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a little perspective please

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

PAD protesters are experiencing waning support from the business community in Thailand. Many average working people sympathize with the ideals of those who want to push the current Prime Minister from power. Many people sympathize with Thaksin, who is effectively banned from Thailand unless he returns to deal head-on with his serious legal problems. And many sympathize with the current government, which was elected after all, and struggles to rule without broad support from the citizenry, or support from the army.

One thing America has frequently done right is to demonstrate how to avoid making all suffer, while still demonstrating disdain for the current situation. The civil rights movement in the mid twentieth century was the classic social movement which strove to minimize violence and disruption of society. And it worked. Civil disobedience does not typically lead to immediate results. It also does not inflict the primary damage on the innocent working people.

I for one would have some sympathy for PAD if it were not for the events like yesterday’s shutdown of Suvarnabhumi and other previous events. The travel and tourism industry is so important to Thailand. So why is a small group of troublemakers willing to take away people’s livelihoods like this? Many hard working small businesses owners depend on tourism to feed their families and pay their mortgages.

Idealism must be tempered with an understanding of who is being hurt. Political pressure must be brought to bear on the administration, but violent takeover of national infrastructure is not acceptable.