Before anyone even asks: Yes, I'm going to try to take the easy answer about the G20 protests in Pittsburgh last week: I think that the vandals at the heart of the Thursday night riots in Pittsburgh should be caught, arrested, jailed and made to pay for the personal property damages they did. However, I doubt they can be suitably punished for the far greater crime they committed: the damage they did to the legitimate causes they claimed they were working for is irreparable. Once again, ALL liberals and their ideas get demonized for the violence of a few. Thanks, you scum.
As if the news from the G20 protests wasn't already bad enough. For, as many expected it would be, the disparity of enforcement and coverage between DC and Pittsburgh was grave injustice that any Americans who cared to watch plainly saw--in the ways that the Sept. 12th anti-American government protesters were treated by DC police and lionized in the press, and the ways that the anti-global oppression protesters were tear gassed, rounded up, and pepper sprayed by the Pittsburgh police at said G20 Summit. Sound Cannons? OMG.
Now, I know, when I put in all those qualifications my easy answer isn't so easy to swallow. It's in fact the harder answer to make because it sounds like I am avoiding the $50,000.00 of property damages done by the vandals. What a terrible thing some people did in protesting for what they thought they believed in. It's almost as bad as shooting an abortion doctor for Jesus, while he's ushering at a church. No, not really.
But as supposedly liberal groups from the Weather Underground to Earth Liberation Front have had to admit: violence in protests damages more than the buildings razed or even the lives lost: it discredits the whole idea of a movement, the good the movement already had made or may have done, and all the good work of everyone else who is also working on that cause. Your group is now the demon whether the rest of you earned it or not.
Well, it's for certain your opposition will attempt to use it that way.
Ending the Vietnam War was in itself not a bad idea, but the violence of some of the protests against it turned the judgment of American history against those whom the events of history have proven right. But if you talk to Mr. and Mrs. America, those rotten dirty hippies were all worthless no-good-nicks who hated America.
History has again and again shown Americans were right to complain about some of the things our governments have done. It is not un-American to note that our country has often suffered through and had to work against the some type American governmental misbehavior and those who work to condemn the tyranny get demonized by government and the press as a rabble of no consequence.
In the Spanish-American War: business sentiment called for a war, the press whipped one up and we went on to slaughter Filipinos in the name of democracy far worse than their Spanish colonial masters had. Meanwhile, US government contractors' unscrupulous business dealing outfitting the war effort led to ten times as many GIs dying from food poisoning due to tins of tainted beef than those that died by a Spanish bullet.
In World War One, Wilson campaigns as a pacifist to get re-elected in 1916, then does an about-face and throws us into a war where huge numbers of righteously indignant Americans openly resisted the draft, so Wilson made it illegal to speak against the war in any way, which led to outrageous civil liberties oppressions. Afterwards, it was clear bankers and weapons manufacturers had trumped up the war for their own profits. Afterwards, people looked back on this folly and thanked their preferred deity we humans could learn from such mistakes.
And that's just two of the wars we said we'd learn from.
Yet when Iraq comes along the government with the aid of the press gin up some fake story about weapons of mass deception, demonize Saddam enough to where Americans want to wipe the whole of Iraq off the map, we jump on the bandwagon just like 1890s rubes. Then when the whole thing fizzles as it was bound to, we quibble over which act the underlings did that qualifies as torture and leave the policy makers alone when they were the ones who made decisions to destroy the lives of millions then consciously sold those decisions to the American public based on lies. Meanwhile, government contractors make billions while building showers so shoddy they electrocute our soldiers. We wind up killing Iraqis at a pace far greater than Saddam and his sons ever managed in their finest rape rooms.
Nowadays, climate change, fiscal regulation, peace in the Middle East and addressing religious violence are all worthy causes and most Americans would in themselves support some interpretations of these issues. But now due to the violence in the Pittsburgh streets so reminiscent of 60s era mayhem, each of those issues now will to some seem unjustly radicalized, suspect, un-American. And that is a mistake on our parts, both our people and our press.
Meanwhile, Wall Street is clamoring with excitement over their good news: strong 3rd quarter earnings will once again lead to outrageous executive bonuses for Wall Street, even though their business practices first impoverished the nation. Even though they enjoys their current fortune due to being propped up by the rest of us. So they are expected to spend as much as half of their earnings on compensations and bonuses. This year, Goldman-Sachs alone will have its profit measured in hundreds of billions. And where did they get that money? From the people they foreclosed the homes of.
And this doesn't even address the issues of climate change and ocean acidification. This list doesn't address the efforts of protest groups in Pittsburgh to call attention to China's civil rights abuses. You remember those? Tibet Conquest, Tiananmen Square, Prisoner organ harvesting, Falun Gong religious persecutions? Internet Censorship and governmental spying? The same old stuff we always said we hated. Remember how as children we were taught to always hate the Chinese governments for their inhumanity to their own citizens?
Until those governments became our favored trading partners and bankers. Now the American governments turn a blind eye. It's supposedly better for American business.
These concerns were just a fraction of the driving issues that pulled tens of thousands to Pittsburgh last week. All of them now with their reputations tarnished due to the violence of a handful of hateful zealots. As a liberal I must tell my readership how sorry I am to see such behavior in my name and in the name of causes I believe in.
I cannot imagine how shamed some of you must feel following the Sept. 12th rally, which came off like a rightwing hate fest. Surely those folks shown in so many photos with the racist treasonous signs were a miniscule minority among the 50,000-70,000 loyal American activists who converged on Washington to make their love of country known.
Well, I guess it must be hard to defend some of those images your movement is now associated with. I know how it goes. With some behaviors there are no easy answers.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.