Confessions of a Paid Protester

Whenever I protested, others paid for it.

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I’ve been a paid protester for most of my life. Although I have had other jobs, other means of employment, paid protesting has always been my most lucrative gig. My payment has come in many different forms and from a variety of benefactors over the years. Too many to document completely but I will try to do as full an accounting as possible.

The Iraq War was the first issue my benefactors impelled me to protest. Even though my efforts against the war were ultimately unsuccessful, my benefactors paid for it anyway. Over four thousand US soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians paid with their lives. Not to mention all those displaced, their lives upended. They’re still paying for it.

When I supported LGBTQ rights, my benefactors chose to pay for it despite religious, institutional, and legal opposition. Because I am a heterosexual, it cost me nothing. Everything my benefactors paid for I already had. The right to marry, the right to be who you are, the right to be accepted. I didn’t need it but the LGBTQ community insisted they pay for it. How could I refuse?

When I spoke out for Black Lives Matter, my benefactors paid for it upfront. I was compensated by the fact that I will never have to face the discrimination, the mass incarceration, and the inordinate killings that the black men and women of this country face. Because I am white, I get a bonus. My life is apparently worth more in the eyes of our law enforcement officers and justice system.

When I protested Trump’s arbitrary and racist immigration ban, I did so at the behest of benefactors who had lost everything in civil war, famine, and in despotism. Despite their circumstances, they paid for it gladly. They are looking for a return on their investment — a chance at a better life. My ancestors made this same investment decades earlier and I reaped the benefits — with interest.

I get another bonus whenever I fight for women’s rights. These are by far my most numerous benefactors. Here they give me a raise of about 20 cents on the dollar for every dollar a woman earns. Just because I am a man. These benefactors also make it more likely that I will be in a position of power. I get better jobs, without having to deal with sexism or sexual harassment. The health benefits are great. For instance, I will never have to get an abortion. And they provide for the security of their employees like me, and as a result, I never worry about being abused or sexually assaulted.

My benefactors have been very generous.

I owe them.

No one has ever asked me to pay them back and no one required me to work for them. I could have taken all they had given me and walked away.

And they would have continued paying for it indefinitely.

But I feel compelled to settle my debts.

So as long as my benefactors continue to pay, I will be their paid protester. I never asked for this job but it’s good, steady work and I intend to fulfill my contractual obligations. It costs me nothing, and if I ever have to pay for it out of my own pocket, my benefactors have made sure I’m good for it. When there is a final accounting, and my benefactors’ investment in me is fully audited, I hope they conclude I was worth it.

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