Strategic organizing to end the war.

By Mike Edera of Scappoose, Oregon. Mike is a landscaper and an activist with the Rural Organizing Project.

"Strategy-free activism" is a term coined by the late-great activist Judy Bari. The worst example of strategy-free activism I have ever seen was provided by a band of mask-wearing 'revolutionaries' carrying an 'F the Troops' banner in a big Portland peace march.

By contrast, the best recent example of strategic activism was Cindy Sheehan's protest outside of Bush's Crawford dude-ranch. Before a national press corps stuck covering the President's summer vacation, she contrasted her condition as the grieving mother of a soldier-son killed in Iraq with Bush's feckless month-long West Texas siesta. Her example galvanized peace vigils across the country, re-launched the anti-war movement, linking it to the suffering of soldiers and their families.

The wave of peace vigils and local anti-war activities inspired by Cindy Sheehan has rolled on for over 80 weeks, though you'd never know about it from the mainstream media. The Rural Organizing Project compiled a list of over forty vigils happening regularly in rural Oregon alone - who knows what the number is nationally?

A year ago Rural Organizing Project activists began thinking about how to leverage the local peace work happening in small towns across the state. How could these individual actions combine to create a bigger effect, and what was the most appropriate target for activism? Out of many discussions came the ROP's Cost of War campaign.

We decided to include a common demand in our local activities: that our Congress people and Senators give an accounting of the real costs of the Iraq occupation. We reasoned that elected federal officials had the means and a duty to make sure all their constituents understood how much the war has cost, and what services were sacrificed to pay for it. As part of the Cost of War campaign we called on our Congress people to hold Iraq Town Halls in their districts. We made this demand via petition, and also in person whenever we could attend a meeting with a Representative or Senator.

We soon noticed that, while none of the Congressional delegation agreed to hold special Iraq Town Halls, they did became more vocal on the occupation and began to include the term 'cost of war' in their public statements.

However, by August of '06 we were tired of waiting for the politicians to act. The ROP staff formally invited the Congressional delegation to Iraq Town Halls that we would organize ourselves in each Congressional District. In December, after elections that brought Democrats to power in DC on a wave of anti-war sentiment, we set Town Hall dates for the February Congressional recess, anticipating the upcoming vote on a massive $240 billion appropriation to continue the Iraq occupation. No Representative or Senator agreed to attend, but Reps David Wu, Darlene Hooley, and Peter DeFazio committed to send staff.

Town Halls happened in four of five Congressional districts between February 16 and 24:

In Redmond (Rep Greg Walden, District 2), 175 people crowded into the Redmond Community Center. In Lincoln City (Rep Darlene Hooley, District 5) 125 people attended. In Roseburg, 125 people turned out (Peter DeFazio, District 4). At all the meetings, military families and returning vets spoke, including the mother of Suzanne Swift, who refused orders to return to Iraq.

I attended the Forest Grove Town Hall (Rep David Wu, District 1), where 200 people filled Taylor Auditorium on the Pacific University campus. Former Air Force photographer Tina Bean, recently returned from Iraq and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome addressed the crowd:

"I haven't seen a single one of my friends since I've been home, because I don't want them to see me like this," she said, fighting tears. "I can't look at myself in the mirror without feeling disgusted. I feel like I'm broken into a million pieces. I'll never be the person I was."

By organizing these assemblies we achieved the first goal of the campaign: to bring local anti-war groups together in coalitions centered in Congressional Districts and focused on community outreach as a means to pressure elected officials.

Each Town Hall was organized by the local ROP Human Dignity Groups and allies. Testimonies were solicited from within the communities where we live. This met our second goal: to expand the outreach of local groups and highlight the cost of war for our neighbors, bringing in new people.

Did we meet our third goal of influencing our Congress people and Senators to vote against the Iraq appropriation, and to take the lead in explaining the cost of war to their constituents? None of them attended. Some held their own pre-screened events to coincide with our grassroots assemblies.

On the other hand, all Representatives and Senators are now aware that anti-war activists are creating coalitions in each Congressional District, that we are including into our protests the type of targeted political action that has historically succeeded in re-shaping the political landscape, whether to the left or the right.

We are in for a long struggle to get Congress people and Senators to vote down funding for the occupation - a vote that will effectively end the war. We will need to be imaginative. The goal should be to create a relentless, non-violent political force capable of rewarding friends and punishing enemies.

As someone explained to me during the Town Hall in Rep Wu's District: 'We need to push hard - even on those who agree with us - to make sure they keep coming our way.'

For more information, or to get involved, visit the Rural Organizing Project.

Comments

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Greg Walden, representing the agriculture and timber industries in Oregon's 2nd District, refused to meet with six women from Code Pink, so they held a sit-in at Walden's Bend office. The story is at http://www.ktvz.com/story.cfm?nav=news&storyID=18883

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    Normally I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories. Given the choice between assuming brilliancy on the part of would-be conspirators and absolute idiocy beyond all belief (think Bush ignoring all the 9/11 warnings) - you really got to go with stupidity every time.

    But I'm wondering. Who exactly are these mask-wearing jokers, anyway? They couldn't have more effectively punctured the efforts of the 200,000 other protesters if they'd tried.

    So does anybody know who they are? Where they hold their meetings? What they were thinking?

    Just asking.

  • Joe12Pack (unverified)
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    Here's one explanation: Anarchists

    Don't knock 'em. They're just doing their part to keep Portland weird. See Portland Indymedia to further familiarize yourself with this bunch and some of their cohorts.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Normally I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories.

    But you would do well to consider the probability that conspiracies by the military-industrial complex to promote war are valid.

    Who exactly are these mask-wearing jokers, anyway? They couldn't have more effectively punctured the efforts of the 200,000 other protesters if they'd tried.

    I'm normally not that enthused with theatrics at protests, but they do occasionally wake up otherwise comatose people. And, on a number of occasions they were spreading a message that some of us were too slow to recognize.

  • Schizzle (unverified)
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    "Strategic organizing to end the war."

    I don't see an end to this war because it's based on Islamic Fundamentalism.

    Time will tell. We'll see when a Dem is POTUS, if the 'war' stops. I don't think it will, as the hatred is rooted in Islamic Fund. religion.

  • Buckman Res (unverified)
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    The worst example of strategy-free activism I have ever seen was provided by a band of mask-wearing 'revolutionaries' carrying an 'F the Troops' banner in a big Portland peace march.

    That was actually exceeded when the same group burned an American soldier in effigy on the South Park Blocks, images of which have been widely circulated on the Internet.

