#MarchinMarch deniers – in speaking you show your unease

To all March In March (MIM) deniers: if the MIM were the irrelevant, easily dismissed non-event you claim it is, why are you all going on about it so long, loud and vehemently? By your very speech you proclaim what you’re attempting to deny, and you broadcast your clear unease that around 100,000 of your fellow citizens are so unhappy about the way they’re being governed that they organised not one, or two, but literally dozens of successful marches.

Despite this clear and overwhelming evidence, the deniers are doing the best that they can to trivialise, blunt or, let’s face it, deny, what just happened.

Here are my top 5 MarchInMarch denier statements:

1. They complained about the “Ditch the Witch” signs, and now their signs are ten times worse.

  • The March was not about the signs. It was about people’s honest, grass-roots dismay at the way we are being governed. Around 100,000 people took the time and effort to get up and say that. The previous “demonstration” had roughly 1,000 people attending. To even compare the two is ridiculous and offensive to the 99,000 additional marchers.
  • Of 100,000 marchers, the vast majority of signs were not violent, obscene or offensive. I’ve challenged several “sign critics” to estimate the proportion of offensive signs, and none will engage, because the inanity of their criticism is immediately apparent. The presence of an impolite, rude or offensive minority does not somehow magically cancel out the vast majority who marched.
  • None of the podiums had huge, official, offensive signs behind them, and no shadow ministers stood happily grinning in front of offensive banners. Individuals held individual banners, a small proportion of which were offensive. It’s called free speech, and we all enjoy it, more or less. It’s when your entire movement willingly identifies itself with an offensive banner that it calls for comment. That happened last time, not this.
  • If this is the worst criticism you can level at those who marched, you clearly show your unwillingness to admit the total size, will and purpose of 100,000 fellow citizens, and your attempt to trivialise their concerns into an argument about a few signs just shows how desperate you are to pretend it doesn’t matter.

2. There was no single cause, it was just a big bunch of people whinging.

  • There was a single cause, and it was very clear – we are not happy with how we are being governed.
  • To point at the multitude of examples of that concern doesn’t make it go away. If anything, it highlights just how broad and deep it runs. If the only reason 100,000 people marched was Climate Change, or Gonski, or the Reef, or Asylum Seekers, or Womens’ Rights, Health, or… then that would be a significant issue, and would command attention and debate, and not about silly signs.
  • The fact that there are so many examples of that basic underlying concern doesn’t weaken the force of those 100,000 marcher’s issues. Just the opposite. That they were happy to march shoulder to shoulder with each other clearly demonstrates the essential community of purpose as well as the really endemic nature of the problem. Deniers, you’re saying this is a really broad problem, yes? How does that make it small or irrelevant?
  • In an age where public marches are rare, a national uprising (because there’s no better word) taking place from idea to execution in only a few months is not “whinging”. Sending 140 character snide remarks is “whinging”. Comparing rude signs is “whinging”. Making a sign, going to town, and spending your day marching for a cause is not “whinging”! It’s being moved to action and protest.

3. The government was elected by x million people, and have a right to govern. A few thousand people have no right to challenge that.

  • This is not an election. This is a protest. Please don’t confuse the two, or you may be in trouble at the next election.
  • The MIM was not claiming that the government is illegitimate. It was protesting at the way the government is behaving. That’s a right we always have, and was enjoyed almost daily by the Prime Minister when he was Leader of the Opposition. It’s actually ok to do it outside of the Parliament as well.
  • Don’t confuse the right to govern with the right to do anything you like. Many of the actions of the current government are without a mandate, or are contrary to what was promised before the election. For the MIM, the reasons why people are protesting are not so important as the fact that they are protesting. When was the last time a new government drew massive protests after 6 months in office? Would “never” be about right?
  • Just because a few marchers are calling for the sacking or resignation of the Prime Minister or the government doesn’t mean the reasons for their protest are invalid, or that 100,000 people are saying that. Again, it’s an attempt to marginalise the vast majority because of a few. “Oh look, one marcher made a constitutional error, that means the other 99,999 are irrelevant”.
  • Although it’s irrelevant to the argument, it’s interesting to note that if this were an election, the current government might be in trouble, so although around 32% of Australians voted for Tony Abbott’s party at the election, around 47% of the country didn’t, and the marchers are probably drawn from both those groups.

