Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right …

Laugh or cry? A group of protesters — not all from Occupy DC — tried to push past security to enter the Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. They wanted to protest the use of unmanned drones in overseas war.

Here’s the part to laugh at — one of the protesters was an infiltrator from the Right, the wingnut editor of the far-Right American Spectator. This loser claims he was the only one to make it into the museum, in fact. He simultaneously derides the danger and lawlessness of the group while calling them cowardly for stopping short of violence.

The loser also was much taken with the number of attractive 20-year-old girls among the protesters. Charles Johnson:

Just imagine the reaction from the right wing if a left wing protester infiltrated a Tea Party demonstration as an agent provocateur.

Of course, there are no “attractive 20-year old girls” at Tea Party demonstrations, so there isn’t the same motivation.

Heh. However …

This is exactly the kind of crap that prevents the Left from building any kind of effective movement to accomplish anything. Since several of you don’t seem to understand what I’m complaining about, let’s go back to September 2005.

There were huge antiwar rallies September 24 in Washington and other cities. I went to the Washington DC march around the White House. It was one of the better ones, really big, with people of all ages and ethnicities joining in.

As usual, Code Pink tried to steal the show by holding a separate rally and march a few blocks away. I remember reading that some of them were arrested. In any event, none of the pinksters came anywhere close to the advertised rally and march.

Also meanwhile, as most people marched around the White House, International A.N.S.W.E.R. — one of the sponsors — held its own event on the Ellipse, covered by CSPAN. After the march I got back to my hotel, logged on the Web, and read Steve Gilliard’s review

You know, it’s time for the campus radicals to go home and take ANSWER with them.

I watched an hour or so of the rally and I wanted to smash my screen.

Why can’t they have adults who can speak in words, not slogans.

Here’s a hint, Palestine is really unpopular in the US, even among liberals. You do not gain support for the Palestinians by having some campus clown talk about the injustices of the Palestinian people. You know, why not have a real Palestinian from Palestine who doesn’t speak in slogans. You know, but a human face on it. And leave the support of terrorists like FARC at home, after all, you can’t call Israelis terrorists when you’re praising drug dealing terrorists.

This is serious shit and I had to listen to someone say he was a communist. Now what in the fuck does that have to do with Iraq? Too many people on the left glom on to any protest and use it as their hobby horse. You know, the only people I wanted to express solidarity with were the families of the soldiers, the soldiers and the people of Iraq suffering from US occupation. It may be cute to have diversity, but it takes away from the seriousness. You have a rally where only soldiers and their families speak, with a few pols, and even Bush couldn’t ignore that.

One of the most effective protests of the Vietnam War was the Winter Soldier Hearings in Detroit. They talked about the war and their role in it. That is something people need to see more than once a week on FX.

As long as you prattle on about anti-imperialism and other college campus radical causes, you don’t get taken seriously. ANSWER in their own way is as bad as the Chickenhawks. Both are amazingly selfish. The chickenhawks refuse to serve, the ANSWER crowd uses people like Cindy Sheehan to promote their own agenda. Mumia’s ass is in jail, and you couldn’t more than 10 minutes on black radio about him. And that’s a cause?

I just want to see a protest where there is only one topic, Iraq, the only speakers are talking about Iraq and all the signs are about Iraq. That anyone who mentions some nonsense like the “Popular Front” is shoved off the stage with a flying tackle. Talk about Iraq. But leave the other causes at home. I don’t really care about what a Israeli refusenik has to say if the topic isn’t Iraq.

Some of A.N.S.W.E.R.’s long list of speakers were from antiwar organizations, but they also had speakers from groups like the Women’s Anti-Imperialist League and the Socialist Front of Puerto Rico.

The A.N.S.W.E.R. program got more publicity than the march. I had no idea this was even going on until I got back to my hotel, and I can’t tell you how disgusted I was. It was the last demonstration I bothered to attend. There are less expensive ways to waste time.

There had been a number of demonstrations on the East Coast co-sponsored by United for Peace and Justice and International A.N.S.W.E.R. I have nothing bad to say about UfPJ, but it let IA push it around to get their sponsorship money, and those compromises reduced the effectiveness of the rallies. After this one I believe UfPJ had nothing more to do with IA, finally, but there were no more really big rallies on the East Coast after that. Smaller ones, yes. I wasn’t the only one who decided to sit the rest of them out.

A lot of us, including me, beginning in 2003 wrote many warnings about not allowing International A.N.S.W.E.R. to be the face of the antiwar movement, and I caught a lot of grief for it. But I was right.

Now, the Occupy Wall Street activists are on the edge of building a movement centered on economic populist issues that polls say most Americans support. And the slogan “we are the 99 percent” could be very effective IF most Americans come to understand it in the context of kitchen-table economic issues.

