Wednesday’s shooting during a practice for the annual Congressional Baseball game was unique not only because it put members of Congress under fire, but that the shooter seemed to espouse anti-Trump and anti-GOP ideas.
The first thing that impressed me was the quick response from Senator Bernie Sanders distancing himself and his movement from the shooter. A far cry from the silence from Trump and the GOP about how their rhetoric may have fueled the Portland stabber.
But, perhaps on the heels of the successes of Anti-Fascist activists at the “Stand Up to Sharia” events, the media is starting to put some focus on the more radical factions of the American Left.
Now there has been an “Insurrectionist Left” for several decades. I remember the anti-war rallies of the early 2000s conducted by ANSWER that would bring groups calling for the overthrow of American Capitalism. I count among my allies several self-described anarchists and communists.
But I would still like to think we are better than the Oathkeepers, etc. We can still put our faith in the electoral system, at least for the moment. We can rally and phone bank as opposed to arming ourselves for an insurgency.
Now that is not to say that our opponents will play nice. A recent incident at a Harrisburg, PA equality rally may show that Trump has given the bigoted a sense of power and invulnerability. This still may mean a change in tactics among the left, including needing to make greater use of Anti-Fascists for protection against both reactionary allies and police that from what I see far too often as protecting the reactionaries than the affected communities.
Yesterday, Harrisburg PA joined cities all across the country in the “March For Truth”, the event was a nationwide call for an investigation of the possible ties between Russia and the Trump Campaign and possible foreign entanglements Trump may have. The event itself went well, especially since it was the first event the organizer staged.
As we were tearing down from the event, a wedding party was on its way into the State Capitol. The Capitol is a popular place for weddings and other such events, but perhaps drunk with enthusiasm, alcohol, or a little of both, some of the party thought it would be fun to heckle us with chants of “Build the wall”. A fellow activist and I responded.
Even last year, the wedding party would have likely passed us by without incident. But Trump’s victory may have made the reactionaries feel a bit more empowered, a bit more bold. We have seen this in Montana, and most recently in Portland. My social media streams are full of videos of people of color and other minorities being harassed and worse.
I can’t help but think that perhaps the non-violence model of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi may not work so well against the current crop of “Deplorables”. The better model may be the “community defense” model of the original Black Panthers.
I am not saying non-violence is not effective in some circumstances, nor that it need be abandoned. But what harm would come from activists being trained to defend themselves or another from a threat, be that threat from a fascist, a police officer on an ICE agent.
While what the victims of the Portland stabbing were heroic, I can’t but wonder what, if anything they knew about how to disarm and/or subdue the attacker. That bit of knowledge may have saved their lives.
Trump’s first few months in office have been likened to many things. One that I have not heard is that he’s like a bear knocking various hives over. His actions have gone after; women, refugees, especially Muslim refugees, people of color, urban areas, the media, entertainers, and other groups.
His decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreements, likely a way to please parts of his rural base of support, added environmentalists to the list.
With all these various groups in various states of anger and outrage, what impact could be had if they could all form one “swarm”; combining resources and activists and tools and tactics.
Alas, as someone who has members of several communities as allies both virtually and in real-time, I see the obstacles to creating such a hive. Many of these groups do not agree with each other; a “Cult of Machismo” in parts of the African-American and Latino community may make building alliances with the LGBT community difficult. Organized labor and environmental groups have long had disagreements.
Rifts can also be tactical, groups that want to take a more direct action approach and those who seek solutions through the political process for example. I continue to see The Nation reluctant to fully back groups like It’s Going Down or the One People’s Project.
We who are concerned about the planet and its people and creatures, who want to see a fair and just economy, and see all this as possible need to realize we are against a common enemy. Wouldn’t it be great in November of 2018 to know that in January of 2019 that Congress would be buzzing with good, progressive, Democrats as majority in the US House and Senate.