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    Bill I'm normally not that enthused with theatrics at protests, but they do occasionally wake up otherwise comatose people.

    When, pray tell, do they ever do that? Let's put the shoe on the other foot for a second, are you persuaded by gigantic grisly photographs of aborted fetuses? Or Anne Coulter calling John Edwards a faggot?

    Do you feel "woken up" or utterly repulsed?

    The larger point that Democrats have been able to make over the last two weeks with the Coulter thing was that it wasn't just Coulter herself. When she spewed her bile, hundreds of Conservatives cheered. She leads a movement that all Americans should properly revile.

    Don't let us be the people making excuses for burning an American flag and an American soldier in effigy.

  • YoungOregonVoter (unverified)
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    The war will not stop because the current Democratic majority in Congress is afraid of being branded in the same light as George McGovern was in the Vietnam War. This is evident in them going after non-issues such as the 8 political appointees that were dismissed by GW.

    The fact that Dems are going after Gonzales because of the 8 political appointees who serve and leave at the President's beckon call shows just how scared they are. They don't want to be branded as soft on national security, hence they divert the media's attention from mountains to molehills.

    If I was a liberal Democrat right now, I would be steaming at this failure of a Congress lead by Pelosi. Where is the change that you said the American people voted for in November 2006 Pelosi?!

    All I see is the same ole' political posturing while the real issues such as the War in Iraq, Social Security, Medicare, health care, and a host of other issues take a back seat to trying to embarass Bush because ya'll don't have the balls to shut down the Federal Government by not passing a budget to end the Iraq War.

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    It's "beck and call," and I don't exactly call obstruction of justice by Members of Congress, the Justice Department and the White House to be a non-story.

    Hard to argue that the House isn't currently falling short of their mandateon Iraq, though.

  • Amy Dudley (unverified)
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    Rural Women Arrested While Waiting for Walden to Commit to End Iraq War Funding

    Photos, Full Story, and Media Links

    KTVZ Live Coverage of Sit In and Arrest 3-20-07

    KTVZ Follow Up Interview 3-21-07

  • pedro (unverified)
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    youngvoter,

    i am not here to defend the democrats handling of the iraq war issue (though the blame primarily goes to the blue dog caucus, and steny hoyer, not pelosi), however, it's a mistake to simply write off the the whole fired justices issue as simply an excuse to hide from 'the real issues' (interesting that you include the social security non-issue in that category). bush has made very clear that he is going to do whatever he wants, no matter what congress passes. this is not about embarrassing bush, it is significant step forward in our current constitutional crisis. today the senate approved the subpoenas, and the white house is claiming that the executive branch "is under no compulsion to testify to Congress, because Congress in fact doesn't have oversight ability". so you still think that's just about embarrassing bush?

  • YoungOregonVoter (unverified)
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    Torrid,

    How can the Democrats carry out justice when they are not watchdogging themselves? Lets not forget about that waste of space called William Jefferson, Democrat Representative from Louisiana, who was found with 90k in his freezer. How about going after good ole' William Jefferson? Once their house is in order, then I agree full heartedly with you in going after Bush for obstruction of justice.

    Pedro,

    First, how is Social Security a non-issue? As far as the oversight issue is concerned, how will Democrats respond to the charge that they cannot issue a subpoena for Gonzales or White House officials because they are "national security advisors" in the War on Terror? Lets not forget that executive privilege applies to national security and bet your bottom dollar Bush will raise the issue of national security and designate Rove and his other advisors as "national security advisors." That is where the water gets murky.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    From Steven: Bill I'm normally not that enthused with theatrics at protests, but they do occasionally wake up otherwise comatose people.

    When, pray tell, do they ever do that? Let's put the shoe on the other foot for a second, are you persuaded by gigantic grisly photographs of aborted fetuses? Or Anne Coulter calling John Edwards a faggot?

    Steven: You seem to have ignored the word "occasionally" in my comment and chose to convert my statement to "anything goes" which is a gross distortion. I find your suggested examples just as offensive as you apparently do. If I recall correctly there were theatrics in Seattle prior to the WTO conference a few years ago. They did not go overboard like some anti-abortionists or Coulter, but they were ahead of many people who weren't paying attention then but are now. Prior to Seattle, theatrics were used reasonably well in anti-nuclear parades. To use your "shoe" metaphor, theatrics don't come in one style or size. They have varying degrees of quality - some good, some bad.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    The only practical strategy for ending the war is to elect a President in two years who will end it. We elected Bush in 2004 (at least nominally) and we are stuck with the results.

    It should come as no great shock that Congress is not willing to shut off funding and in the process take the blame for the outcome. The real danger is that any Democrat who gets elected will have that same political dilemma. Withdraw and get the blame or, as happened with Nixon and Vietnam, continue the war while trying to negotiate some sort of withdrawal.

    The focus needs to be on vetting the Presidential candidates not on their position - all of them will want to end the war - but on their willingness to actually make the decision to pull the plug.

    What is needed now is to portray the current "surge" as a last ditch effort to create a stable country capable of defending itself before Bush leaves office. And then elect a President who will pledge to start bringing the troops home the day they take office.

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    You mean the people who rioted and vandalized a bunch of Starbucks, Bill? That kind of "theatrics"?

    And why do you think that would be viewed more favorably by the public than Coulter's tantrum, which despite all her hate filled bile, boiled down to mere juvenile namecalling?

    Someone needs to get a message through to these "anarchist" jackasses that they're not welcome to associate themselves with progressive causes. Because they're not helping any of the causes they pretend to support. They're hurting them. Badly.

  • gt (unverified)
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    [Ranting deleted. -editor.]

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Steven:You mean the people who rioted and vandalized a bunch of Starbucks, Bill? That kind of "theatrics"?

    No, I don't mean the people who rioted and vandalized. My understanding from people who were there was that was caused by people out for trouble which was a very small percentage of the protestors and that some people performing theatrically were completely innocent.

    Since you appear determined to label all people participating in theatrics according to the behavior of some practicing unacceptable behavior, I find further discussion on this topic pointless. Having attended an event in Salem organized by some very nice people in the Rural Organizing Project that used theatrics in a non-violent and legal way, I resent your implication that all people using theatrics are some form of uncivilized creatures.

