The Psychology of Effective Protest

The Psychology of Effective Protest

New research shows why nonviolence works better than extreme tactics.

People gather in Berlin in solidarity with Women’s March in Washington.Hannibal Hanschke 
Nearly every faction that opposes Trump seems to have organized its own protest in recent months. The women have already marched, and now they’re doubling down with a day without women. (They’ve taken a page from immigrants, whom we also went a day without.) Soon, many scientists will march, as will some taxpayers who want to make sure Trump is one, too.Most of these protests have been peaceful, but the protest against a planned speech by former Breitbart journalist Milo Yiannopoulous at the University of California, Berkeley, earlier this month showed that left-wing groups aren’t just about nonviolence and vagina drawings. The protesters “threw smoke bombs, knocked down barriers, set fires and started fights in the south campus area,” as USA Today reported, prompting President Trump to threaten Berkeley’s “FEDERAL FUNDS.”These splashier protests do draw lots of media coverage, research shows, because of journalists’ appetite for anything novel or unusual. But several new studies on the psychology behind protests show that, perversely, “extreme” protests like that at Berkeley also undermine activists’ overarching goal of attracting more people to their movement. What’s worse, activists don’t realize they are hoisting themselves with their own smoke bombs.
For one recent study, which is currently under review, the authors examined what happened when three different types of protesters—animal rights, Black Lives Matter, and anti-Trump—used either moderate or extreme protest tactics.“A prototypical extreme protest is something where vandalism occurs or violence is threatened, or protesters behave in a violent way, or an interstate highway gets shut down,” said Robb Willer, a Stanford University sociologist and co-author of the study. The Women’s March, Willer says, is a prototype of a moderate protest—one without hateful rhetoric or violence.

First, the researchers found that the study’s participants identified less with and were less willing to support a fictional group of animal-rights protesters who broke into an animal-testing facility than with those who marched peacefully. Then, both African-American and white participants felt more support toward Black Lives Matter protesters if they read that the protesters chanted anti-racist slogans than if they encouraged violence against police officers.

Finally, and perhaps most topically: The researchers showed people a video of a “moderate” anti-Trump protest, in which protesters held signs and chanted, as well as a news report about an “extreme” protest, in which protestors caused a traffic jam and blocked Trump supporters from reaching a Trump rally. People shown the extreme anti-Trump protests actually supported Trump more—an effect that occurred, to varying degrees, among liberals and conservatives alike.

Over and over, the researchers found the reason the extreme protesters were dissuasive is that less-radical bystanders couldn’t identify with them. People generally don’t see themselves as disruptors of the social order, Willer told me, even for causes they believe in. Ultimately, our belief in something is surpassed by our desire to conform.“When the social order is being greatly disrupted, when property is being destroyed, when there’s some risk of harm to people, that leads to a dis-identification effect, where people say ‘I’m not like those people,’” Willer said.The problem is, the extreme protesters didn’t realize this would happen. When Willer and his co-authors surveyed people about the causes they believe in and what they would be willing to do for the cause, the truest believers were willing to go to the most extreme lengths—and they thought the tactics would help gin up support.“It can be really difficult to take the perspective of a bystander who has not yet joined a movement, when you’re interacting mostly with other activists,” Willer said. “Bystanders are asking, ‘Am I like them? Can I see this issue the way they see it?’”

The findings echo the results of another recent study by Princeton University’s Omar Wasow, which found that nonviolent, civil-rights protests of the 1960s boosted votes among whites for Democratic candidates, who supported civil rights, while violent protests increased support for Republicans, and might have even tipped the the 1968 election for Richard Nixon.

“Nonviolence conveys moderation, and when things escalate to violence, that signals a radical or extreme movement,” Wasow said. “It makes the claims of the group less legitimate.”So what’s the best way to protest for maximum influence? As my colleague David Frum has written, “The more conservative protests are, the more radical they are. … Be orderly, polite, and visibly patriotic. … The goal is to gain allies among people who would not normally agree with you.”That might mean focusing on issues rather than specific politicians like Trump. Here’s how New York magazine’s Jesse Singal explained it:

“You want everyone who can get into the streets,” said [Dana Fisher, a sociologist at the University of Maryland]. But in the longer term, there could be downsides to harping too much on Trump, when many of the policy preferences he has stated or hinted at with his appointments — repealing the Affordable Care Act, restricting access to abortion, and others — are also held by plenty of other conservative politicians. So if the protest movements arising now are all anti-Trump, all the time, [the University of Michigan political sociologist] Michael Heaney said, there’s a heightened risk “they never achieve the policy changes they were aiming to achieve,” because once Trump leaves office it saps the movement’s energy.

