Friday, October 26

Question/Open Thread on protest

Is this the best way to protest the war? I love me some Code Pink, specially their in your face activism for peace, believe me.

But I worry about creating sympathy for the lead spokesman of the bloody war criminal/PNAC'ers who run this country and who have picked a Black petite cultured manicured mouthpiece for just that reason.

Open thread on this and how can we subvert the paradigm effectively below.


  1. Condi is just as dirty as the rest of 'em.
    I think it was awesome imagery.

  2. I'm so conflicted!

    On one hand, I understand the need to shake people out of their complacency through drastic means like this.

    On the other hand, such measures (as you pointed out) often do backfire.

    I read a piece of writing some years back on this very same matter called Bumper Sticker Logic, Isn't, wherein the author essentially said these sort of theatrics were ultimately counter-productive.

    I'd opt for something quick and decisive because people grow weary of any sort of protracted fight and/or war. This is why Iraq has floated into the background in the news recently.

    If there were a way to get inside the conscious-stream of every human being and shake them out of their delirium, that would be the most successful strategy.

  3. As a rule,I think one should avoid actions which provoke any sympathy for the target in anyone,and prefer actions which make the target seem ridiculous.

  4. As is often the case, I am in agreement with my friend Comrade Kevin.

    While I think that the more outrageous acts gain attention, sometimes it is not the attention that we need, but we need action and change.

    Sadly, in this country, "polite" behavior (I can't easily forgive Nancy for her lame act making Pete Stark apologize) passes for a lot.

    While that may piss me off more than I can say- and it does- I also know this... When I want my way I have to find ways to get it.

    And sometimes that means not being so in the face about it.

    It is about a kind of subversion that is not so obvious.

    I am not sure that what I say makes any sense, but I think it is about impacting change at a more constant and deeper level.

    Which, if I knew how to do, I'd be doing right now.

    Great idea for a thread BG. Thanks.

  5. Anonymous4:57 PM

    When you are dealing with a fascist regime doing anything to break their aura of authority is good.

    Did you read that FEMA held a last minute news conference on the So Cal fires and the reporters asking the questions were actually FEMA staff? (WaPo)

    We are through the looking glass and speaking, or confronting, Truth to Power is not counter productive it is empowering.


  6. I agree wholeheartedly with FranIam. It's not always about doing what you want, it's getting what you want. There's a difference.

    If you want the war to end, you have to figure out a way to get our 'leaders' to embrace that concept and run with it.

    If you want publicity that will only serve to piss off a significant portion of the populace, and -- worse yet -- enrage the leadership, then do what the blood-on-her-hands lady did.

    It was cute but not effective. Even more impactful with respect to that encounter was the terribly slow reaction to the protester and -- even more pathetic -- the ease with which she made contact with Rice.

    Atrocious security for Ms Rice. She should hire Amazon's Bezos' security staff.

  7. More questions about this episode. The police pulled another woman out of the audience without *apparent* cause. They took her by the upper arm and she immediately started yelling "Ow! You're hurting me!"

    Now I'm a fairly educated, definitely liberal woman. And I saw that part of the episode as two people doing what they were trained to do: the cop removing potential protesters on the lowest possible pretense in a manner in keeping with training that would NOT allow for charges of injury to the arrested. But again, on the lowest possible pretense that she was a threat to anyone or anything at that meeting. And the woman loudly complaining about police brutality, which came across to this liberal educated woman who is definitely sympathetic to her cause as transparent agitprop hogwash. I say that well aware that the Capitol Police broke Reverend Yearwood's ankle earlier this fall.

    Keep the discussion coming, folks, I'm fascinated by the different approaches here.