  • mik edera (unverified)
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    Ending the Iraq war will be complex because, unlike Vietnam which was about NOTHING, Iraq is about OIL. The US energy policy is to put boots on the ground in the Middle East, and Democrats and Republicans know this. The purpose of my above piece was to argue that the first step is to create an independent anti-war movement, not tied to political parties, but effectively organized as an implacable force. The ROP suggests that Congressional Districts are good templates for this independent force, because it allows peace activists to think in terms of politics and political action, instead of personal witness, moral indignation, and anger (as important as those emotions are). An independent anti-war movement will need to intervene in elections, local, congressional, presidential. But we should not fold ourselves into campaigns as part of the Democratic Party. If Democrats want our help, we need to make them deal with us like they deal with the labor movement, or the GOP deals with the NRA. To those who argue that electing a new President is the way to end the war - can you say "Salvadore Allende'? Without an independent force, a peace president would be meat.

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    I'm sorry if I misunderstood what you meant, but it was very easy to do. This topic is about about a bunch of bratty anarchists - who effectively destroyed the messaging of all the other Peace marchers. Then you bring up the Seattle WTO marches where a nearly identical thing happened - bratty anarchists screwing hundreds of thousands of people out of their messaging. What was I supposed to think you meant?

    But even if we're talking about street-theater, I really don't think it's persuasive to people who aren't already persuaded. Mainly for the reason that they're not looking. I just wish half of the people who go on a peace parade would do the hard work of going out canvassing with their local Democratic party, or Getting On the Bus. Conversations on people's doorsteps have been proven to change minds. Dramatizations that nobody but the already 80% Democratic Portlanders have a chance of seeing, don't.

  • GT (unverified)
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    [Rant deleted. Greg Tompkins, you are no longer authorized to access this blog. Violations of the Oregon Computer Crime Law ORS 164.377 will be reported to the authorities. We're not kidding. -editor.]

  • ws (unverified)
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    "our way or the highway". That never worked for me, but I see a lot of that kind of thinking in comments above. People do all kinds of things with the flag, yet the principle survives. It might be nauseous and offensive to some people, but burning flags, effigies, or parading cruel photos of aborted babies always tells something important to those who do not retreat to self-indulgent ignorance.

    I don't know too much about Rural Organizing Project, but grass-roots response outside of conventional political formats are very important, and at any rate, inevitable. They may not appear very effective from certain points of view, but that's no surprize.

    You can be all polite and politically PC going around door to door, obeying police orders to stay in the little cage they set up to contain you in your own city during demonstrations, but who do those kinds of actions really wake up? In D.C. things just grind away the same as always.

    That's when your little friends with the masks come out of the woodwork. They're weary of the inert nature of political officiaries, wounded and outraged at the inhumanity that this body can acclimatize itself to. Their efforts may be too easily dismissed as juvenile antics of troublemakers representing a very small minority of U.S. citizens. Better keep checking. The handwriting is on the wall.

  • Pat Malach (unverified)
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    self-indulgent ignorance ... ...is one of the best ways to describe the cowardly acts of masked attention-seekers who are afraid to take responsibity for their silly acts of vandalism and angst-driven defiance, which are not only completely and wholly innefectual, but counter-productive to boot.

    They can delude themselves into thinking they're doing something for society, but for the masksed marauders, it's all about feeding their own damn egos and delusions of grandeur.

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    Great to see you out here on Blue O, Mike. Hope that you keep posting occasionally and thanks for the more "in depth" look at the ladies in Bend.

    <hr/>

    When this happened a while back with the Smith office in Portland, some commenters thought that protester refusal to observe the normal routines that our servants have set up for access to their August Personages, negated protester efforts.

    It's my understanding that the Bend Gurlz did in fact go through a bunch of rigamarole to no effect, and so took action.

    Good on them............

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    If I was a liberal Democrat right now, I would be steaming at this failure of a Congress lead by Pelosi. Where is the change that you said the American people voted for in November 2006 Pelosi?!

    Lets see...the 110th Congress first met on Jan. 10th. They've been in Washington for a little over 2 1/2 months and you've already branded them a failure? You certainly are a young voter. Yes they have a mandate on Iraq but I've said this before. They can't defund the troops. It will not happen. You don't want them to defund the troops because if the Democrats do it then the Republicans will win in a big way come 2008 and all this change we all fought for from 2004-2006 will have been completely wasted. I could get into details here on why the Dems would get wiped if the defunded troops in a theatre of war but I think it should speak to itself. We're in a 2 party system and the green party or whatever 3rd party has virtually no chance to win. Its a big worthless fight because no matter what the Dems don't have a super majority in the Senate to override Bush's veto. Won't even see the floor of the Senate because the Repubs can filibuster it. I don't know if blaming the Congress for not wasting their time on something THAT HAS NOT A PRAYER IN THE WORLD of passing is fair. Please take a govt. class so that you understand how our govt. works.

  • Dan Petegorsky (unverified)
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    Political movements have always struggled with the question of how to escalate tactics when existing methods have seemingly failed to yield intended results. Mike is arguing for a more strategic and deliberate focus on building power, while others are justifying the tactics of the “anarchists” as a necessary wake-up call.

    Though it’s possible to explain the anarchists’ tactics as emerging from frustration, that doesn’t in and of itself make them any more strategic or effective. Polls show that the large majority of the country is also fed up with Congressional inaction. But how do these tactics cement that frustration into effective action? Are people watching supposed to be spurred themselves to rush out in the streets and trash their own local targets? To what effect? Mass insurrection?

    In the past, groups demonstrating such tactics in the U.S. have been very heavily infiltrated by Federal agents, who have played the role of provocateurs precisely to undermine social movements and produce just these kinds of fissures. That’s not invoking “conspiracy theories,” it’s history.

    What the contemporary movement has not yet produced at any real scale is the strategic use of the tactics of nonviolence. I’m speaking here of tactics that, like those of the anarchists, are ultimately intended to reveal the violence of the state or the opposition and provoke an outraged response that galvanizes the movement’s potential allies into action. Not, however, by provoking that violence by outlandish behavior, but by demonstrating the fundamental dignity of the cause in the face of the callous violence of the opposition.

    It’s one thing for the armchair viewer to see the full force of the state or hate mongers brought on by people just doing what any human being has the right to do: sit down at a lunch counter to have a meal; ride a bus; go to school; walk across a bridge; attend a prayer service or a funeral; get married. It’s another to see police going after people running through the streets throwing rocks through store windows. The former provokes an intended moral crisis for those who may have been on the fence. The latter leaves those fence-sitters further alienated, thinking the protesters got what they deserved.

  • Phil Jones (unverified)
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    The masked protesters who burned the soldier in effigy and the U.S. Flag at last weekend's peace march should not be thought of as representative of the rest of the marchers any more than the U.S. Soldiers who murdered the Iraqis in Haditha represent the rest of our armed forces. This point should be made every time someone tries to lump all war protesters in the same group as the anarchists.

