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Time‘s 2011 Person of the Year is “The Protester”

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Joining an illustrious list that includes both You and Hitler, "the Protester" has been chosen as Time's 2011 Person of the Year.  And the magazine makes a good case for the selection, citing the various protests, uprisings, and revolutions of the past year in countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Spain, Greece, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S.. You might groan, because it seems like in the past few years the Person of the Year hasn't actually been one person, but Time has a long history of unconventional choices, such as "the endangered earth," "the computer," and baby boomers. But I can't think of a singular person who was truly as important this year as the many protesters who came out en masse to effect change.

And, thankfully, Time gives the most attention to the protesters in the Middle East and North Africa, who by speaking out against their governments faced dangers that those who participated in the Occupy Movement thankfully did not need to worry about. While the appraisal of all these movements is generally positive, the report isn't blind to the fact that much of the work these protesters set out to do is nowhere near finished. In fact, the article quotes several people involved in the Occupy Movement and the Arab Spring uprisings as saying that this year was only just the beginning.

The piece is a lengthy (for the internet, that is) and rather exciting read, but here is a short snippet of how the magazine frames these last twelve, dynamic months:

For a critical mass of people from Cairo to Madrid to Oakland, prospects for personal success — for the good life at the End of History that they'd been promised — suddenly looked very grim. They were fed up, and the frustration and anger exploded after the regimes overreached.

In short, 2011 was unlike any year since 1989 — but more extraordinary, more global, more democratic, since in '89 the regime disintegrations were all the results of a single disintegration at headquarters, one big switch pulled in Moscow that cut off the power throughout the system. So 2011 was unlike any year since 1968 — but more consequential because more protesters have more skin in the game. Their protests weren't part of a countercultural pageant, as in '68, and rapidly morphed into full-fledged rebellions, bringing down regimes and immediately changing the course of history.

Exciting! I will say this, though: you kind of undermine your credibility, Time, when you list Kate Middleton as a runner-up.