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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stunted Growth

Huffpo:

Activists from Code Pink were dealt two severe smackdowns Tuesday from Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, amidst testimony from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

"Will you act your age and stop playing with that sign?" Frank asked the activists, on hand to wave signs requesting bailouts. "We really need people to grow up."
...
He then offered some advice on political tactics to the group. "I do not know how you think you could advance any cause to which you might be attached by this kind of silliness," he said.

I've blogged about "stunts" before and have considered that this not-uncommon question really is the statement: "what you're doing is hurting your cause."  There are many tactics to bring to bear, and they aren't mutually exclusive.  Incivil tactics are not counterproductive, except to the people who would rather wring hands and do nothing active.

The response to Jon Stewart's concern in HuffPo comments is spot on:

flyrod

A while back Jon Stewart showed a clip of code pink doing this type of thing. His response was perfect, "You're Not F***ing Helping". I think that was the name of the segment actually.
    Reply   Posted 02:53 PM on 03/24/2009

- + hokuspokus

Love Jon Stewart, but for all those who think like him on the "Your Not Helping..." front, how exactly did Stewart do any better on stopping the war? Did any of the "rational discussion" of the issue stop the war, or even slow it down a single bit? No. Sure we learned a lot about how wrong it was, but then that was the end of it. Education without action is activism with no teeth.

Same with the bailout issue. At some point all you have left is interrupting "business as usual".
We know what the problem is, now it is time to put the pressure on Congress to see who is paid for and who is not. The bankers interests are being heard in closed door meetings without being told to shut up, why not the people's?
    Reply   Posted 03:25 PM on 03/24/2009

Haunting officials, apologists and beneficiaries is a very powerful way to register your feelings and put psychological pressure on your targets.  Disruption tactics are a way to intervene when people are engaged in default behavior.  If we've learned anything over the last several years, if not decades, is that the status quo is dangerous and very entrenched.

Sadly, people only see Code Pink when their "antics" make the news, which oddly enough seems to be more frequent all of a sudden.  Even if that were all they do, it would still have value, but Code Pink actually engages in citizen diplomacy and humanitarian efforts, builds coalitions with other peace and justice organizations around the world, lobbies Congress in less-disruptive ways, etc.  So much of the "grown up" work happens behind the scenes.

Dr King also confronted such "concerns" over hurting his cause:

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: "Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King?" "Why are you joining the voices of dissent?" "Peace and civil rights don't mix," they say. "Aren't you hurting the cause of your people," they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

We approach the war and social and economic justice in a similar manner, but tying them together and using a variety of nonviolent tactics to force the issue.  Some people didn't like the idea of occupying lunch counters, riding buses and marching in Selma.  I say: If you have a better idea of how to go about it, by all means stop kibitzing and go do it. 

ntodd

March 24, 2009 in Why We Fight | Permalink

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Comments

So what is the better way? Contributing money and writing our Congress Critters? Nope, sorry Barney, as much as I like you, although you can be sketchy on some things, direct action is needed especially since the media sees no need to speak truth to power anymore.

The only way the people in Washington will change their behavior and work on behalf of the PEOPLE who elected them is to keep pointing out their contradictions and bad choices, loudly and publicly.

I admire Code Pink and if I were in a position to participate financially and physically I would. I want to see more people on TV bringing it to the liars and apologists, putting them on the spot, making them explain in public. If you are dirty and you are accepting money to play on the side of big corporations because you have no moral center you deserve to be called out and you need to explain your position on camera so everyone can see and judge for themselves.

With the rise of the internet, global connections and non-beholden truth to power speakers the traditional politicians are caught behind the times. They have not realized yet how easily and quickly their lies can be outed by millions of people. There is no tamping this down, it is viral.

Power better become truthful and helpful very fast...to do otherwise will lead to their very dangerous downfall. The internet French Revolution is upon us.

Posted by: moistenedbink | Mar 26, 2009 10:45:00 PM

Barney Frank is interested only in looking out for number one. The good of the American nation is a distant second on his list of concerns.

Why did Barney Frank kill the "Buy American" proviso in the stimulus package?

It is time for Barney Frank, and indeed everyone else, to start putting neighbors, friends, and countrymen first. The interests of foreigners and trans-nationals are in polar opposition to those of the Americans whom Rep. Frank supposedly represents.

Posted by: Orenthal | Apr 15, 2009 9:22:18 PM

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