  • BOHICA (unverified)
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    What the contemporary movement has not yet produced at any real scale is the strategic use of the tactics of nonviolence. -Dan Petegorsky

    Exactly! There has been some small activities using non-violence e.g at the Bangor sub base here in the NW. In Portland there are no military installations that could be targeted for similar action. All we have are Senator's offices in secure buildings and recruiting offices. If there were some place that was of importance here in PDX maybe organized sit-ins etc. could happen.

    The black block advocates violent tactics, something I can never support. They always want to strike back. If they just laid down and refused to move they might get more support. But they have to carry pipes and such.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Dan Petegorsky and Phil Jones: Well said.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    The former provokes an intended moral crisis for those who may have been on the fence. The latter leaves those fence-sitters further alienated, thinking the protesters got what they deserved.

    If there were some place that was of importance here in PDX maybe organized sit-ins etc. could happen.

    This point should be made every time someone tries to lump all war protesters in the same group as the anarchists.

    The difficulty here is that there are plenty of people who think breaking the law is wrong, whether the protest is violent or not. You will hear the same "they are doing more harm than good" argument from people who believe that lobbying and electoral work are the only legitimate or effective methods of changing public policy.

    As I said above, at this point the effort to end the war ought to be focused almost entirely on the 2008 election. The issue is well beyond the point where civil-disobedience or even non-violent protests are appropriate tactics. They serve a useful purpose primarily as morale boosters for the real work that needs to be done.

    The other difficulty is that I doubt the anarchists are just trying to end the war. They see the war as just the current manifestation of a larger problem. And that problem, as they define it, is not going to be fixed by persuading middle-class folks in their armchairs to support the cause. And, like the people who are marching, they are using their tactics as both a public statement and a morale booster for the real work they think is needed.

    Now, as a practical matter, you can disagree with their politics, doubt that they will succeed or just be frightened by the prospect of both. But complaining about their tactics is just a way to avoid engaging in a real discussion.

    I doubt if the same tactics were adopted by brownshirted neo-nazis I doubt anyone here would be tut-tutting about how counterproductive their tactics were. So it is not entirely unfair for people to see the anarchists as a manifestation of one political and tactical strain of a larger movement.

  • Phil Jones (unverified)
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    "I doubt if the same tactics were adopted by brownshirted neo-nazis I doubt anyone here would be tut-tutting about how counterproductive their tactics were. So it is not entirely unfair for people to see the anarchists as a manifestation of one political and tactical strain of a larger movement."

    Every time I see neo-nazis and their swastikas, I can't help but think how totally counterproductive their tactics are to their cause of racial segregation. The swastika invokes revulsion in most thinking American adults as a symbol of oppression and mass murders. It's not just the jewish community who can't stand nazis and what they symbolize.

    Likewise, just as it did in this recent Portland war protest march, the image of the anarchists wearing facial coverings and burning the U.S. Flag and soldier in effigy have seriously undermined all the good the march may have accomplished. These offense, while quasi-legal, tainted an otherwise civil display of 15,000 citizens exercising their first amendment rights to protest an immoral war.

    Anyone who can't see the harm done to civil discourse by extremist groups that offend the masses is not using the cognitive skills they were taught to use.

  • Dan Petegorsky (unverified)
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    that problem, as they define it, is not going to be fixed by persuading middle-class folks in their armchairs to support the cause

    Ross - I'm confused by this. Are you suggesting the anarchists' tactics are actually directed at poor and working class people so it's irrelevant if they alienate the middle class?

    If that's what you're saying, are you really thinking that these tactics are in fact effective in building power for the poor? How?

  • Phil Jones (unverified)
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    Lars Larson and all the other conservative talk show hosts are currently making great use of the photos taken of the most offensive actions in the antiwar march. Now it seems there is a picture taken at the march showing one of the anarchists defecating on the flag.

    There was nothing gained by the extremists last week. In fact, the images left behind are doing a huge amount of damage to the peace movement. Anyone supporting the anarchists should be ashamed of themselves.

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    Some call in questions for Lars:

    Do you think that we should call our troops in Iraq murderers because a few troops have been convicted of murdering Iraqi civilians?

    Do you think that we should call the Minutemen racists because Nazis have showed up (uninvited) to their demonstrations?

    If a member of a Democratic Administration revealed the identity of an undercover CIA operative that headed up WMD investigations to the press, would said Democratic operatives be guilty of treason?

    And so on.......

  • ws (unverified)
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    "Likewise, just as it did in this recent Portland war protest march, the image of the anarchists wearing facial coverings and burning the U.S. Flag and soldier in effigy have seriously undermined all the good the march may have accomplished." Phil Jones

    Sorry, Phil, I must respectfully tell you that is just nonsense. At best, on the part of anybody that places substance to such a notion, it betrays a critical weakeness of confidence in the fundamental principles upon which this country is based. In this country, more people than not are smart enough and believe strongly enough in their country's principles to know that a small band of conspicuously outrageous demonstrators acts do not represent the sentiments and beliefs of all those others who oppose the war.

    Humanity can be very contradictory. So much hoopla is directed towards proprietry notions of diplomacy and political process that mostly requires years of experience and skill to utilize effectively, and yet it's almost a reflexive response to throw the young, poor, less experienced into the flames of war with little thought. The kind of person that might be inclined to engage in an outrageous act of political demonstration for the purpose of affecting positive change is one who has likely come to the realization that existing approved diplomatic and political process is effectively, not available to them for the aformentioned reasons and more.

    Anybody offended by the burning of an american soldier effigy ought to attempt setting aside their righteous indignation for just a little while to try and analyze why any american citizen would be so conceive of doing that and to what purpose. If you can't do that, maybe this is the wrong country for you.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    The question whether we should have theatrics or civil disobedience or not is the wrong question. The questions should be "Should we engage in such practices?" and, if so, "What form should they take?" If any proponents suggest that it would be fun, then that should be taken as a rule of thumb to forget it.

    We have many examples in addition to those mentioned above that have shown such activities to be counter-productive. On the other hand others have had the opposite effect with civil disobedience by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. being among the more obvious examples.

  • Phil Jones (unverified)
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    ws - I have no intention of leaving the country of my birth and your suggestion that I or anyone else disagreeing with you is offensive just as much as when the right wingnut crowd used the "America, Love It or Leave It" phrase so many years ago. No, I'd rather stand up to apologists such as you who encourage the repulsive actions of the anarchists who defecate upon and burn our Flag. While I support their legal right to do so, I abhor the actions that tarnished an otherwise civil gathering.

