2011: Year of Resistance
By David Swanson
You say protests are outmoded because the corporate media ignores them (unless they're corporate sponsored). I say the corporate media is outmoded because it ignores protests.
The coming year is going to see intense resistance to the plutopentagonocracy from volunteer representatives of that majority of Americans that opposes its agenda. We are not going to ask for the media cartel's approval or permission. We are going to continue developing our own communications systems, which are already working well.
If we abandon the work of protest and resistance, those acts will soon be criminalized. If we abandon the work of self-communication we will each come to believe that the rest of us support that criminalization. There is another way.
William T. Hathaway's new book "Radical Peace: People Refusing War," tells true stories of people helping U.S. soldiers to desert and hide, chasing military recruiters out of schools, educating young people as counter-recruitment, caring for veterans, vandalizing recruiting stations, and burning unguarded tanks and airplanes. Many people will like some of these stories and not others. Personally I thought the Afterword was dumb enough to almost ruin an otherwise remarkable and wonderful book. The point is that these are stories that it is up to us to tell each other.
As I travel the country on a book tour I hear in about equal parts from people doing extraordinary things that nobody knows about and from people complaining that nobody is doing anything. We do not have an activism shortage so much as a communications shortage. People are engaged in civil resistance to the government, the banks, and the war machine in great numbers and with stunning creativity.
Since top aggressive war and torture lawyer Jay Bybee became a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which meets up and down the West Coast, he has sat in court few if any times without my friend Susan Harman in the room to protest him. She has become friends with the other judges who are increasingly aware that something must be done.
Were you aware of this? Did you know that students were being arrested for demanding living wages for university employees? Did you know veterans were being arrested at the White House for asking for peace? Did you know that foreclosure victims and journalists alike, when testifying in congressional hearings, were beginning to reprimand Congress? Did you know neighborhoods were preventing evictions? Did you know school districts were preventing the military testing of students? Did you know that most Americans in the corporate media's own polls favor policies depicted by that media as crazy and unpopular, things like peace, taxation of billionaires, green energy, public education and healthcare, and cuts to the military budget?
By understanding how many of us there are and how many are actively engaged, it can become easier to get involved or to remain involved, and to discover approaches that work for you -- and work for the rest of us. Here's a hint: taking a gun to a school board meeting doesn't fix anything. Shutting Congress down by blocking off its buildings with a human wall could. Our enemies are violence and silence. In 2006, according to then president George W. Bush's new book, the Republican minority leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell asked him to pull troops out of Iraq. We were that close, and nobody told us. They never tell us. They have yet to announce our ongoing success in preventing larger wars and in preventing the bombing of Iran. They never will. We have to make our own announcements.
But 2006 was the last moment in which Democratic-Party loyalists fully supported peace. Our task, therefore, is to develop activism and communication independent of political parties -- just as the other side does with its corporate front groups, tea parties, and Fox News; they support Republicans only when Republicans support fascism. One effort to build a counter-force to the Tea Party is called the Job Party: http://jobparty.org
But we need an alternative not only to Fox News but also to the rest of the corporate media. This is the easiest and most important project anyone can work on. The dream of persuading the labor movement (which can't even strongly oppose corporate trade aggreements when the president is a Democrat) to invest in a new television network should be abandoned. If the George Soros's of the world haven't figured out that there's a communications problem, they never will. But we already have what we need; we just need to make it bigger, and we can do so. We should invest in TheRealNews.com, Thom Hartmann, Free Speech TV, Link TV, GRIT TV, Democracy Now, Pacifica Radio, community radio stations, blogs and websites. We should make use of foreign outlets that, for their own reasons, are willing to provide decent coverage of US politics: Al Jazeera, ATN, RT-America, etc. Unsubscribe from the New York Times, stop contributing to any purchasing of ads in it, stop reading it, and read the Guardian online instead. Get connected online, and people will send you the occasional good article or video that all lousy outlets produce. Share that one further, but promote a good website that's hosting it, not the corporate source.
Above all, we must become the media we wish to see in the world. If you take action for peace or justice and do not make that news available online, you have largely failed. If you cannot make it available online, you can Email it to me at david at davidswanson dot org and I will post it at http://warisacrime.org
It's all well and good to stand up in book events and ask everyone to stop paying their taxes, as happens at nearly every event I speak at. But unless you communicate that people are doing that and why, the impact will not be felt. You can withhold the 50% of your taxes that goes to war, but the government will simply defund schools and housing. We have to set aside fears of egotism, fears of spelling things wrong (that never stops the tea party), or whatever other factors cause people to do the work we all need done and then hide it away.
Are you angry enough to put something hard and metal in your hand and go after your congress member? Make it a video camera. Stalk them with it. Sit in their office and refuse to leave until they stop funding Wall Street and wars. Make a movie of what happens and POST IT ONLINE. There is probably enough video footage currently aging in people cameras to save our republic, giving new meaning to the term camera obscura.
On January 11, Witness Against Torture will begin its protests of the policies symbolized by Guantanamo, which turns 10 that day. Come to Washington, D.C., or join in wherever you are.
On January 15, Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, the peace movement will mark 20 years of U.S. war on Iraq. Come to Washington, D.C., or join in wherever you are.
January 17 is both the official Martin Luther King Day and the 50th anniversary of President Eisenhower's speech warning of the military industrial complex. Events are being planned.
January 21 marks one year since the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" ruling handing corporations the power to spend unlimited funds on elections. Events are being planned.
To make this a year of growing resistance, we'll need to start it right. Every advance, from the ending of slavery to the establishment of women's rights, has looked absolutely hopeless until shortly before it was achieved. In fact, it has looked to most people INCOMPREHENSIBLE until shortly before it was achieved. While we no longer talk of good or bad slavery and good or bad rape, we still talk about good or bad wars. That will continue until we resist it sufficiently. There's no telling whether the amount of resistance still needed is large or small, but that it is both our moral responsibility and much more enjoyable than sitting home and grumbling is beyond dispute.
David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie," http://warisalie.org