  8. i guess it is a matter of what defines "over the top". is waving a red stained hands "over the top". it is clearly not as aggressive as splashing a bucket of pigs blood on condi. that would definitely be over the top.

    i noted the comment about challenging a fascist regime.... there is some merit to that.

    one of the republicans most effective strategies is putting "authority" off limits for criticism. while we liberal democrats were not allowed to criticize the preznit lest it be treason, not allowed to criticize the war or war policies and practice of this republican administration, lest it be treasonable non-support for the troops, any manner of slander and ridicule should be suffered with grace and no outrage.

    we experienced swift-boating of a decorated combat veteran who was our presidential candidate in the last election, and watched the ridicule and political defeat of another incumbent combat veteran who had lost three limbs in vietnam.... yet we were ridiculed for challenging the unseemly circumstances by which Dubya evaded combat duty during the height of the vietnam war.

    i think we should be careful about what weapons we choose not to use.... the success of modern republicanism (movement conservativism) is largely due to the fact that it has gone unchallenged.... and there is nothing autocrats fear more than in-your-face challenges from real Americans. You will note Reagans historic commandment to "never speak ill of another republican"..... the corollary was to suppress all challenge to republicanism from any sector, because it (conservativism) was the true, the patriotic voice of America. to challenge the republicans was turned into treason.... i draw the line at the bucket of pigs blood.

    The American People understand all the rest..... they understand the red right hand of the republican party must be stayed.....

  9. here are two additional vignettes that i feel dramatize the awakening of liberal democrats to the threat of modern republicanism:

    Little Shop of  Horrors

    You Don't Know What You're Messin' With

  10. This, among other things, inspired a cross post. Come on over if you wish.

  11. Comrade Kevin is a student of history, and as such he has examined how easy is to stereotype the truth-to-power sorts as merely uncouth rabble and to win elections based on "law and order"--see Nixon in 1968.

    The problem with speaking truth to power is the same problem that has faced any revolution. A small core group of committed activists have enough intelligence and wiles to fend off serious institutional challenges without resorting to all-out anarchy.

    When the masses jump on the bandwagon, they have a tendency to pervert needed, well-thought-out change into destructive acts like riots and general mayhem--those things really DO create a backlash.

    By all mean, call the hand of the Rethugs--but (and this is a big BUT) do it in socially responsible ways. Working from within the system and beating the bosses at their own game is the only way for it to work.

    Part of the reluctance for this current Administration to engage people in open debate stems from he fact that open forums were so successfully utilized by lefties back in the days of Vietnam.

    Activists routinely embarrased Administration figures by showing they knew more about protocol and important issues then their supposed elected representatives did.

    That, to me, is what it's going to take again. Though it might be tempting to throw a chair through a plate glass window, our battles will need to be fought through brains, not brawn.


    Look under "Republican" and you can see the exact TV spot ads effectively utilized by Nixon and George Wallace in 1968.

  13. It is good imagery and certainly got Code Pink media attention, but I feel as though it was a little over the top. As a San Franciscan, I have been in awe of Medea Benjamin, one of the founders of Code Pink, for a long time. But there are times when I question her organization's tactics, and this is one of those times.

  14. Anonymous7:53 PM

    BG -
    The Code Pink people were interviewed on KPFA (Pacifica) here in the bay area. They did not know one of their members was going to do that.
    In the interview, the spokesperson said that one of their members ended up in the hospital with some sort of broken/sprained limb after that.

    Was it effective? That’s hard to say. I think in the great populace, the Iraq war is already a decided issue and no one is going to be swayed any longer. The lines in the sand (sorry) are already drawn.

    But here’s the thing: the democrats watched probably the most powerful woman in the administration get confronted, and embarrassed in public. Do you think that they did not take note that if it could happen to Condi, it could happen to them?

    I’ve reached the conclusion (sadly) that the folks who need to be convinced to end the war are the Democrats. And if this Code Pink event made any dent in their minds about how loathed the Bushies and their enablers are, it might change them into taking some decisive action.