  • (Show?)

    (parts of this respond loosely to Steve M. and Garrett, another more directly to Garrett)

    Too bad we're not talking about Mike's excellent column, which seems to me to link the demonstration/mobilization elements of the movement with the electoral elements and also raises the issue of organizing. I'm going to be forwarding the URL to someone I know in California who is in in touch with the national level of United for Peace and Justice, which has been struggling with resource issues in trying to build a movement that can both mobilize big demonstrations at central places and have an organized local presence and then link the levels.

    The levels DO connect. It is not an accident that Earl B. addressed the rally at some length, that Tom Potter did so briefly, & that several state legislators put in appearances.

    There were lots of organizations with presence there, & rallies are called that because they have a morale boosting effect. There was a tent where you could write letters to the congresspeople and senators, and another where you could sign up to get involved in civil disobedience. There were various groups trying to get people to engage the political system, including a group against attacking Iran that earlier this week successfully got the Portland City Council to take a stand against such an attack, and tangentially-only related groups like the No Sweat Portland campaign that is trying to produce anti-sweatshop pressure by changing city contracting policy on uniforms. Even the police chief, Rosie Sizer, was walking around calmly & doing good work to dispel Kroeker legacy.

    Who wasn't there? Anyone trying to recruit people to work for the DPO or (perhaps more plausibly) Multnomah County Dems. Or perhaps even more plausibly, maybe some of us who are anti-war and also believe in electoral work should have had a tent to build an anti-war caucus within the DPO and MCD's, to put in energy & on that basis ask for or demand a voice.

    Of course if we did that, we'd have to deal with the criticisms of representing the ideologically activist part of the base pulling the party away from the center. That's life, I guess. But dissing people for not doing door to door canvassing to elect people who you say won't, can't and really shouldn't do what the people in question want to see happen, out of commitment to political tactics that avoid the other hard work of trying to change people's minds, because getting elected on any basis NOW is more important than anything else, is pretty lame. Or to put it another way, why should people who want to see something happen do hard work for folks who really don't?

    One thing I like about Mike's piece is that it appears that the ROP really is organizing and sees a piece of that work as persuasion. The problem with the political operative/ political insider perspective too often is unwillingness to engage in persuasion. Sometimes this reflects a different form of self-indulgent worldliness, self-congratulatory pseudo-realism, or cynicism. Sometimes it's just failing to include in the political task not just the art of what is currently possible, but that of working to change minds now to redefine what will be politically possible down the line.

    You may not want to engage in THAT hard work. But if you want people who do to join you in the canvassing kind of hard work, you need to treat them with more respect.

    Garrett wrote: "don't know if blaming the Congress for not wasting their time on something THAT HAS NOT A PRAYER IN THE WORLD of passing is fair. Please take a govt. class so that you understand how our govt. works."

    Actually seems to me to exemplify how our govt. doesn't work. Garrett, if I accept this reasoning, why should I bother to vote at all? Damn right I want them to try, and will blame them if they don't.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    If any proponents suggest that it would be fun, then that should be taken as a rule of thumb to forget it.

    Yea, we all know that politicians never hold parties to make money. They wouldn't want to be seen having fun. What the h*ll difference does it make whether they are having fun or not?

    I can't help but think how totally counterproductive their tactics are to their cause of racial segregation.

    Those tactics worked pretty well in Germany. Do you really think they would make more progress on the extermination of Jews if they advocated it politely? A petition perhaps?

    Are you suggesting the anarchists' tactics are actually directed at poor and working class people

    I honestly don't know how anything I said would indicate that. I doubt class really has much to do with it, but I think this part is pretty clearly true:

    it's irrelevant if they alienate the middle class?

    the image of the anarchists wearing facial coverings and burning the U.S. Flag and soldier in effigy have seriously undermined all the good the march may have accomplished.

    What good was that? Would we have been closer to overthrowing the corporate militarist state? Is there any reason why people who have that as their objective should care what you think? Do you care what they think?

    More to the point, get over it. The whackos and the news media will pick up on the most outlandish things and repeat them over and over. Just stop watching, you are only encouraging them. Nothing that happens on TV is real - its all a phony "reality" show.

  • Phil Jones (unverified)
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    "Those tactics worked pretty well in Germany. Do you really think they would make more progress on the extermination of Jews if they advocated it politely? A petition perhaps? "

    You've got to be kidding, right? Do you really believe brown-shirted swastika wearing white nationalists could ever be taken seriously by more than a few hardcore racists? Wow, that's some logic ya got there. LOL!

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    Getting this back on track. I think the basic point of the ROP program is on the money. The pressure needs to be maintained for the next two years leading into the 2008 election. They have come up with a way to do that in areas where those opposed to the war have generally been a minority in the past. That is now turning to a majority and that majority needs to be solidified into an effective political force. I don't doubt that some of Gordon Smith's conversion is seeing that happen in areas that are part of his base.

  • sara byers (unverified)
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    I was one of the organizer's of the 4th C.D's Town Hall in Roseburg on February 24. I take exception to saying that Peter DeFazio continues to need to be "pushed" to being anti-war. That's ridiculous, given Peter's consistent record. Peter sent his CHIEF LEGISLATIVE AIDE, Karmen Fore, to the Town Hall, as well as his Roseburg staff person, Chris Conroy and his campaign manager, Jen Gilbreath. This was publicized as a "People's" Town Hall, which it truly, and it was MORE EFFECTIVE that way than if they had been DeFazio's Town Hall. As it was the people had the spotlight, not the Congressperson. I can see staying on Walden's case, and Smith; but DeFazio?? You don't get stronger against the war than Peter. To whine about the members of Congress not jumping when we called shows a political naviete that doesn't get us anywhere except to look like pouting children.

  • ws (unverified)
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    Phil Jones, I'm not suggesting you leave the country, but if you don't like what goes on here, maybe you're the kind of person that will decide this isn't the country for you. That's what I'm saying.

    You're supposed to abhor burning flags and effigies of american soldiers. In fact, some of the people conducting those displays do also. So why do they do it? The do so to demonstrate the disingenuous integrity demonstrated by much of conventional political process towards the soldiers and principles of our country.

    That's right...from some U.S. citizens perspective, the bush administration, and members of both political parties have been no less disrespectul to troops and the flag than that which the small band at the demonstration attempted to convey at the demonstration with their disturbing act.

    I really find it amazing that people fail to recognize that.

