Anna: mmm, bleach, delicious.
So, I know usually we try to go wide and international for the PT but we gotta go local this weekend so I can tell y’all about the Protest That Wasn’t very close to me. As y’all know, there is a growing (and then I assume shrinking) population of united dumbasses protesting the government doing the very governmental action of governing which, the horror, I guess. At least here in the US. I don’t know about other countries, though I would like to find out.
Anyway, I was perusing the Book of Faces the other day and came across a local kerfuffle. Someone had started a Facebook group for the whole state of Illinois to help facilitate the protests of the state government. Honestly this should have been the first clue something was sketchy, but this pandemic has greatly weakened my opinion of the average American’s intelligence. For those of you who don’t know, Illinois (the s is silent) is not actually a liberal state. It is, but it isn’t. Chigoland has almost half the state’s population, maybe more depending on where you fall in the suburbs debate,and there are several cities with liberal hotspots, but by landmass it is a conservative hellhole from which I will never escape. It is basically a microcosm of the United States as a whole.
What this means is that Chicago will vote in a governor who knows what they are talking about in regards to Chicago, and then everyone in central Illinois will complain the governor is corrupt because they only care about Chicago. Now, oftentimes Illinois politicians are…not great, but where the most people are is where the most money should go. Illinois is an egg and I-88 is our shell, and despite each and every Illinois resident knowing three people who raise chickens, none of us paid attention to the osmosis experiment in high school, and Chicago is probably keeping our state alive. So, with this conflict since time immemorial (like the 1880s) the Facebook group about protests decided to plan and schedule one in the town one over for me.
This was a strategic, tactical decision. Like several towns in the area, the position of the hospital is on one side of the railroad tracks However, unlike several cities that, you know, built an overpass somewhere, this town not only has a railway cutting through town with no overpasses, it also has two rivers and a canal that need to be accessed by bridges. The protest post did not just say “let’s protest our rights being infringed”, it said “we’re going to cut off the bridge.”
This causes every _________Area Facebook group to lose their goddamn minds. The gossip pages have devolved to commenting warfare, the garage sales are in lockdown, the meme pages finally have fresh content. Friend is turning on friend, estranged uncles are commenting under unrelated posts, everyone is mad at someone named Karen…
Three distinct schools of thought arrive, as far as I saw:
- “These people are right but I’m not actually going to join them. I’m just using this to talk shit about those other church ladies I don’t like.”
- “These people are very wrong and I have never learned that Facebook arguments are ineffective. Let me speak to them and surely they will change their minds.
- “This is Illinois, we all have spare snowplows on our trucks, and I’m bored. Go ahead and block the bridge.”
The original post that was shared got support, I want to be very clear. There were people that agreed with them. The local newspaper was beginning to prepare. The Facebook groups were now on lockdown post approval, subject banning alert.
The day of the rally came, and the one reporter they could still afford dutifully interviewed the cops. No one showed up. Not like “oh only two people showed up, basically no one.” I mean even the homeless person who usually lives in that park went out of his way to leave for the day, nobody.
The news broke in the evening that several similar protest groups were AstroTurf® campaigns, but oh, would you look at that, the group has been erased from existence and no one can point it out to the various area pages because the subject is still banned. (Rest assured, many brave patriots were banned for bringing it up in comments that day).
Here’s what– I don’t know if “bothers” is the right word– worries? Sticks with me? The city they chose for this endeavor was probably the tactical best one for it. We are in an area famed for starving opponents out and naming every rock in sight after a probably fake local indigenous legend. I don’t mean physically it was the right tactical choice. There are cities around here more vocally conservative/Republican/Trumpist. The one they picked is where many of the rich, “we don’t talk about politics” ones lived. There’s an imbalance there with workers who just got laid off at one of the big companies and people still complaining they didn’t put enough lights on trees at Christmas. There is an entire four block range of boutique stores that closed at 5 pm downtown pre-pandemic because they apparently don’t need any working class people’s money to exist.
It is a hopeful sign that the protest failed here; that even people who were vindictively excited at what Trump would do to Chicago are staying home. But the number of Facebook commenters who agree with them will only keep growing. Our governor declared this week that masks would become mandatory for being in public, and already they’ve started complaining that Illinois is too liberal and this is why people are leaving (ah yes, the rule that didn’t start until May 2020, and not that my daughter can go swimming in potholes).
Even when the pandemic part of this is over, it’s not really going to be over. Chicago was hit, hard, by this in a way that unequally affected minorities, and many of the people downstate privately think that may help solve the problems troubling our state. We may fall to the next AstroTurf® campaign.
Or start drinking bleach, apparently.