save a little outrage for the real criminals

Everyone gapes in shock and horror because some idiots in Vancouver broke some stuff. OMG destruction of personal property! I find it much more significant that a full 1,000 people - and that's the mainstream media's count, so you know the crowd was really much larger - cared enough to greet the Vancouver Olympics with protest.

B-b-but they broke stuff! They were running around screaming! Oh the humanity. Meanwhile our taxes have been used to torture human beings and are being used every day to occupy another country, for oil and drug profits. If I saw half, no, a quarter of the outrage over Afghanistan as I do about a bunch of anarchists in Vancouver, I'd know we were on our way to getting Canada out of the war. If Canadians were half as concerned about our Prime Minister shutting down democracy as they are that all the protests are peaceful - gotta be peaceful, don't wanna disrupt the lovely peace - we'd have a different government by now.

This disconnect reminds me of some questions Edward Galeano has been asking.
The shoe-thrower of Iraq, the man who hurled his shoes at Bush, was condemned to three years in prison. Doesn't he deserve, instead, a medal?

Who is the terrorist? The hurler of shoes or their recipient? Is not the real terrorist the serial killer who, lying, fabricated the Iraq war, massacred a multitude, and legalized and ordered torture?

Who are the guilty ones - the people of Atenco, in Mexico, the indigenous Mapuches of Chile, the Kekchies of Guatemala, the landless peasants of Brazil - all being accused of the crime of terrorism for defending their right to their own land? If the earth is sacred, even if the law does not say so, aren't its defenders sacred too?

According to Foreign Policy Magazine, Somalia is the most dangerous place in the world. But who are the pirates? The starving people who attack ships or the speculators of Wall Street who spent years attacking the world and who are now rewarded with many millions of dollars for their pains?

Why does the world reward its ransackers?

Why is justice a one-eyed blind woman? Wal-Mart, the most powerful corporation on earth, bans trade unions. McDonald's, too. Why do these corporations violate, with criminal impunity, international law? Is it because in this contemporary world of ours, work is valued as lower than trash and workers' rights are valued even less?

Who are the righteous and who are the villains? If international justice really exists, why are the powerful never judged? The masterminds of the worst butcheries are never sent to prison. Is it because it is these butchers themselves who hold the prison keys?

What makes the five nations with veto power in the United Nations inviolable? Is it of a divine origin, that veto power of theirs? Can you trust those who profit from war to guard the peace?

He has many more questions. Read them here.

We should worry less about orderly streets and more about deceitful government. Less about the conduct of protesters and more about what they're protesting.


Dr.Dawg said...

Galeano is my favourite author, bar none. And he's spot on.

But we can't generalize. I agree with every word he says here. But that doesn't mean that every action moves us forward, and that all violent action is justified.

I fail to see how a few kids breaking windows a) bring workers over to our side; b) put a roof over the head of a single homeless person; c) threaten the capitalist system. It's nothing but petit-bourgeois self-indulgence.

One can love Galeano (as I do) and still separate good tactics from bad ones. Throw Alinsky into the mix (Rules for Radicals) and hell, Mao too:

Communists must never separate themselves from the majority of the people or neglect them by leading only a few progressive contingents in an isolated and rash advance, but must take care to forge close links between the progressive elements and the broad masses. This is what thinking in terms of the majority means.

"The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War" (October 1938), Selected Works, Vol. II, 201.

L-girl said...

But that doesn't mean that every action moves us forward, and that all violent action is justified.

Of course not.

I'm not justifying the violence in Vancouver or defending it, as you can clearly see in this post.

I am, however, disgusted at so much outrage and handwringing over a few petty criminals, when the real criminals are running the country and most of the world.

L-girl said...

I am, however, disgusted at so much outrage and handwringing over a few petty criminals, when the real criminals are running the country and most of the world.

In similar fashion, most Canadians seemed horrified when Tamils and their sympathizers blocked roads and highways, but had very little outrage for the genocide their people were suffering at home.

Dr.Dawg said...

Well, I'm living proof that I have plenty of outrage for the mega-criminals. Perhaps it's for that reason that I get irritated with counter-productive tactics that objectively strengthen them.

L-girl said...

I mean among the general public. Obviously many of us are living proof, myself included. I mean something more widespread.

redsock said...

Who says these property-smashers were even legit protesters? Were any of them wearing special-issue police shoes?

L-girl said...

I've been thinking that all along. The only reason I didn't include that in the post is that the serious protesters in Vancouver aren't saying it, and I'm assuming they would know. (They've been infiltrated repeatedly, and have been hip to that all along.)

But that doesn't mean it's not the case.

Dharma Seeker said...

That's a great quote Dr.Dawg, I wholeheartedly agree with it.

Mike said...

Well come on there was property damage here in this country to one of our cherished billion dollar multinational corporations, not to some strange brown people on the other side of the world who probably deserve it. Why, just think of the pain of the poor newspapers whose boxes were dragged into the street. We can't have violent protests in this country, protests should be peaceful and easily ignored by the media and not at all inconvenient to the general public, you know ineffective.
Seriously though, I think the problem of getting the message out is quite the can of worms. We have 24/7 propaganda saturation by the corporate consumer agenda, how does any contrary viewpoint get heard without creating a scene?

L-girl said...

I hear ya, Mike.

Despite the truth in what Dr Dawg says, despite the tsk-tsking from all points on the political spectrum (not to mention the apathy spectrum), despite the seemingly random nature of the spectacle... I understand why people make that fuss to be heard.

All protest can be dismissed as "petit-bourgeois self-indulgence" if that's how we want to see ourselves. No one tactic puts a roof over the head of anyone or threatens the capitalist system. But it may all be cumulative.

Anonymous said...

There are a number of people, including myself, who are pissed about Harper shutting down Parliament. I've also DONE something about it, namely, organized a rally. But I am also pissed at "protesters" in Vancouver who are causing damage. They do not get a "free pass" because you agree with their motives. They make all demonstrations look bad and they significantly destroy their ability to influence ordinary Canadians. Mob mentality is well documented and excusing broken windows is ridiculous. It's either a crime when EVERYBODY breaks windows, or when NOBODY breaks windows. Laws don't just apply to people you disagree with.

L-girl said...

I have no idea if I agree with the window-breaker motives or not, because I don't know what their motives are.

I don't think all laws should be upheld at all times - such as during organized civil disobedience (which was not occuring in the incidents in question). I mention this because I disagree with the blanket statement that all laws apply to all people at all times.

If you're angry about prorogation and you've done something about it, then this post does not apply to you.

Thanks for stopping by.

L-girl said...

Mob mentality is well documented

What does this mean?