    I knew somebody that did a bit on first thursday some years back. Shoeshines, buffed with the American flag. Reaction from all the well dressed adult citizens passing by? Ha-ha !! Isn't that chic? No outrage, no expression of concern about disrespect shown. This person also passed on the word that others they knew considered all American soldiers, at least those associated with the Iraq war, to be war criminals. Why would he say that, I asked myself. I thought about it a long time. Didn't agree with the sentiment, but came to understand something about what a segment of this country's citizens think. I much prefer hearing something like this expressed than not for the valuable insight if offers into the general morale of the country.

    If you want to understand what's going on in this country, I believe you have to be prepared to witness things that are sometimes offensive and disrespectful. I figure it's easier to do that than face down a bullet in Iraq or a dead Iraqui kid you've just blown to smithereens.

  • Phil Jones (unverified)
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    ws - You still don't get it, do you? Like I said earlier, I defend the right of someone to burn the Flag and even a soldier's effigy, but that Peace March was really the wrong time and place. Don't you realize it gave the right a ton of ammunition to use in their arguments to continue the war? It made the entire effort the talk of the nation. Portland received another glaring black eye nationally and the local peace movement was made to look like a group of irreverant buffoons.

    If you wish to be associated with the low-class of people who would publicly defecate on the Flag, that's your privilege. I, however, won't support it in any manner. I marched in the Peace Parade a few years ago in Portland and it had a lot more class than this one. I'm very glad I didn't attend the one last week. I'd hate to have my picture grouped with the cowards who hid their faces. I don't think you realize the damage to the left these idiots caused.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    I take exception to saying that Peter DeFazio continues to need to be "pushed" to being anti-war.

    "Push" is probably an unfortunate way of saying it. But I don't care what the personal views of a politician are, they need to be supported by their constituents who agree with them. They are after all only representatives of the will of their constituents. The stronger their constituents, the stronger they will be. And for people whose representative supports the war, the stronger they are as constituents in opposing the war the weaker their representative's support will be for Bush.

  • (Show?)

    If you want to understand what's going on in this country, I believe you have to be prepared to witness things that are sometimes offensive and disrespectful.

    If I go to an anti-war rally, to protest the war, I don't want my reason for being there to be hijacked by cowards hiding behind masks pushing a different agenda. That's offensive and disrespectful to me. Want to pull those stunts, do it at your own friggin' rally...or maybe anarchists aren't so good at organizing stuff.

    I have to say I'm reminded of an earlier time, back when I was helping put together a rally in NYC against the Vietnam War, and this guy from "East Side Up Against the Wall Motherf**kers" (no, I'm not making this up) at our "coalition" meeting kept arguing for a more "militant" rally than the rest of us wanted. As a group we rejected his plans.

    Sure enough, come the rally, he and a handful of supporters seized the platform momentarily, waving a Vietcong flag...and, hey, guess what part of that rally with thousands of people in attendance made the news?

    And, hey, guess what? Later he outed himself as a proud member of the City's "Red Squad" playing undercover agent provacateur.

    Lesson learned.

  • ws (unverified)
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    I'm not particularly concerned with convincing everybody that I "get it". I'm not associated with the masked band, black block or whatever derivation of that mentality chooses to present itself in whatever form to the public eye for whatever reason, yet I know something of them.

    I know something of them because I listen to what they say and do and try to understand why, because like it or not, they'e American citizens, at least some of whom, just like some of their right wing reactionary counterpoints, believe what their doing is for the good of the country. In this case, there is an additional reason to pay attention because they would seem to be mostly younger people destined to change like all young people, and are in that respect to a certain extent, the future of this country.

    I respectfully and strongly disagree that this band of 30 paranoid, desperate and naive people successfully hijacked the message of 15,000 peaceful demonstrators despite the fact that right wing idiots eat up the flag-effigy burn thing like candy. Dismissing them all as agent provacateurs is just foolish and not true. Those acts are not just the efforts of people out for trouble.

    Who is really prepared to self-police the expression of political viewpoints in a 15,000 person rally spread over dozens of city blocks? What was anybody that objected to the act that was present when it was going on, doing to prevent it? Answer: Nothing. And why not? Most likely because even though they abhored what they saw, they believed allowing it to take place was the right thing to do.

    This is the United States, not taliban Afghanistan, Iraq, Soviet Russia, repressive China, Libya, Darfur, or any number of other repressive countries. Citizens in this country make the statements they believe in and we, the people that support the principles the country is founded on, respectfully listen to what other citizens say and do even though we might abhor the substance. Then, we respond as we see fit in accordance with those principles. That's what I'm doing. That's what I imagine people making comments here consider themselves to be doing.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    There is an interesting commentary on the whackos at the Portland Parade and their counterparts in the looney right-wing fringe at Talking Points Memo

  • Phil Jones (unverified)
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    Here is the Portland Tribune article with some interesting commentary following.

  • ws (unverified)
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    Based on Mike Edera's article, the ROP seems like a good means for coveying the concerns of grass roots people about the war to the congressional delegation. As he describes the ROP, it would appear that the ROP staff have a fairly solid sense of political process and protocol on both local and national levels that is important to know and be able to use in order to effectively communicate with people from congress and the senate.

    That should make a unified anti-war effort more accessible to Oregon citizens, and aparrently already has accomplished a certain degree of that. Despite this success, I suppose my own cautionary thought would be that even this relatively approachable grass-roots effort is probably out of reach of a great many people, not for geographical, but cultural reasons. Except maybe if you live in a political household, politics and local politics just isn't very citizen friendly. Sure, most people like to B.S. about high profile political figures or shenanigans, but the day to day process? No.

    I believe many people for the most part, dismiss considering personal political involvement, feeling it's over their heads. The word "activism", just plain scares many others.

    If I wasn't following things here on blueoregon, I wouldn't have any sense at all that average Oregonians are particularly aware of the political process, especially how local politics works and how officials can be effectively communicated with. My impression from this site is that awareness that exists isn't that common. That's part of the reason the direct action people are doing their thing.

    Maybe ROP's outreach will waken that awareness. I'd say it would be very important to tweak the outreach just a little bit to really grab that part of the constituency that this well intentioned effort probably passes over. Get yourself a website with some MP3 downloads, or make some sew-on patches. Enclose coupons with pizzas. Get the McMenamins to host a Town Hall. Something like that. Seriously.

  • BOHICA (unverified)
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    Posted by: Phil Jones | Mar 24, 2007 12:05:41 PM

    <h2>Here is the Portland Tribune article with some interesting commentary following.</h2>

    Interesting isn't the word I would use. Unhinged is more like it.

  • Phil Jones (unverified)
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    "Interesting isn't the word I would use. Unhinged is more like it."

