Tag Archives: protesting

President Trump, Protest Organizer and Civil Disobedience Advocate

New Orleans  Here during our collective field test for the “end times,” we are all learning new and different ways to relate, individually and collectively.  In the absence of mass protest actions, ACORN and other groups around the world are of course using on-line petitions, as better than nothing, but recognizing its weakness. Organizations are creatively using car caravans where members are mobile, including tying up traffic by repeatedly circling a bank in Minneapolis.  One of our new branches in Lancaster, England, organized a 600-person rent strike to stop university housing payments.

And, then of course, there’s still “old school.”  Food riots have broken out in Cortez, Honduras, the port city along the Gulf of Mexico, and of course throughout India where food rations have been slow to move to starving people.  Joining the parade of protests from the top down rather than the bottom up is a new protest organizer from the very, very tippety-top, Donald Trump, taking a break from pretending to be president of the United States, formerly one of the most powerful positions in the world.   In breaking into this new role, he is also becoming an advocate of civil disobedience as many governors and mayors have noted since he is encouraging people to demonstrate against legally binding stay-at-home orders in these locations and to do so without practicing social distancing.

You might wonder how he’s doing in this new role as a protest organizer?  Not so well it seems.  The anti-shutdown actions in Michigan, Ohio, Colorado and a few other places have featured paltry crowds for the most part, rarely reaching even three figures.  One was larger because it was a rightwing and wingnuts unity rally of sorts including German swastikas, Confederate flags, and some US flags thrown in for good measure.  Some of his own political advisors were clear that it was not a good look.  Reportedly, this failing tactic has only won the support of only 26% of the public according to polls.  Only 36% in other polls support the full reopening of the economy in the states until the virus has significantly decreased and testing has correspondingly increased.

Trump’s hopes of stirring Tea Party like protests against mayors and governors faces some huge obstacles.  One is that some of his older base isn’t ready to put their lives on the line and take a chance of dying by crowding around and yelling at some governor.  The other is that the protestors are not facing some weeny politicians who cave at the first sign of conflict, but essential staff and responders.  Pictures from Colorado and other states of nurses in masks and protective gear standing in front of their hospitals and confronting the protestors yelling from their open windows have gone viral.

Trump is having trouble name calling a virus as a target.  He’s having even more trouble going up against nurses, doctors, hospitals, public health authorities, and local officials and rabblerousing his base with his demagoguery to go wave their flags to support business and the rich.  In his new role he needs to learn that putting together a protest is hard work and involves listening to people and understanding their needs and issues.  That’s hard for Mr. All About Me, who just wants to stand on his soapbox and shout.  Old school or new school, that never really works that well, as Trump will eventually realize when he goes back to trying to pretend to be presidential, rather than posing as a protestor against his own government.

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Please enjoy Fake Friends by L7 Featuring Joan Jett.

Thanks to WAMF.

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Has it Come to This?  “Free” Organizing Advice!

Doha       One corollary of constant long-distance road work is the magazine subscriptions pile up.  I usually take an inch-high stack with me, and on an endless flight to Katmandu that includes an unscheduled seven-hour delay in Doha, Qatar, mining the mags can produce some interesting discoveries.  One is that the mainstream media now believes it is perfectly positioned to give advice and critique basic organizing and protests.  We’ll have to consider whether that is a recognition of our skill or a slap at our lack of production and a critique of our weakness.  Maybe both, I’m not sure?  Regardless, it’s interesting to read their take on the work.

In a New York Times Sunday magazine piece, there was a story entitled “How to Organize a Walkout,” which of course caught my eye.  It turned out to be an interview of sorts with Meredith Whitaker, who they identified as the “lead organizer” of the 20,000-worker walkout at Google almost a year ago.  The summary of Whitaker’s remarks indicated she was solid on the basics, so this squib was almost a nuts-and-bolts “to do” list.  Sort of a
Walkout for Dummies” thing.  Among the nuggets were these:

“Know your colleagues; build trust; get together to articulate common concerns and a vision for change.  Avoid detection…Often a walkout is most effective as a response to ‘symptomatic flare-up.’ Decide on a nearby public space that can accommodate a crowd.  A morning start time is best, if you want to get media coverage; alert news outlets in advance.  Carry signs…Someone should be prepared to voice your demands, which is best done with a large megaphone….”

Got that?  The message from the Times seems to be “go do likewise,” but they also mention that Whitaker was pushed out by Google harassment, although they don’t mention that the NLRB fined Google for unfair labor practices in curtailing concerned activity and speech.

A weird, somewhat left-handed critique ran in a recent edition of The Economist where for the life of me they seemed to be waxing nostalgic for the good old days of violent miner strikes in “Bloody Harlan,” the famous county where so many of them occurred.  This was all prompted by a widely reported, though small effort, where some dozen to twenty miners and their families had blocked a coal train while trying to get Blackjewel to pay them their back wages as it hid behind bankruptcy.  This columnist couldn’t contain his glee in arguing that the original action had been greatly assisted by a bunch of anarchists who had come to help, and then in his argument the protest collapsed once there was a falling out with the anarchists over one of the miner’s support for Trump.  Who knows “who shot John” on this one, but it was much more widely reported that the miners had succeeded in getting the revenue from the coal train they had blocked promised towards their back wages?

My point remains the same.  What’s up with all this advice?  Is this a call to arms or just another catcall from the cheap seats?

 

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