4. The marchers are just a bunch of hopeless lefties

  • Without any survey, demographics or statistics  I’m impressed that so many deniers have been able to come up with an analysis of the 100,000 MIMers. Well done! Please publish your statistics and methodology. Until you can, please shut up, you’re embarrassing yourselves in public.

5. Marching will achieve nothing, it’s just people feeling good about having a cause

Of all the denials, this is the most pernicious, and comes from people who ostensibly support some of the causes as well as the deniers. It’s wrong.

  • Marching, of itself, causes a few things: shoe sales, drink sales, sunburn, and traffic jams. Of course it doesn’t directly change policy, topple governments, or anything else. Unless the marchers storm parliament house and lynch those inside…
  • At face value, it’s clearly true that the march itself does nothing. However that’s also obviously not what a march is about.
  • A march expresses a level of dissatisfaction and intent that’s orders of magnitude above that old-fashioned measure of concern, “letter writing”. Every politician knows that for each letter they receive there are probably 10 or 20 or 50 more electors who are thinking the same thing, but can’t be bothered to write. They will probably bother at the ballot box, however. To move from writing a letter to marching in the streets shows a massive increase in both concern, and will. Each marcher is someone who is truly motivated in their concern, and desire to see change.
  • To deny that the MIM will have an effect is just wishful thinking. To support its causes but claim it’s pointless is defeatism of the worst kind. “It won’t solve the problem, so it’s not worth doing”. That is the politics of disruption, not support. That 100,000 people are marching shows with enormous clarity that, so far, there isn’t a better way forward, but it also should energise everyone who wants one.
  • It’s undoubtedly true that if all that marchers do is march, then nothing more will be achieved. It’s also true that inevitably someone or something will come along to harness that will and concern. Undoubtedly all opposition parties will now attempt to co-opt the clear disaffection of the MIM participants, and I wish them good luck, because in my view many MIMers are almost as unhappy with all politicians as they are with the current government. How and when that already large groundswell next emerges is so far not clear, but to pretend that 100,000 people in the streets “will achieve nothing” is to be supremely dismissive of human nature and of the course of political movements.
  • Many government members in marginal electorates will now be wondering, if they weren’t already, about the wisdom of their party’s current actions. They may not speak publicly, but the MIM makes clearly visible something that only showed up in polls and rumour. The MIM was there, it was real, and now they have a measure of public unrest. That’s not nothing, already.
  • To assume that, having marched, everyone will go home happy is obviously facile. If nothing changes, or if it gets worse, then so will the reaction. It has already caused the deniers to come out in force. That’s not nothing, and there’s much more to come.

31 thoughts on “#MarchinMarch deniers – in speaking you show your unease

  1. Well articulated article thanks. It expresses my views quite accurately!

    Joe nice to hear from someone who isn’t a lefty. Although owning a business doesn’t preclude people being a lefty it’s the catch cry that has been around for many years now, “businesses always do better under a liberal government” so most business owners are assumed to be conservatives. How accurate that is would be interesting to find out. How accurate the catch cry is these days is something I would strongly debate also. Thanks also to you Ben for expressing your thoughts so well. I think you’re on the money.
    What I have been saying for some time is that surely there must be decent conservatives out there who are feeling pretty narky that their party has been hijacked by this group. Malcolm Fraser was so cheesed off he resigned from the party and I keep thinking there have to be more like him out there. I’ve just been wondering where they are and am glad to see them represented here. We may not agree on certain things but we do agree on common decency, integrity, honesty and compassion all of which are sadly lacking in this government in the pursuit of their extreme right agenda.

  2. Are you suggesting that all Abbott supporters are MIM deniers? I am not disputing that MIM occurred, I simply disagree with my fellow citizens who marched.

    [pdb – edited for relevance. Cris expounds on his own beliefs, which are better expressed in his own blog.]

