Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.
- Walter Sobchak, The Big Lebowski
I've spent part of my day reading McSweeney's Daily Reason To Dispatch Bush. I highly recommend it to those who aren't fans of "El Jefe" Bush II. It provides nice, bite-sized bits of information about how the current Administration has apparently been up to no good with references to articles by major news organizations. (Most of these, however, are not Fox News and therefore are not "fair and balanced" -- that phrase and its use by Fox still makes me think that Edward R. Murrow is spinning in his his grave.)
The bulk of my political thoughts lately have been devoted in a different direction, however: the Republican National Convention. Or rather, not the convention itself, but instead the protests by anarchists who want to cause mayhem in New York City while the Convention is underway. Evidently all sorts of rumors of sit-ins, civil disobediance, police brutality, riots, and distruction of property are floating around. All with the apparent goal of just showing the Republicans that people out there are angry.
While I am in favor of people exorcising Constitutional rights to assembly and free speech, I fear that these protests will backfire if they turn violent. As the radical liberals of the 60's found out at the '68 Democratic Convention, violence may do nothing but embolden Conservative Republicans and persuade the notorious "swing states" that the Republicans represent good, decent "law and order." Sadly, I don't think country can stand four more years of Republican law and order.
I've seen this sort of thing before. During my long tenure in graduate school, I put up with the disruptive effects of more than one student protest. A number of these protests were over statewide ballot measures that I, and the other students, generally voted against. It wasn't the protests themselves that bugged me, as their aims -- disruption for disruption's sake. You see, a little check of the voting record shows that the county where I and the other students lived generally voted these measures down, usually by about 80-90% of the vote. The protesters were doing nothing but preaching to choir and getting themselves on TV.
So it is with New York. Yes, New York City has a Republican mayor and New York State has a Republican governor... but they are both moderates compared to the ideological zealots in the White House and New York is a firmly "blue" state where Kerry leads by a significant margin in the polls. So, aside from pissing people off and getting some skulls cracked by cops, will these protests change the minds of New Yorkers? Likely not.
I swear so many people don't get it. In a democratic republic like the United States, the power of one person by themselves is practically zero. It is when one person can organize many others and deliver the votes of those people that people become strong. So as I have no doubt said before and will say again, all this "my non-vote is a protest" is "bovine scatology." It's the lazy way out.
So to all the angry young anarchists out there, I say this: if you are going to go out and organize something, try something a little more constructive. Vote yourself. Encourage lots of other people to vote. Make sure that lots of other people can vote. Read a little history. Brush up on your Constitution. Go to the Mid-West and peacefully protest there. Raise awareness. Create web sites.
They say that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. If that is the case, let us review the recent history of anarchist violence. 1901 -- President McKinley killed by an anarchist assassination. 1916 -- Nephew of the Austro Hungarian emperor killed by anarchists, precipitating World War I. Need I say more?
on 2004-08-20 at 4:40 p.m.
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