obstruction by the Democratic Party, the Capitol Police, the Justice Department and the corporate media concerning the events that really took place on January 6, 2020, events which were the subject of orchestrated, televised hearings by a special committee of the House of Representatives and of thousands of prosecutions by the Biden “Justice” Department.  Police videos, frequently withheld from defendants, show how completely false and out of control the Deep State has become in seeking to impose and maintain control over an uncooperative electorate.  Trumped up charges of terrorism and espionage, perverting completely the original intent of legislation that authorized drastic curtailment of civil rights under extraordinary circumstances, have now become common, and the cooperative judiciary acts, not as a neutral arbiter, but as a collaborative prosecutor, impeding rights to present relevant evidence in kangaroo court proceedings.  The events in Atlanta were a logical extension of the prosecutorial improprieties in the trials of defendants charged with criminal violations for their participation in events at the Capitol on January 6, 2020.  And it is unlikely that the tendency will end in Atlanta.  We have gone from a libertarian state, to an authoritarian system tending towards totalitarianism, the things of which our Deep State has so often accused other states.

The image of Julian Assange, incarcerated and tortured in a maximum security British prison at the request of the Biden administration which seeks to extradite and try him for telling the truth tells it all.  Magna Carta, like our Bill of Rights, seems now useful primarily for purposes of post fecal hygiene.

We were warned this would happen.  We were warned in 1948 by George Orwell, we were warned by Aldous Huxley, we were warned by Kurt Vonnegut, and we were warned by many others, and despite a blackout on real news by the corporate media, we are constantly being warned by courageous independent journalists like Julian Assange (and you know where he is), Seymour Hersh and the varied writers who publish in Consortium News (a donation supported news source) and other alternative news sources like Truthdig, and Common Dreams and now Substack.  We were warned by brave whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, among many others (most either jailed, formerly jailed or in exile).  All of the foregoing have done their best to keep any who care informed.  Unfortunately, as this article illustrates, the tide is in favor of the corrupt, the power mad, the warmongers and of their insipidly silly supporters who ironically identify as the “woke”.

Our situation today parallels that which was the subject of a poem following World War II by Martin Niemöller, a German Lutheran pastor and theologian born in Lippstadt, Germany, in 1892.  A version of his poem is enshrined in the United States Holocaust Museum, as follows:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist.  Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.  Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.  Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.

It may already be too late to turn things around, but, like Troy’s Cassandra, some of us will keep trying, and if it’s too late for the United States, that may not be the case with the global south. 

From the Republic of Colombia, … here’s hoping.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2023; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  However, he is also fascinated by mythology, religion, physics, astronomy and mathematics, especially with matters related to quanta and cosmogony.  He can be contacted at and much of his writing is available through his blog at

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