When discussing a march or large agglomeration of people aimed at putting social or political pressure on some faction of society or government, Merriam-Webster has significantly different definitions for these two nouns:
Protest: the act of objecting or a gesture of disapproval … especially: a usually organized public demonstration of disapproval.
Unrest: a situation in which many of the people in a country are angry and hold protests or act violently.
Strictly speaking, unrest doesn’t necessarily need to be violent, of course — but a person in a position of responsibility during an especially volatile time in our nation’s history, when calling for some kind of mass movement, should probably err on the side of using “protest.”
Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Ayanna Pressley, appearing on MSNBC Saturday to discuss taking to the streets to protest the Trump administration’s COVID-19 policies, decided it was high time to go with “unrest.”
“This is as much about public outcry, organizing and mobilizing and applying pressure,” Pressley said on “AM Joy.” “So that this GOP-led Senate and these governors that continue to carry water for this administration, putting American people in harm’s way, turning a deaf ear to the needs of our families and our communities – hold them accountable.
“Make the phone calls, send the emails, show up. You know, there needs to be unrest in the streets for as long as there’s unrest in our lives.”
Check it out here:
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 15, 2020
Pressley, a member of the House of Representatives’ so-called “squad,” made the remarks in response to President Trump’s stance on the United States Postal Service, including a threat to veto any proposal that sends money the USPS’ way if it’s used to expand mail-in voting.
There’s also the issue of cost-cutting measures introduced by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Pressley, according to Breitbart, also used the occasion to say that DeJoy should resign for “corruption.”
Pressley said that “the only way that [President Trump] thinks he can be even remotely successful is to suppress and to undermine our democracy, beginning with the United States Postal Service, which is a war on them and the livelihood of those essential workers and their families and those who rely upon the critical services that the postal service provides.
“We have to continue to hold this administration accountable. At every turn, they have sought to obstruct, stonewall, and evade justice and accountability. I do think that DeJoy should resign and be subpoenaed to come before the Oversight Committee.”
According to Fox News, Trump has said he would be willing to compromise with the Democrats on the $3.5 billion they want to send the USPS’ way for election resources, as well as a wider $25 billion cash infusion, if they’re willing to bargain on other issues in the next round of COVID-19 relief.
The GOP-controlled Senate and Democrat-controlled House have two areas of contention when it comes to coronavirus relief: The scope of additional federal unemployment benefits and the Democrats’ insistence on up to $1 trillion in bailout money for state and local governments.
There are, of course, ways of hashing this out, but Pressley is apparently not interested in hashing it out. She’s calling for “unrest” instead.
The word doesn’t necessarily connote a call to violence, of course, but why would you use it with other alternatives available?
We have a nightly circus of “unrest” in Portland, Oregon, in which left-wing demonstrators marked the 79th day of turbulent protests Saturday by, among other things, hurling a 10-pound rock at police, injuring two.
In Seattle, we’ve had fires set in a Starbucks that was beneath residential apartments and protesters confronting people in their homes on a residential block, telling them to give black people their homes in the name of racial justice.
Late Sunday, a pickup truck driver was viciously assaulted by Portland “protesters,” according to Fox News, and Seattle police officers were injured by “protesters” throwing rocks and fireworks at law enforcement, as ABC reported.
Is this “unrest” to Pressley’s liking?
These aren’t necessarily outliers, at least not given what we’ve seen this summer. They’re also what comes to mind when one thinks of “unrest.”
We don’t talk about “mostly peaceful unrest” or invite our friends to join in an “unrest movement.”
Many on Twitter also disagreed with the word choice:
The Squad wants violence & insurrection to fight back against supposed “oppression” in the most free country on the planet where they’re allowed to voice their opinions, attack the president and riot on a nightly basis…without consequence. The irony…https://t.co/Z5ihanPTny
— Drew Berquist (@drewberquist) August 16, 2020
While neighborhoods burn, business owners lose everything, people die at the hands of looters and rioters, communities are destroyed, Ayanna Pressley, from her comfortable and safe perch, explicitly encourages more “unrest.” This is pure evil.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) August 16, 2020
The political class wants blood in the streets. https://t.co/2Ks9DdVDf4
— Tech Curmudgeon (@tech_faq) August 15, 2020
Despite repeated instances of left-wing violence and rioting, Squad member Ayanna Pressley calls for targeting GOP officials with “unrest in the streets.”
Biden called her “really smart.”
Does he condone her call for violence directed at Republicans?pic.twitter.com/WmHartKDDz
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) August 15, 2020
Thanks to social media spreading the word about the interview, Pressley’s call for unrest probably fell on more ears that were outraged at the congresswoman’s remarks than at Republicans “turning a deaf ear to the needs of our families and our communities.”
However, if this “unrest” is a motif of Rep. Pressley’s efforts to put pressure on the GOP, she’s assuming a certain level of culpability in what happens.
She’s not just calling for general unrest to change minds; she wants this unrest to “hold [Republicans] accountable.”
Remember those words. They’re dangerous ones.
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