I was asked the other night what I’d like to leave behind in 2011. I fudged the answer. Here’s the real one.
I’d like to leave behind masked protest.
However you feel about the British Government, we do still have the right to protest – and we don’t need to hide behind Guy Fawkes masks, black balaclavas or Arab-style bandanas. In fact, everyone that does probably makes it easier for the government to limit future freedom to protest. Hiding your face plays into the hands of the people who try to confuse legal protest with illegal trouble. It gives the people with power the perfect opportunity to use it.
And of course we can’t complain about people in power hiding – behind confidentiality or commerciality – while we hide as well.
Our masking up also insults the people protesting in real dictatorships who do need to hide their face for fear of their life. They’d be pleased to have the rights we have.
If you have a belief, you should be proud enough of it to be seen to support it. Masking up weakens trust and without trust you don’t have authority. This, of course, applies to riot Police who wear balaclavas under their NATO helmets as well as the people on the other side of the line.
In 2012, wherever you stand, stand up for what you believe, please.