    • No, Cris. If you read the article carefully you’ll see that it’s addressed to people who attempt to trivialise or dismiss the march, often using one of 5 common arguments. It’s not addressed to people who simply disagree with it. I debated whether to post your question at all, since I would have thought it was pretty clear I wasn’t making a blanket claim of the sort you suggest, but just in case you really thought that I’ve posted and replied.
      You’ll note the request for relevance, which you basically ignored. The rest of your post was a fairly long catalogue of your own beliefs, possessions and friendships and has no relevance to the March itself or to the deniers whom the article is about. As a result I’ve removed it.
      Please understand, this is not the Sydney Domain, this is my blog and not a platform for you to expound your own beliefs to my readers, or a means for you to disrupt relevant comment. My blog is not The Australian and I don’t purport to publish any and all comment. If you follow current affairs you’ll know that The Australian recently edited a reader’s letter to the editor to remove John Howard’s name and completely change the intent of the letter. At least I don’t meddle with what you say.

      • A very fair and well thought out reply 🙂 Good on you, infinite8horizon!

  3. Pingback: #MarchinMarch deniers – in speaking you show your unease | infinite8horizon | lmrh5

  4. Written very concisely, easy to read point format, very clear and to the point. Thank you very much for voicing many of the thoughts I was thinking. Their denials do only serve to degrade their own respectability in the eyes of thoughtful people.

    Regarding the usefulness of marching together: Anonymous names on the internet are a fleeting connection, easily forgotten. But when we rally together, we meet, talk, and gain memories together, we really begin to see that the time of being shy and resigned has come to an end. With so many talented, passionate and well-spoken supporters in similar just causes, I feel like my efforts will make a difference when channeled alongside those of my fellow believers in decency, etc. We all have such different and useful talents and desires to contribute. The whole is much more than the sum of its parts.

    • Like my friend who brought her not so willing (even though he agrees about Abbott) 17 year old son along said to him, “well this is a bit more than just and old lady march isn’t it?”
      We were standing outside the State Library in Melbourne at the time surrounded by thousands!
      We found our tribe.

  5. Problem for the right is their efforts at outrage failed miserably,the only thing they have is a 2GB and an audience that is dying off as most are scared of any kind of change.
    You can only preach to the Pensioner demographic for so long,& they have one jock who is a liar another who has temper & problems with criticism from women both are not worth the money they get
    Good Article

  6. Thank you for this. I’ve felt that the dismissal from the right shows their incredible ignorance, and, again, that arrogance is one of the reasons we marched. If they had bothered to come, or research, or even look at any pictures beyond the ones that picked out the most offensive ones, they would have seen a huge range of people marching. And yes, a huge range of issues. But if they thought that not one of those issues is relevant, the arrogance is mind boggling indeed.

    The other question you get is “where were these people 6 months ago?”. Well, I don’t know about others, but I was marching then against Labors refugee policy. Because, believe it or not, I’m not affiliated with a political party, but I am affiliated with a moral compass, and will try to fight those who are against that.

  7. Excellent piece and pleased you stated that many marchers were dissatisfied with all politicians. Until we get strong, decisive politicians who truly believe in their principles and don’t change horses in mid stream because the party tells them to, we will be blighted by mediocre, self interested people who care little about our country and its citizens.

  8. Nice piece. I have only one comment,

    5. Marching will achieve nothing, it’s just people feeling good about having a cause.

    Here you state that “Of course it doesn’t directly change policy, topple governments, or anything else. Unless the marchers storm parliament house and lynch those inside…”
    I would like to point you towards the “Velvet or Gentle Revolution” where change of government was achieved by no more than the population marching in protest. No violence, no lynchings. Where there is a will, there is a way…..

    • Very true, and a much better way to achieve change if it can’t happen through the ballot box than violence and revolution. I’d guess that most marchers are quite happy to see elections remain as the method we use to choose governments 🙂 although now we can clearly see the result of not asking enough questions beforehand (and a complicit media, and failing government, and…). Governments do go to the polls before their term, and of course because we don’t have fixed-length terms in most Houses that’s the norm. Sometimes they go because of public pressure. A double dissolution is a threat that Abbott mentioned once or twice when he thought he was invincible, and wanted to cow the Senate. I doubt you’ll hear much of that rhetoric now, thanks in part to MIM.