    Yes, the image of a masked anarchist defecating on a burnt U.S. Flag does tend to have that effect on otherwise rational people. Thanks for making my point.

  • ws (unverified)
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    "Unhinged..." BOHICA

    Exactly. So why make the error of fueling the riduculous notion that such an unhinged, isolated act displaces or hijacks the heartfelt message made by 15,000 peaceful demonstrators? Most people are just a little smarter than that.

    "And by singling out the few who didn’t, we don’t intend to place thousands of demonstrators under one label. But the actions of a few do create a public perception that at least some advocates for peace are anti-American, anti-police and far out of step with mainstream values." from the Portland Tribune article.

    Even the tribune gets this, but the last part of that excerpt is notable:

    "But the actions of a few do create a public perception that at least some advocates for peace are anti-American, anti-police and far out of step with mainstream values."

    To borrow an expression: "Well, duh!" That's not just a perception. That's a fact. Why would dedicated American citizens not want to know this? What better place than a 15,000 person demonstration to learn this? Now people know, or should know, that the act in question is the work of a very small, narrow minded bunch of idiot clowns. This act had to be a personal reality check for a lot of people.

    Our freedom, the country, the flag, will endure.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    Yes, the image of a masked anarchist defecating on a burnt U.S. Flag does tend to have that effect on otherwise rational people.

    Its interesting that someone is apologizing for some right-wing whackos response to a handful of anarchists. But apparently think there is no excuse for the anarchists becoming unhinged by the killing of several hundred thousand innocent civilians in Iraq.

    What all three examples teach is what self-righteous ego will do to people.

  • (Show?)

    there is no excuse for the anarchists becoming unhinged by the killing of several hundred thousand innocent civilians in Iraq

    I don't get to beat my wife because I'm upset over Iraq, no matter how many innocent civilians have been killed. There's no cause and effect here.

    If the "anarchists" want to do what they did at their demonstration than we can discuss those actions on those terms. That's not what they did. They attenpted to take over something that wasn't their's --a peaceful protest-- and steal the spotlight. That's got nothing to do with feeling bad about innocent civilians being killed.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    They attenpted to take over something that wasn't their's --a peaceful protest-- and steal the spotlight.

    I take it you will apply those same standards to protests at the Republican National Convention? No one should steal the spotlight from them at their event huh?

  • (Show?)

    You finally get it, Ross.

    There was an anti-war demonstration...and the anarchists were out protesting the demonstration, not the war. They weren't there to be supportive of the demonstration, they were there to damage it, just as they tried --and failed-- to take the lead on the march, trying to misdirect it down another route.

    That they cover themselves in the flag of being more "radical" than thou --as they covered their faces-- but really, they were effectively serving the needs of the pro-war supporters. Their right to do so, but hardly anti-war, pro-peace, or anything other than self-indulgent.

  • Phil Jones (unverified)
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    Its interesting that someone is apologizing for some right-wing whackos response to a handful of anarchists. But apparently think there is no excuse for the anarchists becoming unhinged by the killing of several hundred thousand innocent civilians in Iraq.

    That has to be one of the most obviously innacurate statements yet. It's not just right-wing whackos who were offended by the actions of the anarchists. There are many moderate liberals who are angry at this hijacking of the otherwise civil demonstration.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    There are many moderate liberals who are angry at this hijacking of the otherwise civil demonstration.

    Fine - defending moderate liberals who become unhinged by a handful of anarchists, but can't excuse the anarchists for becoming unhinged by the deaths of several hundred thousand Iraqi's.

    ey were effectively serving the needs of the pro-war supporters. Their right to do so, but hardly anti-war, pro-peace, or anything other than self-indulgent.

    No more self-indulgent than the peaceful demonstrators. I doubt the anarchists think peaceful protest is going to end the war or prevent the next one. You want to call them names instead of engaging them in that debate either over tactics or political strategy.

    I guarantee you plenty of people believe demonstrations at the Republican convention effectively serve the Republicans rather than helping to elect Democrats.

  • (Show?)

    Ross,

    There can be no empirical data regarding the effectiveness of either peaceful demonstration, or provocative (and disgusting) street theater by a bunch of masked assholes.

    We do know for a fact, that the self described "anarchists" will be grist for the Right wing Mill, and will be used to pump outrage to The Base.

    I personally think that public demonstrations serve to make participants feel good about themselves. Period.

    That they may damage the chances of politicians who hold views closer to their own, and aid politicians with beliefs more distant from their own, is not a factor that they choose to consider.

    My conversations with friends that choose to demonstrate is all about impeachment. making them pay, etcetera. When asked if their actions further these efforts they go to "I don't care" rather than to serious consideration of the possibilities......

    The Shelter-in-the-backyard guys won't change their views no matter what evidence they see. Conversely, the socialist/communist/anarcho-syndicalists/whatevers will continue to see the Dems as irredeemably compromised.

    A lot of us are worried about "the middle". We're the Half-a-Loafers, I guess.......

  • ws (unverified)
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    I suppose some people could make the interpretation that the small band put on their act to protest the demonstration and not the war. Really though, I'm sure they were there to protest the war.

    I used to read indymedia a lot more than I do today, and comment there. I remember some of the comments posted there that invariably accompany preparations for upcoming marches. There was/is this faction that takes exception to what they regard as docile, ineffective tactics of the moderate anti-war coalition in town. In response, they're determined to employ their idea of direct action in the form of acts like defying the prescribed parade route, burning flags, effigies, etc. Despite this controversial decision on their part, I'm certain the majority of these people are adamantly opposed to the war.

    Frank, that idea of ownership of the demonstration you're trying to use to make a distinction between who is welcome to the demonstration and who isn't has to have been lost on a lot more people than me. Did the demonstration organizers ever state any terms of ownership or participation in their preparations for this particular demonstration? Have they ever said the anarchists, black bloc, etc, was not welcome to this demonstration?

    The flag/effigy burners, arguably may have been less than peaceful in their acts at the demonstration, but they weren't violent. Angry and reckless, but not violent.

    I'm just curious what people who are really angry with this small band are prepared to do about them when time for the next demonstration/protest comes around. That should be May Day.

  • (Show?)

    There was/is this faction that takes exception to what they regard as docile, ineffective tactics of the moderate anti-war coalition in town.

    As there was during the Vietnam war protests, and as there was during the civil rights movement, etc, etc, and etc.

    Back in the day --and yeah, I'm that old-- the "militants" wore helmets, not masked faces, to signify their militancy. The fashions may change, but the provocateurs don't. But it's a chicken-shit militancy that throws a rock from the anonymity of the back of the crowd, with the folks up front taking the brunt of the police response. I saw it over and over again, back then, and fear it happening again.

