Skip to comments.Political Theatre of the Absurd (Even the left is sick of Code Pink!)
Posted on 03/19/2008 8:39:10 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
A few months ago, a day before one of the occasional marches the Capital sees demanding an end to the Iraq War, I began the descent into the Metro stop near my office, looked up, and saw a number of representatives of Code Pink standing at the railing overlooking the escalator. Or rather, I heard them first. They were screaming at the parade of commuters, at the top of their lungs and in a tone somewhere between simple frustration and righteous anger, "End the war!!!"
Well, I thought, that ought to take care of things. Good work, hippies!
I kid -- heck, some of my best friends are hippies. But that bit of fruitless shouting at Washington's Dupont Circle Metro station came to mind because last month, the Berkeley City Council touched off a controversy by issuing a declaration against a Marine recruiting station in town, calling the recruiters "uninvited and unwelcome intruders." While the council couldn't just evict the Marines, it did the next best thing: It gave Code Pink, possibly America's silliest anti-war organization (you've seen them disrupting hearings on Capitol Hill, yet another masturbatory piece of political action) the parking space in front of the recruiting center to hold its endless vigil, which if nothing else might make the sidewalk a little clearer. I'll see your pointless street theater, said Republicans in Congress, and raise you a piece of pointless legislative theater; they quickly introduced a bill to strip Berkeley of federal funds it receives and transfer the money to the Marine Corps.
And this week, which will see the fifth anniversary of the start of the war, Code Pink plans to "step up the pressure," as its leader Medea Benjamin said. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "Code Pink has a full roster of activities planned for the week, including: yoga every morning at 8:30; organic potlucks every noon; nightly movies and popcorn; a bike ride around Berkeley on Tuesday; an open-mike musical jam on Wednesday; and a 'send-off' to the Marines on Friday, when protesters will bring suitcases and pink berets for traveling." How the Bush administration will be able to resist is anyone's guess.
At times like this it's hard not to wonder whether Code Pink and the Berkeley City Council aren't agents provocateurs, a kind of self-parody strike force sent by Dick Cheney to discredit opposition to the war. Four months ago, I praised the Berkeley City Council when it passed a creative plan to help residents install solar-energy systems in their homes. But for every piece of innovative thinking, there seem to be a dozen pieces of idiocy. Instead of asking themselves, "Is there anything we can do to make our schools better?" the council members ask, "Is there anything we can do to protest the war?" The answer is no. You're the city council of a small city in California. How about you take care of the potholes and worry about the war on your own time?
Those unfamiliar with the particular sociopolitical dynamics of the city of Berkeley might be surprised to learn that this opinion is not uncommon among those who step around dreadlocked trustafarian 20-somethings on their way to grab a coffee at Peet's. Even Berkeley has its own silent majority, strongly progressive to be sure, but well grounded in reality. Those in that majority go to their jobs, raise their kids, and shake their heads and smile at the antics of the city's more colorful denizens. They wish their city council would spend less time making statements about the world's problems and more time solving the city's problems.
But instead, Berkeley's officials act as the enabler of groups like Code Pink. And the conservative media, where hatred of hippies is the fuel that makes the broadcast towers buzz with electricity, has been eating it up with a spoon. And why shouldn't they? It validates so much of what they've been saying about the left for years. In one exchange on "The O'Reilly Factor," guest host (and prominent conservative radio talker) Laura Ingraham actually tried to talk some sense into Medea Benjamin."So Medea," she asked, "at this point, you think that Code Pink is actually helping the anti-war movement? Because I can tell you, even with the country divided over the war, conservatives that I know, every time you pull one of these stunts, like trying to prevent, you know, people from just talking to people and giving them information, the conservatives are all happy because you guys just make total fools out of yourselves."
If nothing else, progressives can take heart in the fact that relative to the extremists on the right, the fringe elements on the left are utterly harmless. The occasional eco-vandal notwithstanding, these days radical leftists don't stockpile weapons, they don't bomb federal buildings, and they aren't plotting the overthrow of the government. There was a time when leftists did such things, of course, but decades have passed since the Weathermen and their ilk passed into history. Our extremists may be ridiculous, but they aren't hurting anyone. Except, that is, for the causes they advocate and the progressive movement itself.
