The power of social media to spur compelling acts of innovative civil disobedience was on stage this week in Saudi Arabia and Belarus.
Saudi women today got behind steering wheels in defiance of the feudal kingdom’s male-only driving rules. The Associated Press reported that the women were inspired by Twitter messages such as “Saudi women, start your engines.”
There is no formal law against female drivers in Saudi Arabia, though the ban is enforced through edicts issued by the religious police. No arrests were made and the AP reported that some intrepid ladies drove by police patrols. Saudi activists promise that today’s motoring is just the beginning of the campaign to gain 21st Century rights for women, who are not allowed to vote and need permission from husbands/fathers to travel or take jobs.
Keep on driving, Saudi women.
Clapping was the preferred form of protest in Belarus for people fed up with the iron-fisted control of President Aleksandr Lukashenko.
Reuters reported that the strongman pledged to “strike hard” on protesters. On June 15, police sealed off about 1,000 demonstrators in Minsk’s Oktyabrskaya Square for the intended showdown. What was the reaction of the crowd? They stood silent and then started to clap, baffling a police force that decided not to crack heads of the rhythmic clappers.
How about some innovative social media protests here tied to bringing American troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan? Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said yesterday that he understands the resurging anti-war sentiment in D.C. Stars & Stripes quoted Gates saying, “With the exception of the first couple of years of WWII, there has never been a popular war in the U.S. in our whole history. They’ve all been controversial. And in each case, it has required the leadership of the president.”
Let’s go social media. Encourage President Obama to lead. How about a drive-around the White House to catch his attention, or a rhythmic applause festive at the White House?
Ten years is more than enough U.S. blood and treasure spent for Afghanistan/Iraq.