“I Am The Angry Left.” — T-Shirt seen at demonstration outside RNC, September 2, 2008. *
A criminal trial against Eight American Patriots is about to start in Saint Paul. These eight patriots armed themselves with information and guts and planned to attack dogma and repressive politics at the Republican National Convention. They were arrested, treated like animals, and pressed with trumped up charges, including an accusation of terrorism under a Minnesota state law that mirrors the oppressive Bush Anti-Patriot Act.
This is a repost of a 2008 essay. The trials mentioned are finally over, but some of the ideas expressed here seem apropos the present situation
The right to free speech, the right to assemble, the right to bear arms, and the right to due process are fundamental tenets of the American System of Democracy. The Original American Patriots carried out civil disobedience that culminated in the design and ratification of the Constitution that guarantees these rights. Please understand the connection. The original American Patriots knew what they had to do, they did it, then they built a system that would allow future generations a means to do the same thing if necessary. They made the American system one open to self-criticism and progressive change.
The Bush Anti-Patriot Act and its paper minions across the states is nothing less than the undoing of the fundamentals of American freedom. Ironically, this has been done with the collusion of the poorly educated Libertarian and Rightist supporters of the conservative movement, who really, honestly, are primarily concerned with clinging to their guns and their religion, both protected by this same constitution they unwittingly dismantle. The right wing can be very smart about manipulating the preformed fodder for fascism that makes up the vast legions of Joe Six Packs.
And make no mistake: The Bush Anti-Patriot Act and its paper minions is the culmination of decades of effort by the Right Wing to create laws that allow an oppressive government to arbitrarily arrest, charge, jail, bug, and otherwise harass anyone who shows an iota of disagreement.
Thanks to this new approach to repression of Democracy in America, anyone who demonstrates even the intention of publicly disagreeing with the policies of the government can be arrested, charged, and possibly convicted of crimes against the state, and serve many years incarcerated. For attempting to express their opinion.
I am the angry left who knows some of these children. The so called Anarchists and the RNC Welcoming Committee are ragged tips of a vast, ill defined but potent iceberg of dissatisfaction and questioning among primarily younger people in the Twin Cities. In many cases there is a continuity between 60s activists (mom and dad) and people now in their 20s or 30s, often the organizers or facilitators. These are people who have carried a torch of modest and questioning radicalism, of the kind expressed by the likes of Patrick Henry or Benjamin Franklin. But the bulk of this thing that can barely be called a movement (it is more of an ’emergence’) consists of kids who went from the suburbs to college and found out that everybody has been doin’ it wrong for long enough that we’ve almost done ourselves in. And now these kids feel that things need to change. They are smart, they are motivated, and they are going to save us from ourselves.
I sat recently for coffee with a dear friend who told me of one young man who is the gentlest person she has ever known, who is so dedicated to a peaceful sustainable world that every step in his life is a conscious effort to make less of an impact on the environment. This young man is one of the Saint Paul Eight and has a reasonably good chance of spending five to ten years in prison, accused of planning civil disruption at the Republican National Convention.
There were already laws in place prohibiting certain kinds of unpermitted assembly, damage to property, threats to individuals, or bodily harm. But these patriots … the Saint Paul Eight … are being charged with conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism under the new, extraordinarily repressive Bush laws.
Conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism.
This is what demonstrating is called now. No. This is what planning to demonstrate is called now. Roll that around in your head for a few minutes, and if this does not send chills down your spine then perhaps you should have your conscience checked.
This is the outcome of about 40 years of consistent implementation of a not too secret right wing conspiracy congealed during eight years of the most oppressive and anti-American, anti-Freedom, anti-Democracy presidency we have ever experienced. There is a reason why so many people on the left, and in the center, and even on the centrist side of the right, are saying that this is the most important election in our life time.
This is the most important election in our life time.
It is a matter of survival of our way of life, of our basic values, of our democratic system, not to mention several important elements of that system such as education, affordable health care, social security, and a reasonable degree of peace among nations.
Listen to me:
There are too many close calls for you or me to be comfortable. There are only two weeks left. You must now abandon other activities, put down the rake, turn off the TV, cancel the trip to the cabin, forget about organizing your stamp collection for a while!