But even as movements focus on issues, the research shows that they should do their best to welcome all comers. And the best way to do that is to appear, frankly, welcoming. “What do you do to build a coalition?” Wasow said. “You’ve got to appeal not to the liberals, but to the moderates.” In his study about the 1960s, that meant enticing people who weren’t vocally pro-integration, but weren’t unpersuadable either.

In the current context, he said, “These are people who might vote for Obama and vote for Trump.”


I agree that protests that will influence others’ need to be non-violent. Non-violence is the standard set by Ghandi and it won India their freedom. And a good dose of non-violent, passive resistance. We need to be seen as strong, determined and logical. The moderates and those who are unsure about their vote for the present government, need to see us in the streets for the issues that touch the lives of the marginalized. We need to keep showing them the whole person whether it is a Muslim, Jew, Black, or disabled person. We need to show them the poor, the hungry, those for whom our hearts are filled with compassion.


We need to take these people, the “they” and turn them into real people. Give them a name, show their humanity and suffering, help the conservatives see each individual as a human being and not just some lump of clay that is costing them increased tax dollars.


It is also important that we as liberals and progressives show a multi-faceted picture to the country and to the world. We need to be out in the streets as women and feminist men; as able-bodied and disabled people; as young, old and middle-aged; as poor people as well as those who have more financial options. We need to show them our love for each other by showing black, white, asian, native, Hispanic, Muslim, Jew, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Hindu and all others working together and caring for and about each other. This is important because we are the face and the heart of America. The generations of immigrants and refugees who came here are the strength of America. Their determination, hard work and belief in themselves and the American dream is what makes our society different.


The administration announced yesterday that the EPA is to look over the water regulations and decide if any are harmful to the economics of our country. Harmful to our  environment isn’t even a factor. If the environment that we live in and that sustains Mother Earth doesn’t even count except as an economic consideration, then it is going to take a lot of work to introduce the sitting government and the Trump supporters to marginalized people, not as a abstract notion, but as real flesh and blood people with the same needs, concerns, hopes and dreams that they have. This is the real work of the resistance: The American Resistance.


During WWII The French Resistance fought the Nazis and did much to save lives, smuggle Jews out, break German code and make the plans of the Nazis go awry. Today, we also have a movement, the American Resistance. Hopefully it will not require the same long-term dedication but if it does, we will be there to show that acceptance, compassion and love are the mainstays of a great society.




The Shame of the Muslim Ban



Trump’s Border Patrol Defies Judge, U.S. Senator at Dulles Airport as His First Constitutional Crisis Unfolds

Legal immigrants and refugees from seven majority Muslim countries found themselves detained as they landed at Washington Dulles International Airport as President Trump’s half-baked Muslim ban went into effect over the weekend.


Late Saturday night, in the jam-packed baggage terminal for international arrivals at Washington Dulles International Airport, dozens of lawyers and hundreds of protesters watched as the first major Constitutional crisis of the Trump presidency played out. 

The day before, Trump signed an executive order barring people from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. But many people traveling to the U.S. from those countries––including legal permanent residents of the U.S.––were already in the air and couldn’t turn around. As a result, airports across the country turned into lawfare zones, with cadres of volunteer lawyers squaring off against bureaucrats in the Customs and Border Protection agency. Late-night rulings from federal judges made a legally unprecedented situation even more dramatic, with all three branches of the federal government—congressional, executive, and judicial—warring with each other. At stake: the lives and safety of people trying to legally enter the U.S.

 At about 7:30 p.m., a boisterous crowd of several hundred pro-refugee protesters had circled around the “International Arrivals” baggage claim at Dulles—flanked by police who cleared a passageway so people getting off planes could get through. Protesters waved signs saying refugees were welcome (some signs read “Welcome” in Arabic), denouncing President Trump, and calling for Christians to show Christlike love to people fleeing terrorism. They carried “Welcome Home” balloons and they sang songs. 

And there were chants, including “Let them see their lawyers now!” 

There were dozens of lawyers, brought together by the International Refugee Assistance Project. A handful actually practiced immigration law, and dozens more with non-immigration backgrounds—bankruptcy, litigation, you name it—showed up to try to help. 

