As Hurricane Gustav descends upon the Gulf Coast, the party who taught us how heartless our government can be in crisis struggles with the age old question…”What is the appropriate level to party?”
But before the games can even begin at the Republican National Convention, cases of police crackdowns on diverse activist and journalist communities are already starting to surface.
As at the Democratic National Convention, dissenters and delegates come as two shades of good faith. Delegates come to the conventions with hope and devotion. Dissenters flock to the conventions to offset the collective American silence that has led to tragedy, disaster, death, tyranny and shame all over the world.
Republicans fly to the Twin Cities to try and rewrite history, claim moral victory, galvanize their fearful base into a movement to respond to the throngs of hopeful souls spilling out of Denver.
Apparently they have forgotten who is who.
The cops are raiding buildings in St. Paul and Minneapolis, handcuffing residents, tearing up their homes, locking them up or in, stifling their voices, denying them their basic right to be heard, their right to dissent. they claim to be looking for bomb making materials, and other tools of violence or “terrorism.”
But we are not the warmongers.
It is not the practice of those protesting for peace to plot acts of senseless violence against their opposition. the most dangerous force on the planet at the moments is unfortunately and in fact our “elected” government, that is why people have converged to say (non violently) enough is enough, stop the killing.
I have been hearing the plans from afar, and the heart of the plot is: how can we make the message compelling to americans all over, how can we make sure students get heard on their desire to not be sent off to war? i have not heard: how can we hurt someone, isolate ourselves, or damage some property?
We (the Ruckus Society) train folks in strategic and nonviolent action tactics, but our trainers showed up when plans had already been in place for months, and we were deeply impressed by the commitment to peaceful and direct communication amongst those converging at the RNC.
No, we are not the warmongers, though the party currently inspiring the preemptive arrest of citizen journalists have done their best to turn us into soldiers or a silent surge-supporting majority.
In fact, those who are being targeted first are community media, folks who have come to ensure that no one is hurt, to observe the cops and make sure that no one is targeted, that the whole representative democracy thing is achieved at least a little bit. They arrested Sara Coffey from the National Lawyers Guild!
I often hear people say that I, and those I work side by side with every day, are too radical in the changes we want to see, have too critical an eye of our government.
When the Chinese government was rounding up journalists and activists before and during the Olympics, and made a list of what could and couldn’t be said, American journalists recoiled in horror. That is repression, clearly.
Can we not see it on American soil then, when the same thing happens? How will we respond?
I know it’s hard to understand what terrorism is now, since U.S media, government, and G8 governments use the term anytime a lesser force engages in acts of war against a larger force, particularly a force we determine to be our economic ally. It’s confusing. So i will clarify:
Acts of dissent and protest are not, repeat ARE NOT terrorism. They are not acts of treason. They are not acts of violence against the state.
They ARE acts of hope for better from the government.
Protest is the foundation of this country and the bedrock of any democratic process.
It is a sign of weakness for those in power when they cannot handle the weight of protest, when they respond not with grace but with crackdowns, lock-ins, and arrests.
As Gustav barrels towards the still open wound of the gulf coast, and the Republican National Committee struggles to prioritize the people they’ve abandoned for three years over the PR nightmare of Sarah Palin’s pregnant 17-year-old, it is important to remember: there is no erasing the public image of the GOP of the last 8 years — there is only the future. And in the immediate future, there is no violence that any individual or group of individuals could do during the RNC that will do as much damage to the host party as their preemptive and repressive behavior to those they aim to represent.
(reposted from www.wiretapmag.org)