After watching some video of the DNC/RNC protests, the ACLU of Washington members decided on Wednesday that “punk kids” were simply way too violent to have any effect or value in American society. The punk kids were “out of control”, they smashed windows, slashed tires, stopped traffic, and who knows, maybe even threw a little urine. “Would you look at the violence of the protesters? I think they are way out of hand. You need some explaining to do,” they told me. Every face in the room had a worried expression. Grumbles all around.
I was invited to speak at this ACLU meeting about my two arrests over the summer and to talk about the protests I was documenting. But instead I was harangued for not denouncing the political violence that took place in St. Paul. In fact, it seemed, I was standing up for political violence at the Republican National Convention when the protesters took to the streets, sometimes in a rowdy or boisterous fashion, to draw the world’s attention to crimes committed by the Republican Party. Indeed, I was standing up for that.
There used to be, and I think still is, a term for those who feel it is legitimate and maybe necessary for people, say, in colonies and occupied territories like Iraq or Palestine and elsewhere in the Third and Fourth Worlds to fight back and even die in the struggle against international imperialism, while intellectually exempting themselves from incurring the same risks or obligations at home in the imperialist-aggressor nation. Even while your nation may be plundering nations abroad and gradually installing a police state at home, if you break one bank window, it’s all over for you. I believe that word was, or maybe still is, “hypocrisy”.