    Frank, that idea of ownership of the demonstration you're trying to use to make a distinction between who is welcome to the demonstration and who isn't has to have been lost on a lot more people than me.

    It's not that complicated. Sloganeering "Fuck the Troops" and burning a soldier in effigy was not the demonstration as organized or planned for, ands that's hardly difficult to understand. Do you think the anarchists got confused and showed up at the wrong rally? "Support the troops" as I do --by which I mean bring them home from this insane war-- is not the same as "Fuck the Troops." Some might argue "Fuck the Troops" suggests the OPPOSITE of "Support the Troops," don't you think?

    This isn't that complicated. I remember when SDS evolved into the Weatherman evolved into the Weather Underground...and what did ANY of that have to do with ending the war? Or building The Movement? Or bringing America back to the vision of a peaceful and just nation? It was, in the vernacular of the day, petty-bourgeois self-indulgence that pushed people away from the anti-war movement, and away from political activism.

    You gotta look at outcomes. What was the outcome of burning that effigy? Did it advance the cause of peace? Did it bring the end of the Iraq war one nano-second closer to an end? Sorry, but I don't think so. I think it was a setback for coalition building, and, as such, played into the hands of the people who want to continue the war.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    Did it advance the cause of peace? Did it bring the end of the Iraq war one nano-second closer to an end? Sorry, but I don't think so.

    So what is your response to Pat, who apparently thinks the same thing can be said of the peaceful demonstration? Is it possible that both served the same purpose, to express the righteous rage of the participants against the war?

  • ws (unverified)
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    Frank, I really apprectiate your thoughts on this. I think I already alluded to the rationale behind the "fuck the troops" routine when I talked about the effigy burning act earlier up the thread. It's similarly related. It's complicated and I'm doubtful that I could ever make sense of it for a lot people.

    To a certain extent, I feel it is illogical, but I think the idea is to unequivocally counter the whole reflexively supportive effort behind the troops that some people seem to think happens regardless of what the government sends them off to do. Black Bloc, etc, wants to look at all troops that comply with such orders as war criminals, hence the slogan and the burnings, etc..

    I have tried to discuss these issues with somebody that seems intelligent who is close to that group. Talked with them about all the different kind of people that become troops, common reasons why and so forth. Hardly receptive. Is that any surprize?

    But I think these people's efforts do advance the cause of peace. For one thing, despite the masks, because of their having done this thing in such a public way, many, many people know generally who they are. The people that now are aware of this group should now know that they must strengthen their own resolve about the war and their efforts to communicate with their electeds to counter any uncertainty in the congressional delegate regarding what Oregonians position on the war is.

    Besides...what else are people prepared to do about such a group? Cordon off the demonstration area and throw them out? Beat them up? Throw them in detention? Can't do anything like that without compromising everybody else's freedom.

    I think it's important to keep in mind that this incident was representative of a very, very small percentage of the total assembled demonstrators, and unless I've heard differently, the rest of the people there showed no inclination to join in.

  • (Show?)

    The most important thing that happened to stop the Vietnam War --in my opinion-- was when the troops joined us. When Vietnam Veterans Against the War provided the "security" for our marches, guarding the perimeter, men in uniform that cops --or construction workers-- were far, far less willing to call into question for their committment and patriotism.

    These are our natural allies -- those of us who want to see the war's end. They've suffered as Americans, the most, lost brothers and sisters, and know --in a gut-know-way-- the reality of the baloney of the Bush administration's war plans.

    Burn them in effigy? War Criminals? These Americans are mostly victims. Not all...but mostly.

    How does it serve the anti-war cause to cut us off from these allies --or potential allies-- against the war?

  • ws (unverified)
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    I wonder if many local veterans of the Iraqui war have been coming to the marches, Fri night PPR demo and so forth. I'll try and get down there Fri night and ask.

    There is:

    www.vaiw.org and www.ivaw.org

    Iraqui vets, united in some kind of presence at demonstrations, parades and marches might change the dynamic in a number of different ways. I'm not sure what would happen.

    Countering calculated offensive acts of the rad faction without feeding the frenzy they thrive on is no small undertaking.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    The most important thing that happened to stop the Vietnam War --in my opinion-- was when the troops joined us.

    I think that is patently untrue. First because "the troops" who joined the anti-war movement were no more representative of the troops than the anarchists were of the other demonstrators. And second, because that ignores the reality that the early opponents of the war faced exactly the same criticisms you are making of the anarchists. That they were doing more harm to their cause than good etc. And third, because it was the shock at the deaths of protesters, at the hands of national guardsmen in response to the rock throwers you criticized, that really galvanized in the public mind the dangers to the Republic of continuing the war.

    And lets be clear - that danger was that the political battle over the war was turning into a violent struggle.

  • (Show?)

    I think that is patently untrue. First because "the troops" who joined the anti-war movement were no more representative of the troops than the anarchists were of the other demonstrators.

    You're free to think what you want, but Dewey Canyon II, when the vets threw their medals back at the White House...that was pretty powerful stuff. (And John Kerry was hardly a marginal character.) Weird as it may sound to you, my best friends in the anti-war movement were vets.

    Interesting that you cite the "deaths of protesters, at the hands of national guardsmen in response to the rock throwers you criticized." Alison Krause was a runaway...not a demonstrater. These kids were innocents. The lesson was that you could get killed just being around a demonstration. That didn't help make demonstrations a draw, and I criticize rock throwers to this day. You don't end a war by throwing rocks and breaking windows. That stuff is just sophomoric juvenile delinquency. (And, these days, as likely done to protest the loss of a football game as to protest anything.) At least that's my opinion, but an opinion, I suspect, shared by an awful lot of people. Or at least I don't see a lot of people rallying around the burning of the flag, or that soldier in effigy.

  • Phil Jones (unverified)
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    Frank, you are quite correct on several counts, but mostly about the opinion the number one factor that brought about the end of the Vietnam War was the testimony of the returning troops to Congress as well as the numberous marches, sit-ins and public speeches of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, or VVAW.

    The American public, already disheartened by the many years of flag-draped coffins returning home, really listened to these soldiers who came back and spoke about the attrocities they had witnessed as well as the futility of it all.

    Every time the dreaded "stinkin' hippies", as the right called them, had a war protest, the average American simply disregarded it as the rantings of unpatriotic cowards. They couldn't say that about the VVAW. Even President Richard M. Nixon conceded the effect the returning veterans had upon his decision to bring the troops home.

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