A broad swatch of Americans feel Washington pays no attention to their problems and caters instead to the rich and Wall Street. Big nationwide marches filled with middle-class, working people could actually get the attention of politicians in Washington. This would be a good thing.

But most of that broad swatch will not join in if they whiff a bunch of leftish issues they are not ready to embrace, and I suspect unmanned drones on foreign soil is one of those issues. And if the “movement” never goes beyond the usual vocational protesters, it’s pissing in the wind.

Update: See also “The Inkblot Protests

10 thoughts on “Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right …

  1. No attractive 20 yr. old girls at Tea Party events?
    That’s ’cause they’re all at the mall.
    If you want to find a fish, look for a body of water.
    Cows are usually found in pastures.
    Birds generally like trees.
    Malls have an uncanny ability to attract females.
    Chick magnets.
    I have also found that most women prefer Chick Fillet to Hooters.
    And they don’t like Denneys or Chinese buffets if they’re under 75 and you’re buying.
    Men can be found at the Home Depot most weekends.
    Women looking for a good man would do better at the ‘depot than a bar, but showing up at the ‘Depot in a slinky dress and cfm heels would be a bit intimidating. Could start a feeding frenzy.
    There must be some hidden meaning here, some day I’ll break the code……

    • erinyes — the tycoons may be scared, but I’m not sure they are scared the way they need to be scared. My impression is that they’re more worried about somebody scratching up their limos or throwing eggs on their pretty office buildings than they are about losing any real power.

  2. Maha, what you’re saying in this post applies to pretty much ANY public protest of significant size. If you’ve got only 100 people at a demonstration, you can keep it very focused and prevent some loudmouth from hijacking the message. When you’ve got 10,000 people or more, you can’t expect every single person to behave as you would. It’s made worse by the fact that our enemies (ie wingnuts, perhaps some even paid by Koch Inc as agent provocateurs) will do their best to wreck things.

    The problem with small demonstrations of 100 people is that you won’t get on TV. You can post a video on Youtube, perhaps write a story for, and maybe someone will know you demonstrated, but don’t expect it to have any impact on our politicians. On the other hand, get 100,000 people in the streets and you will probably get some publicity. But of course, America’s right-wing media will do everything to make you look like idiots, interviewing someone irrelevant like an anti-smoking activist, or one of those agent provocateurs.

    The problem here is the boneheaded news media, not the overwhelming number of demonstrators who came out to protest the Wall Street bankster/lobbyist culture which has taken over the US government. If you talk good sense, Fox News doesn’t want to interview you. They want to give the microphone to the schizophrenic guy who gets messages from aliens (transmitted through the fillings in his teeth) because he “represents the loony left.”

    Ironically, I’ve seen posts like yours today by Tea Partiers who became disillusioned with their movement pretty quickly. Of course, the Tea Party was very much a tool of Koch Inc even if the participants didn’t know it. But from the posts I’ve read, a lot of them came out to demonstrate against the banksters too as they watched their pensions evaporate, but the message Fox wanted everyone to hear is that Obama is a Marxist (because Karl Marx would give trillions to bail out private banks, right?) who was born in Kenya, wants to give free healthcare to illegal aliens, hand granny over to the death panels, abort white babies (by force if necessary), make gay marriage mandatory, take away your guns, and perpetuate a New World Order through the global warming hoax. If any Tea Partier got interviewed by Fox News and started talking about the thieves on Wall Street, you can rest assured that video never made it past the delete button.

    What Koch and friends fear most is that both righties and lefties would come together, to make up that 99% that wants the banksters thrown out of government and into jail for the trillions that they stole. The controlled news media will do everything to make sure that message gets blurred.

    I have no solution to this. But I don’t know why you’re focusing your wrath on the demonstrators, most of whom I’m sure are sincere people who are fed up with seeing their future sold off to the 1% of wealthy elites that control America. There is a great desire to do something. Simply telling people that they can vote for one of the two corrupt thieving parties at election time is no longer enough.

  3. Protesting unmanned drones at the National Air and Space Museum is a little like protesting aircraft carriers at the paddle-boat dock in Boston Public Gardens. It’s just going to annoy the tourists who have nothing to do with the issue, and the only connection is the medium the vehicles travel in. Stupids.

    Can we get back to talking about how the Wal-Mart CEO makes nearly 2,000 times the hourly pay of a starting worker, the banksters are guilty of massive real estate title fraud, and how only the rest of us have suffered for it? Please?

  4. Maha, what you’re saying in this post applies to pretty much ANY public protest of significant size.

    That wasn’t true of the early civil rights movement. It wasn’t true of the suffragettes. For that matter, I doubt it’s true of pro-reproduction rights demonstrations in recent years. This suggests to me that a lot of the problem is being fueled by testosterone. (Are any of the Zuccotti Park crew demonstrating to keep abortion legal? I’m betting not, or very few, even though that’s a more immediately significant issue than legalizing marijuana.)

