02 September 2008

Democracy Now? Apparently Not

Here's an item from MSNBC on the arrest of the Democracy Now! radio host Amy Goodman and two of her staffers on rioting and obstruction of police charges. Here's a YouTube video of the incident.

Things seem to be a little rougher in St. Paul than in Denver, on the part of both the police and the protesters. If mainstream media reports can be believed, demonstrators have been physically attacking delegates. The next voice you hear will probably be spokespersons for the "real" protesters saying that black-clad brick-throwing types are government-planted agents provocateurs doing their usual work to discredit the movement. The truth is that widespread anger at the Republican party is bound to spill over, and that it's a short step from demanding the right to confront Republicans to escalating any confrontation to a physical level. Violence should not discredit protest movements, unless you think that the American people are obliged to stand everything the powers that be dish out. If violence discredits all dissident movements, then we all ought to bow to Queen Elizabeth. Since we don't (most of us, at least), we must assume that sometimes passive acquiescence or even passive resistance won't cut it in oppressive circumstances. Violence in the streets of St. Paul, even on the small scale we've seen so far, requires more than a knee-jerk condemnatory response. It may prove that the violent ones are just having a tantrum because they don't have political power or they hate Republicans, but that shouldn't be assumed. If there's an argument to be made for revolutionary violence, it's probably being made in the wrong place this week, but we should still judge it on its merits for ourselves.

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