Protestors have blocked off a huge quadrant of midtown traffic in support of a higher minimum wage. I support their goal, not their method.— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) April 15, 2015
Soon thereafter, rightwing media picked up on his twitter mini-rant to smear #FightFor15:
Alec Baldwin shames minimum wage protesters for blocking traffic: ‘Life in NY is hard enough as is' | Washington Times
Now, keep in mind these are protestors engaging in a mass walk out to fight for 15 dollars an hour. That’s 15 dollars an hour. Or, at full time work (assuming they never get sick or plan on going on a “vacation”) just over 31,000 a year. In other words, they’re protesting to have the privilege to just barely be over the poverty line. Assuming they never get tragically ill and never have any plans on taking their children on “vacation”, they’re flooding the streets throughout the country to plead, in the most measured of ways, for some kind of dignity. Some kind of way of life. But enter Alec Baldwin, worth over $65 million, to finger wag these petulant jerks:
Life in NY is hard enough as is. The goal is to not make it more so. How does clogging rush hour traffic from 59th St to 42 do any good?— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) April 15, 2015
NY's ethos dissolves every day that individuals or groups put their needs/goals ahead of everyone else's— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) April 15, 2015
Where to start. First off, what Alec is saying here isn’t just wrong, it’s terribly cliche. It’s so cliche I actually scripted a retort for it over 5 months ago in a piece I wrote during the initial Eric Garner protests after I grew tired of hearing it over and over again from every worthless liberal who passed by #blacklivesmatter protesters in Grand Central Station (and there were a lot):
"WHAT ABOUT DISRUPTING AVERAGE PEOPLE'S LIVES?"
Who says it: Ostensibly liberal sympathizers who want to look politically engaged but are too lazy or frightened to support the protesters and need a superficially populist reason not to do so.
Why it's dumb: Simple: There hasn't been a mass protest movement about which this objection couldn't have been raised.
Blocking traffic (Mississippi 1964)
Blocking traffic (South Africa 1976)
Blocking traffic (Egypt 2011):
Blocking traffic (Ukraine 2014):
Blocking traffic (Mexico 2014):
Civil disobedience is, by definition, disobedient. Otherwise it's not civil disobedience, it's something else entirely. Indeed, the reason Martin Luther King Jr. was shot in Memphis was because he was there in support of an on going and entirely illegal sanitation strike by the city's sanitation workers that had caused garbage to pile up for months. From just days after the strike began on February 11th 1968:
No doubt, a conversation that took place at the time:
And this sums up Baldwin. What he doesn’t seem to understand - what no one who parrots this mindless trope seems to understand - is that these people are not out on the streets because they like to be. They don't enjoy it. They're out on the streets because they have no alternative. They’re out there - like #blacklivesmatter and other mass protests movement before them - disrupting the bourgeois liberal classes' daily routine, precisely so the Alec Baldwins of the world will pay attention. What #FightFor15 are doing isn’t a sport, it’s not a pastime - it’s a last resort. That nightmare we’ve all had where you’re yelling at the top of your lungs but nothing comes out? Imagine that on loop over and over again but with more chicken grease.
Baldwin complains about “inconveniencing an entire city”. Does he know how "inconvenient" it is to be one of the 4 million New Yorkers who live near or below the poverty line? Does he not know how “inconvenient” it is to sweat all day in an ugly corporate uniform while rude and often drunk idiots bark orders at you while your equally-overworked middle manager watches your every moment. Does he know how “inconvenient” it is to work your ass off for a $300 check?
Peace without justice, as Martin Luther King understood, is not a virtue, it’s simply violence in slow motion. Just the same, the "normal routine" of New York “inconveniences” a lot of people. Indeed, every day millions of better-off New Yorkers like Baldwin put their “needs/goals” above “everyone” else's by ignoring the struggling poverty classes in this city like they would a fruit fly. The rich routinely, by their sheer ambivalence, “inconvenience” the working poor. #FightFor15 wishes to alter this through direct action. #FightFor15 courageously walks out of their jobs - risking termination and retaliation - not because they seek to harm or seek to inconvenience. They walk off their jobs and occupy streets because the establishment liberal class that Baldwin represents has failed them, leaving them no choice but to disrupt the normal order of things. It would do idle gasbags like Baldwin a lot of good to understand this fact - and ask how they can help - rather than mouth off and undermine their righteous charge on Twitter.