Early in the evening, a huge piece of news broke: Two federal judges, Ann Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York and Leonie Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia, had made rulings that would stall the implementation of Trump’s anti-refugee executive order. 

For the lawyers at Dulles Airport, Brinkema’s ruling generated a ton of excitement. She ruled that the travelers detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had a right to see lawyers. 

After the ruling came out, lawyers bustled around, filling out forms declaring that detainees were their clients (someone had thought to bring a printer). Any minute, they expected, they would be able to see the detainees and try to help them get into the U.S. 

At this point, it wasn’t clear how many people were detained and which of them were legal permanent residents of the U.S. Lawyers didn’t even know all the names of the people they were trying to help. It wasn’t clear if some detainees had been put back on planes returning to their countries of origin, or if detainees had been shuttled off to immigrant detention centers in Northern Virginia. The travelers were all being held in what’s called “secondary inspection,” referred to as “secondary.” It’s part of the CBP screening process where lawyers are rarely, if ever, allowed to be present. 

But lawyers who spoke to The Daily Beast said it’s also unheard of for government agencies like CBP to prevent people who have the legal right to live in the U.S. from seeing their lawyers. And that’s what was happening. 

After Brinkema’s order came down, and lawyers at Dulles prepared to meet their new clients, the CBP balked, barring these lawyers from seeing their would-be clients.  

Time ticked. Protesters chanted. CBP officials were invisible; for hours, lawyers didn’t know if CBP officials at Dulles had even acknowledged Brinkema’s ruling existed. 

Lawyers wrung their hands. And then, slowly, detainees started trickling out, one or two at a time. One woman who had been detained doubled over sobbing as she walked through the crowd. She nearly collapsed onto a loved one. Another man who was detained, Javad Fotouhi, calmly fielded questions from a scrum of reporters about the four hours he spent in secondary. When CBP finally let him go, he said, they didn’t say why. 

“We saw elderly people and disabled people,” he said. 

Then two wheelchair-bound people—an 88-year-old man and his 83-year-old wife, both of whom have green cards, according to their granddaughter—came out. Their granddaughter, Pegah Rahmani (an American citizen who lives in Fairfax, Va.) doubled over to hug them. She told The Daily Beast that her grandmother had recently had a stroke and her grandfather was legally blind.

“They really weren’t treating them very nicely,” she said, of their time in detention. “They took a lot of their stuff.”

That included medication; neither of the feeble octogenarians had access to their meds, much less to lawyers. 

Another Iraqi man who was detained made a beeline out of the airport as soon as he was set free. Standing at the curb, he lit up a thin cigarette and told reporters that there was a family still detained, including a wheelchair-bound young woman with mental disabilities. 

As the night wore on, it became increasingly clear that CBP was defying Brinkema’s ruling. Lawyers concluded that that meant someone was in contempt of court. The judge could theoretically send in federal law enforcement officers to force CBP to let the lawyers meet with the detainees. But sending in the U.S. Marshals—who are part of the Department of Justice—to take on Customs and Border Patrol—which is part of the Department of Homeland Security—would have been a bureaucratic clash of the titans. And, like everything else that night, it would have been unprecedented. It didn’t happen.

Though detainees were slowly being released, lawyers were disturbed that they couldn’t meet with them. What if CBP tried to coerce detainees into signing paperwork that could jeopardize their legal status? Release wasn’t enough. A federal agency was defying a federal judge, and no one was quite sure what to do. 

Then at around 11:45 pm, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker showed up. 

He had come to get the travelers out of detention, “or at least access to an attorney,” he told The Daily Beast. 

Then he disappeared down a hallway blocked off by police, back to where the CBP officials had quarantined themselves. 

Booker stayed back there for about half an hour, and then he pushed through the crowd of roaring protesters and—flanked by glowering policemen—addressed the crowd. After a few opening words, he held up a copy of Brinkema’s order.

“I am now of the belief that though this was issued by the judicial branch, that it was violated tonight,” he said. “And so one of the things I will be doing is fighting to make sure that the executive branch abides by the law as it was issued in this state and around the nation. This will be an ongoing battle.”

The crowd cheered. 

“We see tonight what I believe is a clear violation of the Constitution,” he continued. “And so clearly tonight we have to commit ourselves to the longer fight. Clearly tonight, we have to commit ourselves to the cause of our country. Clearly tonight, we have to be determined to show this world what America is all about.” 