Find a Democrat running for office. Give this Democrat fifty bucks … a cheap price to save your ass from another four years of creeping oppression. Volunteer to work for the candidate. Phone bank, door knock, clean the damn kitchen in the campaign office while other people are phone banking. Whatever, just do something!
Where I live, we have the possibility of sending the first ever Democrat to the House of Representatives from this Republican-gerrymandered district. Aswin Madia‘s campaign is doing well for a guy who’s never run for office before, but the two front runners, Madia and a Republican named Paulson, are in a statistical dead heat. We need to get out the effort over the few remaining days to support Madia.
I’ve been working for Madia, but even more important here in Minnesota may be the election of Al Franken to the Senate seat vacated by Paul Wellstone and now held by one of the lowest of the low … Republican Norm Coleman. You must understand that if the Democrats do not hold 60 seats in the Senate, there will be no Obama. He might as well not even be there. All it will take is one Republican Senator to shut down any legislative action with a filibuster. You need to work to give the Democrats a filibuster proof majority in the Senate and a majority in the House.
The last time this happened, a lot of good things came of it, and every time the Republicans have had control over the last few decades, only bad things have happened.
Do not listen to those who tell you that it is best to have one party in charge in the house and one in charge of the senate, or one party running the legislature an one in the White House, or some other cockamamie idiocy. The same person who tells you that will also tell you “Oh, the politicians in Washington, they never get anything done.” Well. Duh.
Do not be swayed by those who claim that the left and the right are somehow symmetrical. Nothing could be farther than the truth.
Then there is El Tinklenberg running against Michele Bachmann. Say no more. Just do what you need to do.
And of course, Obama.
Voter, Citizen, Democrat: Don’t! Fuck! This! Up!
Obama is leading in the polls, but you must remember to vote! Obama is leading in the polls but do not be surprised at the October Surprise. He’s leading in the polls, but Al Gore actually won the election, and he did not get to be president! So don’t fuck it up, people. Watch. Work. Vote. Do not slack off in what looks like a pretty easy run to the finish in the presidential race.
You probably don’t live in my district, and you probably don’t live in my state. Find out what senate or congressional races need the help right now. I can tell you that the Franken – Colemen contest is among the most important going right now in the country, and I and everyone else in Minnesota would very much appreciate a donation to that (Franken, not Coleman!) campaign. You could look at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee web site for other ideas.
Finally, you can SUPPORT THE RNC 8 here, at this web site.
OK, everybody, make a fist. Everybody put your fists together in a big pile in the middle of the circle. OK, ready?
We’re goin’ in ,and we’re not coming up for air until we have VICTORY!
That is all.
5 thoughts on “I am the angry left”
The trials mentioned are finally over…
Its complicated. Mostly, overturned or vacated or whatever, with a few pleas for gross misdemeanors. And one law suit against the police just paid off.
Fairly happy endings, then.
Except we still have too many Repubs in office… 😛
Here’s hoping the Occupiers fare better!
What does Anarchist mean in this context? Is it a name you and your friends are called or one you identify with? Do you see yourself as the heirs of Abbie Hoffman? The IWW? Some other group or person? Do you work towards the end of government? The end of property? Do you take anarchism to refer to violent protest? Protest involving destruction of property? Or a particularly creative kind of non-violent protest?
Do any of the people in your emergent movement actively identify as hippies? What does that word mean to them?
And because I know you can’t read my mind, I will say that these are sincere questions. No set-up, no snarky comments up my sleeve, I promise.
I am not called an anarchist by anyone I know except one person. I don’t share many of the politics of the kids I’m writing about here, we overlap in only a few issues. I’m pretty sure anarchism is not the end of property or government (although yes to government as we know it and probably some serious changes in how property is handled), and none of the anarchists I know are violent in any way. Creative non-violent protest sounds about right.
Good question about identification with hippies. I’m not sure. It might be that for some people, hippie is a social state and anarchist a political orientation. I’m afraid that modern hippies might be hipsters and not just because of the first three letters of the name!