In Miami on Saturday, the law enforcement community had its most exciting morning since the last Krispy Kreme grand opening, executing their three minute drill to pull off The Elian Grab (or whatever the latest cable news graphic calls it).
When the feds burst into the house, they found Elian being held by the fisherman (every family should keep an ace angler around for just such an occasion). He was trying to hide the boy in the closet. The closet. So, in addition to the fear of federal agents storming through the house, Elian had to deal with a bunch of hangers sticking him in the back of the neck. Great. But let’s move on to a more important point.
Hello, Dr. Obvious! Hiding in the closet when the cops come into the house is about as useless as keeping your extra cash in your sock drawer or putting your wallet in your sneaker at the beach. You’re dealing with pros here, so that’s the first place they look! This was the most foreshadowed closet extraction since that next door neighbor in “American Beauty.”
Naturally, The Grab set off a slew of demonstrations all over Miami — and even in Union City, New Jersey, where several people lay themselves down in the road at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel.
I’d never make a good protester. It’s not that there aren’t things that I’m willing to raise my voice in opposition to (as any listener of my show knows). It’s just that I never got the memo that explains the logic behind the modern methods of airing grievances.
I don’t get the connection between anger at the federal government and blocking a Greyhound bus twelve hundred miles away. I could see the outrage if the bus company changed its slogan to “Leave the driving to Fidel.” Otherwise, what’s the point? All you’ve done is reset the road rage meter for a bunch of already angry commuters.
The drive to work in Miami, meanwhile, was a little easier today. That’s because tens of thousands of Cuban-Americans held a work strike. They didn’t necessarily stay home, but they didn’t go to their jobs.
Many of the Cuban immigrants own their own businesses, but kept their doors closed. Pardon my naivete, but if you close your own business, who are you hurting but yourself? “If the people I’m opposed to don’t change their minds, then I may never open the store again. Then I won’t have any income. Then I’ll go bankrupt. That will teach Janet Reno a lesson she’ll not soon forget!”
On the baseball field, four Cuban-American members of the Florida Marlins protested by refusing to play tonight. The way attendance has been at Marlins home games, the team would be better off if these guys put on street clothes and sat in the stands — that would double their average crowd (on some nights, it was not unusual for there to be more people outside the Gonzalez house than at Protest, ahem, Pro Player Stadium). But how does their not playing send a message to the Justice Department?
It’s the same logic, I suppose, that drives the street protests. This is where I’d feel terribly left out, because I don’t have any extra tires to burn. If someone were to start a bonfire in the middle of my street, I wouldn’t have a single tire to roll down the street and toss in the flames to join in the demonstration. Sure, it sounds like hours of family fun, but I don’t even know what kind of tire burns best. Does it have to be a radial? Do those new run-flat tires make cool colors when they burn? Is it politically incorrect to only use whitewalls? If it’s a cold-weather protest, should my sacrificial tire have studs?
In every protest march, there must be a hearty round of slogan shouting, and the crowd outside the Gonzalez home for the last five months kept the tradition alive. For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, I can report that the English translation of their chant was roughly, “Hell, no, we won’t go!”
What’s the problem with that? It’s stale. We haven’t had a good new protest chant for about two generations. Anthropologists will verify that “Hell, no, we won’t go” was first shouted in the same era that brought us “let’s light our lighters until the band comes back on for an encore.”
The other ancient and overused protest chant is “What do we want? (insert phrase for your cause here) When do we want it? Now!” This chant works much better with a crowd under 40. Once over that age, the marchers’ answer to “What do we want?” usually is “A bathroom!”
My point is, protestors need new slogans — as long as they’re not just for the sake of being current and trendy. We don’t need an angry mob chanting “Drop the chalupa!” or, even worse, “Whasssuppp?”