  15. Anonymous9:29 PM

    I agree with Comrade Kevin and Star Dragon the Canadian about choosing one's acts and not encouraging sympathy for the intended target. Before I read Comrade Kevin say it, I thought, these people need to beaten at their own game. They've held the reins, for far too long. It's time for people to stand up and find ways to fight back, without being branded traitors.

  16. Anonymous9:29 PM

    I suppose the right or wrong way to protest depends largely on the circumstances, but I do have an observation that I can't think of ever having played out untrue(of course, I only have half a brain left so I may just be forgetting any examples).

    Single or small groups of protesters vs a single target often generate more sympathy for the target as in this case.

    However, when protests are large and not targeted at a person actually present, the flow usually goes with the large group as long as they aren't violent.

    I suppose it's the same thing that makes hand-to-hand combat so personal and visceral while "wars" are a little more digestible for people because they are more abstract.

    Or not. Take yer pick.

  17. Anonymous9:47 PM

    Large protests were often effective, I think, during the War in Vietnam. Recently, in Western countries, police, representing governments, have infiltrated a few of these protests with their own people, disguised as the protestors, and armed, in order to create a riot, that would result in peaceful protestors being assaulted, arrested, and discredited, all at the same time. One of those places was in Quebec, Canada, summer, 2007--shocking (to me) but true.

  18. Nonviolent, 'shocking' actions are needed to cut through the torpor of fear and complacency exhibited by the mass.

    They stimulate dialog, create awareness, and force contrast within the mind of the observer.

    A similar action involved protesters throwing blood into the White House fountain during Gulf War I.

    Both demos work to call attention toward the end result of the actions taken in the name of the people by those who purport to lead...Forcing them at last, perhaps, to entertain the questions: 'Is this what I want?', 'Is the path we are on truly for the greatest good?' and 'Have I been lied to all along?'

  19. Anonymous11:39 PM

    By the bye, comic on Royal Canadian Air Farce tonight recalled that recently Condoleeza Rice affirmed that the U.S. mishandled the Maher Arar "case", but she would keep him on the "no fly" list--and Maher Arar will keep her on the Ugly American list.

  20. "Well, considering that democracy didn't work and public opinion no longer means anything, perhaps the only thing left to do is to constantly disrupt Washington." Who has paid any attention to the large peace marches?

    Only angry people can keep the government (ANY government, not just ours) from rolling over them and their freedoms. Angry can't always be cute or pretty. So, instead of kissing the rings of your senators when they come to your town for a town meeting, get angry and remind them who they work for.

    Power is a corrupting force, and if you don't remind government officials that they are NOT demi-gods, they will forget and act like they are.

  21. Anonymous11:02 AM

    The idea that we need to act in a civil manner is a romantic approach to politics. As a student and participant of political history, I do not remember when politics was ever a non-contact sport. This idealist notion is the reason for the impotent Democrats, who think if they merely wait until 08 they can regain powder. Meanwhile more human lives are lost, families are torn apart and powerful interest groups continue to make obscene amounts of money from the war.

    I have worked as a political advance man, and had the honor to work for one of the classiest US Senators on the hill. He always carried himself with great dignity but was never under the illusion that powerful groups will always use any means possible to get what they want. When need be, he was an excellent bare knuckle fighter.

    So I applaud anyone who will take a stand for their beliefs, even if it means getting in the face of powerful people.


  22. Anonymous6:13 PM

    I think Organic George is right. The Democrats need to go beyond taking a stand, something they don't seem to be doing right now. They need to take some risks. Doing next to nothing is a different kind of risk, a very big one, while democracy and all that comes with it keeps "slip, slip, slidin' away".

  23. There are so many things the public needs to be reminded of, so many points that need to be made... and this person had a precious moment of media time... and blew it. With a dumb stunt that just gives Bill-O more fodder.

    Besides, even as an attack it failed! I mean, come ON! You get that close to Rice, it's time for a little extemporaneous dentistry. How can you NOT use your knuckles to try to straighten those choppers?


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