Sunday, January 29, 2012

Occupy Oakland Fails. Yet Again.

Ok folks, this is getting old. It is clear from the person-on-the-ground reports that this weekend's Occupy Oakland events definitely have a ring of violent-police-state to them and that shit pisses me off, makes me fear for the Constitution, etc. But while reading the "real truth about what happened" I was flabbergasted yet again by the seeming inability of those who claim to want real social change to wake the fuck up about the problems in your midst as well as the martial-law gestapo tactics being employed by the police.

The person-who-was-really-there reports all seem to minimize and even justify two specific things: the burning of the American flag and the attacking of the KTVU news van. And the crux of the endorsement by acceptance I see comes from the following line of thought:

1) flag-burner guy is a kook who regularly burns flags and it's "his thing"
2) local news media did not stick around and film what was really happening
3) as soon as KTVU got footage of flag-burner guy, their van attempted to leave
4) protestors want us to know that the problems were caused by outside agitators

Ok, let's take these points and look at them in the larger context...

Flag-burning guy:

It's just his thing? Really? And that makes it completely acceptable to let him do it when the nation is watching? Do you actually give a shit what the 99% thinks about how this looks? Do you have any fucking clue what the 99% looks like demographically? Has it occurred to you that nearly half of the 99% are conservative Republicans who, while they are absolutely part of the 99%, will immediately turn against you as soon as they see behavior that looks like Islamic extremism from the streets of Tehran or Karachi? Read these words carefully, please:

I am a socialist and I support freedom-of-speech that includes burning my nation's flag. I support the goals of total social revolution, in fact my position on Occupy is that it is not left-leaning enough! But when I saw that flag, which my grandfather and father fought for, burning on the steps of my county's court-house, I came within a hair's width of turning against the entire fucking movement. The only reason I have not turned totally against the movement is because it was made clear to me that the majority of the protestors on the street last night did not support the act of flag-burning that has now been seen around the nation. But mark my words: if you want more people to join this cause then please, please, for the love of God, the Dagda, or the Great Spaghetti Monster In The Sky, please STOP THIS MAN FROM ASSOCIATING WITH THE MOVEMENT. FLAG-BURNING IS NOT A FORM OF PEACEFUL PROTEST IN THE EYES OF MOST OF AMERICA THEREFORE MOST OF THE 99%! Do you want more people to agree with you? Then stop letting the message get co-opted by such destructive imagery. I am working to change hearts-and-minds of conservatives I know in Washington state, Missouri, Maryland, North Carolina, and Florida. That one image from last night has undone six months of my efforts. Thanks a lot for that. Many of the military veterans I know do lean toward supporting Occupy but the moment they see our flag burning, we totally lose their support. PLEASE stop making my job harder. We are supposed to be on the same side, remember?

Local news media not sticking around:

Throughout the day there was clear evidence of the presence of outside agitators, many of whom were sporting the Anarchy symbol and throwing things toward the police. Could it be that after it got dark and things escalated, the news media folks felt that their lives were at risk? Now, of course, journalists are supposed to be insanely brave and laugh in the face of danger. Sure. But they are human beings, it was a Saturday night, and on the best of Saturdays there is a pattern of violence in Oakland -- independent of the Occupy movement. I have lived on the East Bay for 23 years and frankly, if I were caught in downtown Oakland on a Saturday night and felt hemmed in, I might very-well run some motherfuckers over to get the fuck out of there. Ok, not literally -- but then again, I would never be a journalist because I would never accept an assignment to hang out on the streets of Oakland on a Saturday evening. And, while we're at it, for fuck's sake, these events occurred literally around the corner from where Chauncey Bailey was assassinated. Journalists should not fear for their safety in this country, should they?

It breaks my heart to express such negative sentiments about Oakland. Oakland has tremendous potential, and tremendous natural beauty within its city limits. I lived in Oakland for nearly 7 years, and I have lived in adjacent cities for over half of the time I have lived out west. But let's be honest: OAKLAND IS A FAILED CITY. Perhaps I am digressing here, but thankfully I have the first-amendment right to express my opinion. And yes, I do in fact support the move to recall Mayor Quan and toss her ineffective idiotic ass out of office; the very fact that she was "elected" serves as proof of the anti-democratic nature of ranked-choice voting and even if she weren't a total fucktard I would still question the legitimacy of her election. Do not under any circumstances accuse me of supporting the status-quo. Got it? Ok. Moving on.

And finally, the "don't blame us, it was outside agitators" excuse...

Ok, here we go again. This statement has turned from unfortunate, into pathetic, and is now downright stupid. You can't have it both ways. Let's examine the logical conclusions we can draw from such an excuse for a minute? If you want me not to blame you because of outside agitators then you are either 1) unable to control their infiltration into the movement or 2) unwilling to work on weeding them out or 3) some combination of 1 and 2.

If you are unable to control a relatively small band of violent outsiders then what on God's Green Earth makes you think you will ever be able to bring about change on the part of billionaires and their companies that control the government? And if you are unwilling to work on weeding them out then you are implicitly endorsing their presence and making a lie of your "don't blame us" statement. Because, folks, enough is enough. It is time to ask yourselves: do you actually want this movement to succeed or do you simply want to destroy the status-quo without building a more just system in its place?

Today the Internet is full of yet another round of defense of the movement from people who decry the violence perpetrated by the police: I am on your side with furious concern about the issue of violence. But let me ask you this: did the violent outside agitator-types respect the consensus praxis? Did they show up to yesterday's community meetings? Did they make their case? Did they ask you to vote to support violent anarchistic tactics yesterday? If they did then would you have voted to support their suggestion? If so then you are responsible for their violence. And if not then they have made a mockery of the consensus-democracy that Occupy seeks to implement. Read that last sentence carefully... these outside agitators who you are so quick to blame for the problems that they cause, have taken away your voice and subverted your vote for how Occupy should proceed. 

And let's be crystal-clear on something: I am not calling for armed conflict with the Anarchists. I am not calling on you to turn on them. What I am challenging you to do is to give them a chance to talk. Ask them, please, to stay away from Occupy Oakland. Ask them, as one radical group to another, to let you stand on your own and bring the Occupy movement forward without their involvement.

Several online Anarchists have been quick to reply to my statements against their tactics and beliefs lately, and I thank them for their principled responses. In particular, I humbly appreciate their honest willingness to discuss our differences without attacking me -- particularly with regard to an earlier posting on my blog, and a number of tweets in my Twitter-feed, where I furiously encouraged Occupy folks to turn on the Anarchists.

When it comes right down to it, I am asking everyone to behave like adults and to do better. I am asking the outside-agitator Anarchist elements to respect the will of the majority of the Occupy protestors. I am asking the Occupy folks to initiate a dialogue with the Anarchists and gauge whether they are willing to respect the will of the majority of Occupy folks who do not want Black-bloc and violent tactics in the movement.

What I am asking, in short, is for us to try to get along. Could we try that? Please?

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