The Anti-Olympics Demonstration and the Black Bloc.
I have never cared much for the Black Bloc, but the amount of hypocrisy about the "violence" of breaking a couple of bank windows this Saturday in the demonstration against the Olympics corporate welfare fest has almost made me sympathetic.
Tactical differences and criticism are legitimate. There are ethical and utilitarian aspects to any tactical choice and the BB's can be questioned about these. However, the bulk of hostility wafting their way has little to do with arguments about tactics. Many of the red-faced and bellowing crowd (1) simply hate "protesters" period and use the BB as an excuse to spout venom at any public critic of the system.
Those who rant about violence would be comical in the extremity of their hypocrisy if it wasn't just plain sad that people could be so blind and so deluded. A newspaper box was thrown through a bank window – you would think it the atrocity of the decade. Thirty million children die each year from malnutrition and bad water. If a few broken windows makes these folks apoplectic, how do they deal with this violence? How about the trillion dollars a year squandered on military foolishness while those same kids drop dead? Shouldn't that peeve these clowns enough to heat up the comments sections of the on-line forums?
So far I have seen accusations of cowardice against the BB's and at the same time calls for vigilante action against them (and also generic "protesters.") 20 unarmed, unprotected people take on hundreds of armed, body armoured riot cops. They may be nuts but cowards they ain't! The accusation of cowardice is actually psychological projection on the part of the right-wingers. What is a right-winger but someone filled with a host of irrational fears – of protesters, trade unions, feminists, environmentalists, peace activists, socialists, communists etc., all raised into towering bogey-men causing the poor little right-winger to practically piss himself in terror? A fair fight to a right-winger is a thousand to one – the lynch mob so let's drop all talk of cowardice.
I have actually heard it all before. Back in the 1960's we student radicals were attacked in similar terms. "Public opinion" turned apoplectic when the Yippies arrived on the scene and went off the Hate Mongers Richter Scale when a bunch of street kids destroyed a train load of brand new automobiles during the Blaine Invasion. (And you morons get your shorts in a knot over a couple of windows?)
The BB made me think of other violence that I witnessed during that time. I was in Berkeley in May of 1970 when Nixon invaded Cambodia. The students held a night demo and molotov cocktails were hurled at the ROTC building setting it on fire. Around the same time students in Santa Barbara burned the local Bank of America to the ground.
Now let's move away from the right-wing moonbat element and turn to one aspect of the tactical criticism of the BB. The notion that their actions will "turn people against the movement." No one other than right-wing fanatics reduces the movements of the 1960-70s to the most extreme or violent aspect of those movements. People are actually a lot smarter than that. Debate on the BB will have to move to other areas other than this, but that would have to be another time...
1. I got this image from living in Quebec. This is how most Quebecois see Anglo Canadians.