Questioning the ‘wisdom’ of crowds
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed yesterday. I find it amazing that Pakistan can have a female Prime Minister but a country like the US is still questioning the feasibility of a female president. But that’s not my point here.
She was assasniated. I heard it on NPR when I woke up and had a ‘That can’t be true’ reaction but as I cleared the morning head fog, I realized that it actually was true. Throughout the morning, I listened to reports of riots in Pakistan, tires burning, train stations demolished, people being shot and it got me thinking…it seems that large public displays of emotion in the form of mobs are fairly common place in many parts of the world but it’s virtually unheard of here in the US.
Think about it…we’ve all seen the CNN footage of a mob that’s either angry or elated (sometimes it’s hard to tell) and people are shooting automatic weapons in the air and dancing around and it’s utter chaos. Personally, I don’t want someone shooting an oozie in the air even if it IS my birthday.
I remember in Mexico City, there were protests in the Zocalo across from my hostel. With hindsight, I realize this was probably not the smartest idea, but at the time…I wanted to be a part of the infectious energy so I got right in the middle of everything and danced with strangers, watched empassioned speakers, and always kept watch of the military guards that were encircling the area in case things got too roudy.
You just don’t see that here! I think our biggest crowds occur in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. We’ve had a few legendary angry mobs such as the Seattle WTO riots and the LA Rodney King riots but those are definitive moments in recent American history, not the norm. I wonder why that is?
Are Americans too complacent? Too desensitized? Too…Protestant?