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War of the Worlds: Coming to a City Near You

A panicked driver moved through an angry mob of protesters yesterday in Brea, California, an Orange County city just outside of Los Angeles.

Those hundreds of protesters stormed the streets on Thursday to plea for GOP Representative Ed Royce's sympathy on the matter of their temporary protected immigration status.

The video shows 56-year-old Daniel Wenzek of Brea pressing slowly through the crowd of enraged protesters who wielded drumsticks and fists, slapping his vehicle as he gradually rolled through the intersection. 

One woman even leapt upon his vehicle in an attempt to prevent the driver from continuing through the intersection. 



Video coverage of this event shows increasing numbers of protesters surrounding this man's vehicle as it became clear that he intended to make his way through the crowd.

The woman who leapt upon his vehicle recounts the experience:

“My only thought is that I just want him to stop. I’m like, if I just jump on the car, he’s going to stop. He did stop, thank God, because if he didn’t stop, he would [have] run over a lot of people that [were] crossing the street. It was so quick.”

The videographic evidence, however, suggests otherwise, as there were apparently no further groups beyond that thin line of protestors.



The response of the driver has become the subject of popular debate, as social media has whipped into a frenzy to either scold or support him.

Of course, very few among us have ever been placed under such circumstances, so any speculation is met with an astonishing dearth of real-world experience to support it. 

In fact, this scene brings another to mind from the 2005 sci-fi thriller with Tom Cruise, War of the Worlds, in which another group of protestors bids for a place in Cruise's van. 

Cruise, with co-stars Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin, moves slowly through a mass of desperate protesters slapping the car and throwing glass bottles.

In this anxiety-fueling scene, the audience squirms and helplessly prays that the protagonists will survive the onslaught of unreasoning and uncivil malefactors.

The scene suddenly comes to an end when Cruise, after noticing a woman and her baby in his path, veers violently toward the curb into a utility pole.

At this time, some or most of the audience will have justifiably reached the conclusion that Cruise and his on-set children would have been manifestly better off if they had just wholly disregarded the wellbeing of the protesters, continuing through the crowd toward safety.

However, this belief system is somehow lost on those who, well-intentioned in spirit, fail to sympathize with the beleaguered driver in this real-world scenario.

For this man, the event is a classic exhibition of the fight-or-flight response within a potential life-or-death situation.

Of course, many will argue that the pedestrians benefit from statutory right-of-way, while others claim the same for the driver.

Another batch of arguments focuses upon the perceived alternatives for that driver, while conveniently suspending this point of view when considering the same for the protesters.

However, what is not necessarily known is whether the driver could have just as easily avoided this intersection.

And even despite this, the driver has still driven down a road purposefully intended for such use, while the protesters have convened there precisely for its perceived disruption to the commons.

It is for this reason that protesters seldom organize in desolate areas, for their intentions are far beyond anything remotely blending into the status quo; indeed they intend to deliberately interfere with the very comforts which the average individual enjoys, in attempt to bolster their ranks, force acquiescence or expose the human weaknesses of their opponents. 

These arguments, and ones predicated upon the letter of the law, are virtually irrelevant to a pure understanding of the circumstances which here include one set of human beings promoting a personal political interest and an individual carefully moving through them to escape their protest.

Under those circumstances, the driver and his car become a figurative half-pipe for the protestors to execute their tricks and leverage his reaction to their own political gain.

The surrounding army of protesters is positioned to use any harvestable excuse to apply their physical exclamation marks to the event, making it memorable and impossible to ignore.

Meanwhile the driver, whose intentions seemed relatively innocuous based upon the tepid speed of his car, appeared to have far more ordinary motives, maybe going home or returning to work.

Indeed, this driver seems to mirror the approach employed by Cruise in this very scene, exercising caution as he continues through the determined and unpredictable horde of people who are seemingly willing to do anything and everything to get their point across.

Ultimately, the armchair observer can always academically speculate as to the appropriate action under any given set of circumstances, yet any such interpretation operates from the naturally limited position of having not been present in the proverbial driver's seat at the time. 

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