Political participation takes many forms, and it is not possible to draw clean lines between activity that is primarily instrumental (undertaken for the purpose of affecting a specific and achievable goal) and activity that is expressive (undertaken to just make one's voice heard). The band of nincompoops protesting outside the Marine recruiting center in Berkeley certainly have a specific goal in mind: They want to end the Iraq War, and make the American government more reluctant to use military force in the future. But when a certain distance is reached between the goal and the means employed to achieve it, the activity becomes almost entirely expressive. The idea that yelling at a couple of Marine recruiters week after week might have some actual impact on the speed with which we leave Iraq is so absurd one wonders whether even the participants believe it, assuming that most of them are in full possession of their faculties.
But that's not why they're there. They're there because it makes them feel good. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. That's why all of us do most of what we do; even the most altruistic of actions give us an internal satisfaction that provides the incentive for the next good deed. But it becomes a problem when you hurt the cause you're trying to help, particularly when there are actual opportunities for effective action.
Technological advancement, particularly the rise of the Internet, is bringing about a renaissance of grassroots activism on the left, yet there are still many people who believe that if there is a problem you want addressed or a policy you want changed, the only thing to do is to gather as many people as you can in a public place to hold signs and perform call-and-response chants. "What do we want? To feel like we're accomplishing something! When do we want it? Eventually!"
What worked for the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s is not going to work today. And the truth is that comparing the civil-rights marches to a bunch of people carrying signs with "No more war!" on one side and "Free Mumia!" on the other is an insult to everyone who took part in the civil-rights movement. The civil-rights activists weren't just looking to feel good about themselves. The political actions they undertook were carefully planned and well executed. They knew exactly which levers of mass and elite opinion they needed to press and how to do it. They weren't trotting off for a Sunday to hang with some friends and speak their minds -- they were engaged in a deadly, serious enterprise, one with enormous personal risks, and they approached it with the seriousness it required.
Any effective political movement has to engage its participants in a way that makes them feel their contributions are meaningful and redefines their sense of self. But if those contributions aren't actually meaningful, if they amount to an extended series of circle jerks that accomplish nothing, then the movement will inevitably be confined to a small group of self-deluding members with a lot of time on their hands. There are tens of millions of Americans who want to end the war in Iraq. But how many of them see something like Code Pink protesting a Marine recruiting station and say to themselves, "I want to be a part of that"?
"...progressives can take heart in the fact that relative to the extremists on the right, the fringe elements on the left are utterly harmless. The occasional eco-vandal notwithstanding, these days radical leftists don't stockpile weapons, they don't bomb federal buildings, and they aren't plotting the overthrow of the government." Guess he didn't hear about the Times Square recruiting center bombing, which isn't surprising, since it got nearly zero airplay in the MSM.
He gives good advice: Thank God they won't listen and heed it!
When sent for six harmless, except for still voting for democraps ...
This guy must have never heard of the 60’s and all the lefty bombings that went on.....then there is the lefty environutball that sent mail bombs to several people in the eighties and early 90’s.
There’s an SNL skit in there somewhere.....
The Pinkos and their enablers, the Berkeley City Council, are all morons.
Interfering with the US Marine Corps responsibility to defend this country, sure seems to meet the standard of subversion to me. You are correct, they are morons. But more importantly, they are saboteurs and they are providing aid and comfort to our enemies.
This should not be taken lightly. Some of these idiots need to be maken an example of and sent to prison for 20+ years. Voicing your opinion is protected speech, assaulting a federal office is not. Lock them up. The federal government has the responsibility and the authority to conduct one of the few legitimate functions it provides.....DEFENSE.
As you said, ....morons.
I saw this coming way back in the 60s.
I vote we send them to SA to protest at the original site of the ones who FIRST declared WAR 1400 years ago!
Today was protest day on Market Street in San Francisco. The “activists” fell into two categories - 50 and 60 somethings of the warmed over hippie variety and the slimy kids. Most of them were suburbanites. We saw a few of them on the morning train, looking confused on BART. The young ones were shrill but some of the oldsters could be engaged in conversation, at least until you asked a question like “So do you want to see another Cambodian genocide in Iraq or Afganastan?” Then they went off.
One group was passing out “STOP The War Now” kits. Paper bags printed with the words “Stop The War Now” in (what else) red. I took one (they must have cost George Soros something to make up) and fund that they contained the following:
— One chocolate Easter Egg (Nobody at the office would touch it.)
