New Orleans When I used to call up Charlie Andersen, my home-garage, auto mechanic, about whether one or another of my beat up trucks was ready to be picked up, he’d always warn me by saying, “Don’t bring twenty; bring plenty!” There was rarely a better expression that could stand for one of the central commandments for organizers.
These are hard days to be protesters trying to speak truth to power. Those in positions of power and authority have a bitter core of violence bursting out almost everywhere. A woman communications professor, now fired, in the middle of a protest called out for reinforcements, saying, “Can I get a little muscle here?” A US Senator on the Judiciary Committee claimed they were going to handle any Obama Supreme Court nominee like a “piñata,” beating the pulp of them essentially.
And, then you have Donald Trump. He’s claimed he wished he wasn’t on the podium and could take a punch at a protester in one incident. He’s offered to pay the legal fees for his thumpers if they do take some swings. He’s hard-handled news commentators from his press conferences from Univision. He’s placed private security goons throughout his crowds now to muscle up on protesters.
I don’t want to even deal with the issue of how sad and pathetic it is to hear a 70-something year old man with a comb-over claim he could somehow land an effective punch on a 20-something protester, but I can’t help myself. Mr. Bully-Mouth can only be implying that he might still be able to take a swing at a woman effectively, and I’m not sure he wouldn’t have a butt whipping every way from Sunday by any young man or woman with 50 years on him.
But, let’s talk about the protesters because they might have more sense. I wonder if social media isn’t like a bad drug giving some folks the idea that they are one-person warriors. I guess there’s something to be said for the wild men and women who single-handedly have snuck into Trump rallies, raised their voices, posters or flags and then run the gauntlet of abuse and punches to get out of these rallies alive, but I can’t help wondering why that seemed like such a good idea for a night’s workout? In some places, New Orleans for one, there were a handful, but in others, it seems there were lone rangers. Why not travel in a pack? Why not bring twenty? Or, even better, bring plenty?
We need mass actions around racism and misogyny, not ones and twos speaking up before being chanted down.
This is an organizing opportunity and that, dare I say, trumps, the lone wolf tactics.
We don’t really need truth to power, as much as we need to show our “troops to power.”