Of all the themes hit upon in this novel, one of the ones that intrigued me the most was that of the rights of American citizens to alter or abolish our government. In a passage from Chapter 11, Marcus’s teacher, Ms. Galvez, leads a discussion on social movements in the past and present. While some of the movements she describes were peaceful or just full of pranksters, she also described the more violent or illegal actions taken by some protesters. Theft took place, and some protesters even blew up buildings. Throughout the discussions, Charles continues to insist that these people, regardless of motives or methods, are all terrorists. However, Marcus brings up an interesting point; he cites the Declaration of Independence, which states that “that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government…” (p.180). Essentially, the book is introducing an interesting argument; when are acts considered terrorism, and when are they considered a method to alter our government?
In my opinion, terrorists aim to cause fear. They destroy buildings and cause violence to try to strike fear into the hearts of people who live in a certain country, or worship a certain way, or hold a certain opinion. The acts they are taking might be an attempt to alter the government, but it is done in a way that is completely unacceptable and malicious. However, most protesters are out there because they believe there needs to be a change to the way our country works and they believe they need to speak up about it. They are out there because they believe that they have a duty to change a government that is not serving them. So if they are out there with this intent, why do authorities so often try to stop them? When the Declaration of Independence was issued, America acted on their words of abolishing a government by fighting a war. Today, though, social and political movements are being shut down for far, far less than engaging in warfare. Many movements are shut down simply because they are challenging the status quo in a way that is not deemed appropriate by local authorities. A prime example of this is the protests happening in Ferguson, MO. Even if protesters are engaging in civil disobedience, don’t they have a right to attempt to inspire change in their own government? In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln stated that America was a “government by the people, for the people”. However, now it seems that some believe our government is so important that the people can no longer change it. Basically, we are calling some of our citizen’s terrorists when all that they are doing is trying to change a system that was supposed to work for them in the first place.