    And guess what? Nearly all mass leftie movements in the U.S. since Martin Luther King have been ineffectual. That’s including the antiwar movement in the Vietnam era, the Winter Soldier campaign excepted (see Steve Gilliard’s comments).

    It’s true that mass media coverage is rarely kind to lefties, but that’s all the more reason to be disciplined.

    Sloppy, kitchen-sink demonstrations do little to build public support, which is the first goal of a mass movement. As I keep trying to explain and few of you are understanding, it keeps the movement from expanding to include people outside the The Usual Hotheads.

    The September 25, 2005 march in Washington was genuinely huge and included all kinds of people who didn’t look like the usual vocational protest crowd. This was in part because people were upset about Katrina and because Cindy Sheehan had just had her well publicized Camp Casey campout in Crawford, and she was at the march.

    But that never happened again. The “new” people didn’t come back. And Cindy Sheehan squandered her credibility as an antiwar symbol with public statements and demonstrations on left-wing issues other than the war. Rosa Parks would never have done that.

    There ought to be huge crowds of people in the streets about economic injustice in the U.S., but that’s not going to happen if the people assuming leadership roles are carrying “legalize marijuana” and “free the Palestinian” signs.

  5. UfPJ was the coordinating body for the pro-peace/anti-war ralles we had in Fayetteville, NC.
    At the 3 protests I was an organizer and speaker at, we had a lot of US soldiers and their family memebrs, and women and doctors from Iraq and Afghanistan to speak. We had local musicians and some lesser known national groups playing music.
    The Code Pink women involved with us weren’t nearly as overboard as the ones I saw in DC rallies. They made me, then a guy in his late 40’s, and honorary member.
    But, being Liberals, of course, we were probably more inclusive than we needed to be, and included some other other protest groups – like gay and lesbian ones whose messages stayed on target.
    I will say this, our rallies were different than others in NC, because of our proximity to Fort Bragg, the huge Army Base. We could demand, and did, that our rallies not have certain groups speak like the Communista and Socialists, among others, (they were certainly welcome to come and join us, but not to have time at the microphone), and we faced a lot of pressure from some of the younger people from the Capitol of Raleigh, who wanted to have some of their folks do something so that they’d get arrested as part of some peaceful resistance. But we said no, you guys can come and go, but WE’RE the ones who have to live here.
    And then there was the giant puppet guy. But enough about giant puppets.

    Right now, the right cages are being rattled, because the Zoo Owners are getting nervous and sending out the Zookeepers to maintain order. The fact that zoo animals don’t like where they’re at shouldn’t be news. But the reaction of the Zoo owners and keepers can be.

    Btw – there’s a word for that guy from the American Spectator who infiltrated the rally. He’s a RATFUCKER!
    And he’s following a long tradition, going back well over a century, of ratfucking Liberal organization by infiltrating them, and inciting them towards violence in order to descredit them.
    Ratfuckers worship the Pinkertons, J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon, and G. Gordon Liddy. I’m sure that Little Boots and Darty Cheney are soon to join that pantheon.

    Beware the ratfuckers, my children.

  6. I completely agree that OWS must be a single-issue protest. I think that asking the movement to design the reform they want is a big mistake. The women’s suffrage movement was after the right to vote. The Civil Rights movement was about racial equality. Both were easy to define. The single-issue protest of OWS has to be economic inequality. The middle class is getting squeezed hard and the poor are totally at risk. (I am talking about tent cities, hunger, and no access to medical care if the libertarian vision becomes reality.)

    The mistake would be to try to define exact tax policy – or precisely define entitlements. If the movement stays on message – that message should be that the gulf between the haves and the have-nots is too wide – getting wider – has to narrow some – and the conservative vision will make the gulf too wide to bridge at all.

    Stay away from policy – if the debate shifts to the solution before middle class is enlisted in the movement, the debate will shift to rhetoric which the right can twist to their benefit.

    • swath

      I prefer swatch.

      swatch (swch)
      1. A sample strip cut from a piece of material.
      2. A representative portion; a sample: quoted swatches of the speech in his article.
      3. A strip or swath of land: “I . . . drove through this hilly swatch of field and forest that wraps around the east and north of town” (Jean Anderson).

      Swath is slightly different —

      swath (swth, swôth) also swathe (sw, swô, sw)
      a. The width of a scythe stroke or a mowing-machine blade.
      b. A path of this width made in mowing.
      c. The mown grass or grain lying on such a path.

      Swatch is closer to what I mean. If it isn’t a word you’ve heard before, I take it you don’t sew.

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