— One red, white and black “Stop the war now” sticker
— One green pamphlet that asked “What would you do with a trillion dollars (get far away from San Francisco) and denounced various corporations from the Carlyle Group (currently experiencing financial difficulties) to Blum Capital Group (not experiencing financial difficulties as long as the owner’s wife is a US Senator).
— One pamphlet entitled “What Every Girl Should Know About The U. S. Military” Headed “Consider this before you enlist”.
— One flier from the Quaker Peace and Justice Center entitled “RESIST WAR TAXES”. (Paging the IRS.)
— One heavy paper flier from a group called Peace&JusticeNow” (no spaces) dated 2005 encouraging us to all get active and providing a list of loony toons organizations and their web sites and e-mail addresses on the back.
— A pamphlet from the American Friend’s Service Committee entitled “One Day of the Iraq War” explaining how expensive the war is, things like “One Day of the Iraq War = 12,478 Elementary School Teachers”. The nice lady handing the kits out became rather upset when I explained that even though I was very critical of public education I thought it was wrong for the Quakers to be advocating selling elementary school teachers and that I didn’t think any of the things on the pamphlet were as valuable as a day’s worth of dead terrorists.
— A mauve flier (it is San Francisco) with a cool map of Iraq on the front and a multiple choice quiz on the back with questions like “How many Iraqi refugees has the US accepted”. Answers: 750, 100,000, 725,000, 1,700 (curiously, “Too Many” was not among the answers.)
— A flier entitled “Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) and San Francisco Public Schools Fact Sheet” that explained how terrible it was that SF public schools where permitting high school students to learn discipline and leadership skills while preparing for a career in the service of our country.
— One plastic toy soldier packing an M203, shackled to a paper label that said “Support Our Troops - Bring Them Home”. I freed him from his shackles and he is now pulling guard duty above my cubical.
The crowds were not as large as in the past (maybe 8 or 10 kiloloons) but to their credit they was much less of a nuisance. At lunch time I paid the bag piper who hangs out across the street five bucks to play “Gerry Owen”. The demonstrators seemed to enjoy the tune. Nobody ever said leftist were smart.
“At lunch time I paid the bag piper who hangs out across the street five bucks to play ‘Garry Owen’.”
And I hope he played it well — he probably got in a lot of practice playing it a few dozen times this last weekend (it’s always a popular request around St Pat’s Day).
Liberalisn is a disease.
Liberalism is a disease best cured by a warm Draino enema.
They have no 'faculies.'
Code Pink aren’t harmless. They establish more and more extreme far left positions, which help create and support the illusion that dangerous leftists like Obama and Clinton are actually moderate.
Ted Kasczynsky was a fringe element on the left. He murdered people. So are the eco-terrorists. They've murdered people too.
Seventh Calvary Version (Garry Owens)
We are the pride of the army,
And a regiment of great renown,
Our names on the pages of history,
From sixty six on down.
If you think we stop or falter,
While into the fray were goin
Just watch the step with our heads erect
When our band plays "Garry Owen."
In the Fighting Sevenths the place for me.
Its the cream of all the cavalry;
No other regiment ever can claim
Its pride, honor, glory, and undying fame.
We know no fear when stern duty
Calls us far away from home,
Our countrys flag shall sagely oer us wave,
No matter where we roam.
Tis the gallant Seventh Cavalry,
It matters not where were goin
such youll surely say as we march away,
When our band plays "Garry Owen."
Then hurrah for our brave commanders!
Who lead us into the fight.
Well do or die in our countrys cause.
And battle for the right.
And when the war is oer
And to our home were goin
Just watch the step, with our head erect,
When our band plays, "Garry Owen."
I've always enjoyed that tune, but I never knew it's origin or history. It was the marching song for General Custer's Seventh Calvary. Later history made the song title to reflect a man's name.
The song (original lyrics sang) is also used in this UGMF Air Calvary recruitment video.
There is also a song called "Garry Owens (Sargent Flynn)" - that is a military song, but I'm sure this isn't the song the bagpiper played.
My brother is a Col at Cent Com. He had a real chuckle over this story when I told him about it this morning. lol
“End the War” Its not up to them its up to the President.