Asked by The Daily Beast what CBP officers had told him about why they wouldn’t let detainees see their lawyers. 

“They told me nothing, and it was unacceptable,” he said. “I believe it’s a Constitutional crisis, where the executive branch is not abiding by the law.” 

A source familiar with Booker’s exchange with CBP officials told The Daily Beast that officials with the agency refused to see him face to face. Instead, Booker wrote questions on a piece of paper which he handed to police officers, and those officers gave the paper—along with a copy of Brinkema’s ruling—to CBP officials. Those CBP officials then wrote out their answers to the senator’s questions, according to the source. The source described it as a half-written, half-spoken game of telephone. 

An executive agency defying the ruling of a federal judge, and a U.S. senator trying—unsuccessfully—to make that agency comply.

At the end of the night, there was at least one traveler still detained: a Syrian woman, who had a J-2 non-immigrant visa. Her husband is a doctor working at a hospital in D.C., and she had come to try to be with him. Her lawyer, Rob Robertson—a tall, large man with a pinkish chambray shirt, cargo pants, and a snowy white goatee—told The Daily Beast that he expected her to be taken to an ICE facility on Sunday, where an ICE agent would interview her to assess if she was truly afraid of going back to Syria. Robertson, who was representing her pro bono, said she would pass that interview process with no trouble; if she went back, she could be in serious danger. 

The woman’s husband, eyes bloodshot, implored Robertson: Would she be comfortable tonight?

He said she probably would, and he was optimistic that she would be free in two weeks or less. This isn’t Robertson’s first showdown with ICE, and won’t be his last. 

 “This is fun,” he said.
If you are like me,  you have been watching the protests at airports across the country. I am horrified that people were stopped from getting on the planes to come home. I thought about the people who got off the plane tired and happy to be back only to find themselves being detained. Detained and questioned because they were Muslims.
 I can’t imagine what they were all feeling. Perhaps shock, anger, helpless, or scared. Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic were returning to Cleveland and they weren’t allowed in. There was a woman who was coming here to attend her child’s’ graduation. Some people have permanent established lives here in America. They have homes, families, and friends here. They are like you and I in every way except that they weren’t born here but in an Arabic country. An act of fate? You could have been born in Iraq.
The customs guards took their possessions and demanded to know all about their social media information and their cell phone numbers. This is illegal. Lawyers began to arrive to offer their services to these people Trump decided he doesn’t want here. they worked pro bono to help as much as they could. A husband and wife were detained until this morning. They were released in wheelchairs. One was blind and one had suffered a stroke. I am sure they were terrified.
The countries that these targeted Muslims were from countries that have never attacked America. The countries that have sent terrorists are not included in the ban. This makes the ban totally illogical as well as illegal.
afghani-boy                                                                                          Afghani boy smiling
                                                                                              Muslim girl with teddy bear

                                                                                 Muslims are human beings like you and me

Domestic Violence Must End

You Can Help End Domestic Violence

You Can Help End Domestic Violence

According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families. If a couple has a violent argument in the home, it is usually the woman and children who flee. They flee with little but what is on their backs. This is another reason why Domestic Violence Shelters are so important. They can place the women and children into temporary housing. Most can then also help them to find housing for her and the children. In my long experience I have never known a man to leave unless he is the victim.
Survivors of domestic violence face higher rates of depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety, flashbacks (PTSD) and other mental disturbances. Many are too ashamed of being beaten to go to a doctor or mental health worker and ask for help.

Stop Family Violence

Stop Family Violence

Domestic Violence contributes to poor health in survivors. Chronic conditions such as heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders can become more serious due to repeated battering. Fear and anger build up in the victim and the stress can lead to other health issues.

Among women brought to an Emergency Room after being beaten, were socially isolated, and had fewer social and financial resources than women who were not abused. Part of the emotional abuse is social isolation. The victim is cut off from friends, family, therapists, neighbors because the abuser needs to have total control over the victim. Abusers don’t want women to hear there is a place to go and get help. i often would put the hotline number on a piece of paper and pass it to the victim without being seen. Each city has a hotline number and you can help save a life by getting the number and gently putting it into a woman’s hand.

Without help, girls who witness domestic violence are more vulnerable to abuse when they are teens and young adults. Without help, boys who witness domestic violence, are far more likely to become abusers of their partners and/or children as adults. This continues the cycle of violence into later generations.


There is Never a Reason to Hit Another Human Being

There is Never a Reason to Hit Another Human Being



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