  9. To all, for your encouraging comments, thank you very much. Thank you for taking the time to respond and thank you for being so positive. I’m glad the post has been useful to you as well.

  10. Couldnt have written it better myself. The fact that the libs and their angry supporters are out in numbers trying to play this down and with the massive silence by MSM its just going to get worst for the abbott government. The only thing that is holding them together, apart from being untied for the same thing as that is to aim to be ****, is that ALP is such a bloody shambles and are not getting their shit together.
    [pdb – I removed one swear word, not because I haven’t heard it before, but because I’d be grateful if we can keep the conversation reasonably polite. Excuse the censorship]

      • Because I don’t think it’s ethical to put words into other people’s mouths, Joe. If I’m trying to communicate and convince I won’t get far if I don’t respect the people with whom I’m having the conversation.
        This is my blog, so I retain the right to choose what’s presented, but I respect other people’s right to their own expression. If I censor I won’t change, and I will let everyone know that I have done it; I think that’s the best course. Readers can mentally insert an appropriately derogatory word if they wish.

  11. I could reply here and comment with a great many eloquent words and long winded sentences, but the truth is that nothing like that is needed.

    All that is needed is for me to say: thankyou. Thankyou for writing this; thankyou for making it clear exactly how significant an issue this is; thankyou for explaining it in words we can all understand.
    This is so well written that I have no doubt that every person who reads it will come away with plenty of food for thought. I’ve shared this via FB and encouraged (and hopefully motivated in the process) others to read and share alike. This is something everyone should read!

    Again, thankyou 🙂

  12. Thank you for such a well considered article- I marched as did many others- and what was the outcome for so many of us? WE ARE NOT ALONE..a strong message of unity solidarity and hope- yes hope! Despite the MSM medias non support..its a groundswell and as any surfer knows by nature it WILL GET BIGGER..Thanks again!
    PS- SUPRISED the trolls havent got to this yet- I always wonder if they are paid by the coalition..

  13. Thank you for articulating this so clearly. I travelled from the country to join the Melbourne March and it was quite exhilarating to be among such a diverse crowd of people united by a call for decency, accountability and transparency. And predictably (though disappointingly for the organisers) there were a handful of rude signs. Big deal. So frustrating to see such poor media coverage and then the triumphant and miserly-spirited posts of people who weren’t even there! thanks again for this succinct analysis.

  14. To trivialise protest is to say that there is never an opposing view or argument to the established rule of thought. We should welcome dissent and protest, we should embrace free thought and expression and we should never deny the rights of individuals and community to object to unfair treatment, harassment and persecution…..otherwise we will surely descend into a bloody civil war!!!

  15. I tried, but I just couldn’t finish reading this. I believe that you are passionate in what you were saying but it’s just so boring.

    • Rav, I’m impressed that you bothered to tell me. I’m sorry to have been a disappointment to you. I have to brutally honest and say you’re not my ideal reader, either, but I’ll take your criticism in exactly the spirit it was meant.

    • Rav, seriously? You couldn’t be bothered reading it but you’ll happily comment? I smell bullshit.

  16. Brilliant! Thanks for writing this!

    • Hear hear! Thank you for expressing it so well! And fully agree with this:
      “in my view MIMers are almost as unhappy with all politicians as they are with the current government”
      I’m no lefty, I own a business. Perfectly happy with the principles of capitalism. I do, however, care about my fellow humans and want to live in a good and decent Australia. I’m sick of being treated with utter contempt by our politicians!

      • Hi Joe, I am too a business owner and marched on Sunday. A sign that took my fancy at the march was “It’s not about Right and Left, it’s about Right and Wrong”. I for one am not going to sit back and let this government tear apart Medicare and the ABC, treat refugees like criminals and let free market philosophy run freely at the expense of the human cost. I don’t know what line of work you’re in, but in general our business was doing a lot better under Labor than the current government. I believe you need to have a mix of government and private sector service delivery. Some things should just not be in the hands of private enterprise alone (health, education). I really don’t believe that the Liberals philosophical model is up to the task of managing a modern post industrial country and the needs of all of it’s citizens. Just look how that worked out for America over the last 5-6 years.

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