Pro-Cop Editorial a Bit Confused On Anarchism

Chuck0's picture

by Kadd Stephens

I realize you likely have nothing to do with the submission from Mr. Katul, which appeared recently, characterizing anarchists in the Eugene area as a hate group. While I know neither the anarchists there, or My. Katul (I live in DC), I read the piece and felt that it warranted a response that had some rooting in reality.

First of all, the fact that store owners have felt it necessary to put up signs indicating that they're local is not, at all, comparable to putting up signs about one's ethnicity. The nature of one's economic operation is a matter of policy and practice -- not one of immutable genetic traits which one has no control over. It's comparable to workers in the local Giant supermarket in my neighborhood donning buttons which display their union membership, so as to encourage patronage by those who support union workers. Granted, perhaps the store owners in Eugene have chosen to display such signs because of fear of some reprisal. Again, the issue of self-control comes up again. These businesses have consciously chosen to remain local and loyal to the community which supports them. Others have not, and whether Mr. Katul likes it or not, they have consciously chosen a practice which angers a great majority of the world's population. The signs would likely be up if the anarchists had successfully initiated a city-wide boycott of corporate, non-local businesses, as well -- the self-same tactics which Mr. Katul alleges to be so fond of.

Secondly, one should be careful about characterizing property destruction as violence. By elevating property to the level of sanctity afforded living beings, we cheapen the impact of REAL violence. If we, as a society, were to prioritize the property value of a B-1 bomber over the lives of the people it was designed to maim and kill, I think we would all have to seriously consider re-evaluating our moral fiber. When it comes to corporations (many of whom are guilty of the same acts of violence carried out by governments), we frown on the active engagement of such values. A moralistic doulbe-standard conveniently beneficial to the corporate globaliztion that is coming under fire these days. Moreover, such forms of resistance are interwoven into the patriotic history of this country -- Mr. Katul apparently missed 4th grade history the day that they discussed the Boston Tea Party.

It is curious that Mr. Katul (as a representative of the local police) would suggest that these young people should resort to the nonviolent tactics of peaceful movements of generations before -- these same movements were horribly brutalized by police, despite their commitment to nonviolent tactics. This police response continues today -- as lawsuits all over the country (including here in DC) are pending against law enforcement agencies for such charges as Conspiracy to Violate Constitutional Rights and various acts of brutality, not to mention that the US was recently cited for violations of international human rights law because of its gratuitous use of tear gas and pepper spray against its own citizens (an act considered torture by Amnesty International). Also curious is the fact that nonviolent protest groups have come under fire recently as law enforcement agencies have been lobbying heavily for a re-structuring of the official guidelines of what constitutes a "terrorist organization", so that groups like Greenpeace, ACT UP, etc. can be more easily infiltrated (a clear violation of basic constitutional protections). So which is it? Are these people supposed to engage in sit-ins and be teargassed, beaten, and unjustly arrested and harrassed, or are they to do what they feel is necessary (including the destruction of corporate property), and expect the same treatment? Nowhere in Mr. Katul's commentary did he suggest that the police would follow procedure consistent with constitutional guidelines should the tactics of these activists change to his liking. In fact, he merely employed the same vague, unaccountable rhetoric that law enforcement always engages -- "we will protect free speech" -- while carrying out acts of torture that show up on reports filed by independent human rights observers. The context of such ridiculous statements is enough to alarm even a ten year old.

The issue of divisiveness is clear in this instance -- Mr. Katul utilized rheotric reminding us of Nazi holocaust victims and people of color terrorized by the Klan. This is likely the most dramatic tactic available in terms of division -- the holocaust being perhaps the most universal psychological anchor in terms of history and terrorism. The intent was clear: Allign the anarchists with nazis (incidnetly, Spanish anarchists were among the first to resist Franco's rise to power -- an event which fortified Hitler's foothold in Europe -- a resistance that the US turned a blind eye to), and let the public's psychology do the rest. What's more illuminating is Mr. Katul's resort to such an example, while demonizing those he characterizes as defiant of authority. When the Germans allowed Hitler to come to power, and watched millions of people led off to torture and extermination -- they were obeying the law. Plain and simple. Rather than exercising the same moral responsibility that the Eugene anarchists see themselves as inspired by, they obeyed the law, and thus acquiesced to unthinkable atrocities. Any scholar of history would likely reccomend these young folks for serious study as an example of the moral outrage we all wish had been expressed during the holocaust.

In short, I'm surprised that a professional news publication would allow such an historically inaccurate, politically and morally unsophisticated, and psychologically divisive commentary to run. Then again, if it weren't for the mainstream media's blind frenzy over the Gulf of Tonkin assault (which we now know to be a fabrication of the US government), we likely never would have had to watch thousands of our children die in Vietnam War. Congratulations for following suit.

Kadd Stephens, Washington DC


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