New Orleans I find that people are working hard to figure it all out these days. In the way that squirrels gather acorns for the winter, I find myself nodding with interest and often approval at random comments that seem worth picking up as excellent points worth remembering and advice worth taking.
Walking Lucha this morning I noticed a sign in the window of an apartment on the block nearby that fits this description. It simply said, “Where are the cages for white immigrants?” Bon point, as my friends in France say. It is a mistake to assume that all of the undocumented immigrants in the country who have overstayed or are seeking asylum are brown or black, but where do you hear that story?
I have trouble focusing on the full score of candidates in the Democratic listings for president at this point. No one has voted. We surely have all learned by now that the so-called “money” primary cannot elect a candidate, as the close scare Clinton had from Sanders in recent memory. We must know from Trump’s success that the “media” primary of pundits and political talking heads can’t do so either. Still we are being herded into handicapping winners and losers, those ahead and behind in these early days. What do we make of shooting stars like Mayor Pete, and what are his real positions, anyway? Or, the falling star of Beto O’Rourke. I found a point made by Natalia Salgado, the political director of the Center for Popular Democracy Action, insightful when she was quoted int the Times saying, “Charisma will get you so far, it’s important obviously, that’s the sort of thing that can get you to float above the rest, but what is the thing that brings it home? Ultimately a movement cannot be built on something as fragile as another human being.” Important question? Valuable insight!
And, from Daniel Victor, a reporter for the New York Times, we learn something about tactics from the current Hong Kong protestors. He was asked, “How did the marchers use tech?” His answer was a door opening to a better understanding of the tactics of the future as he described the Hong Kong demonstrators, saying,
“The demonstrations thus far have been mostly leaderless – there’s no single person or organization deciding what comes next. Instead, they’re directly voting on what actions to take by participating in online discussion forums…. An individual will post with a suggested course of action, like protesting outside a specific building or at a specific time. Other participants will upvote or downvote the post, and when a post gets enough attention, they solidify those plans,
Another key difference is in how they have a far more hands-off approach to social media than any comparable effort in the United States would. Whereas a lot of demonstrations in the United States would be grist for selfies and Instagram-ready signs, protestors here are very concerned the government could identify their faces in photos and later charge them with crimes. Many hide behind surgical masks and would never post evidence of themselves taking part. They discourage people, even news photographers, from taking photos where faces are identifiable. It’s not built for gaining likes, and they trust exposure will come through the larger messaging.”
This is helpful as we read about drones and airplane surveillance by police in Baltimore and face-recognition software being used by security forces domestically and internationally. It is hard to imagine how organic, and I dare say, democratic, action planning is in Hong Kong if Victor is correct in his observations. In Hong Kong they are absolutely right to let their actions speak for the movement, not social media, so they may understand this better than others.
Is this the future? I don’t know, but in this work – and world – we learn something every day. We better pay attention in class, because the lessons are everywhere, if we are open to learning.