The late peace activist Jerry Berrigan, or, rather, 30 life-sized images of him, joined a dozen people at drone base in upstate New York on Thursday to protest the "instruments of terror" and urge the military personnel there not to commit crimes against humanity and war crimes.
I am very familiar with Dan Berrigan and met the late Phil Berrigan. I never forget when back in 1998 at a protest against the bombing of Serbia, Phil seemed to have special permission to have a beer (while I was chewed out about having one) at the kitchen table of the officially "dry" Dorothy Day House in DC. But I must confess that I never heard of the "third" activist Berrigan, Jerry Berrigan, until I heard Amy mention him regarding this protest on DN a few days ago.
Many may disagree with me, but this just illustrates how, unless one is going to evoke magical forces, the passive and/or low-key kind of nonviolent resistance to war, including ploughshares tactics, simply does not work anymore (if it arguably ever worked) as a tactic. Perhaps back when there was still real journalistic media to give attention to the Berrigans, MLK, Gandhi, and others, but we live in an age where such actions are simply ignored. Even when Malachai Ritscher immolated himself by a busy Chicago freeway at rush hour protesting the Iraq invasion - in the manner of the the Vietnamese monks which got so much attention 40 years earlier - his act was totally ignored - not even treated to a short piece like a car crash fatality would. There eventually was a column in the opinion section of the (always awful) Chicago Trib ridiculing him.
What would these effective strategies and tactics look like? What can we do about the stark difference in the attention given to that the handful of right-wing armed cowboy rednecks, versus the hundreds of thousands in NYC and tens of millions peaceful protesters worldwide on February 15, 2003?
Sometimes it is really stunning. I was in DC on January 20, 2001 at Bush inaugural, and witnessed myself the enormous, angry gauntlet of protest on Pennsylvania Avenue - drowning out the marching bands and everything - that Bush traveled through that day. It would have been impossible for any media camera to NOT have captured it - yet through the magic of high-tech editing, the corporate media did no show or report the protest at all throughout the inauguration coverage that day and later days.
So, i would not blame anyone for concluding that maybe we need to take up guns like the the right wing does - but this would be the entirely wrong conclusion. The right wing armed cowboys were treated with such kid gloves because the government and law enforcement authorities largely agree with their ideology! If we on the left took up guns, we would not get more media attention, we would not get light treatment from the cops or FBI - because unlike the cowboys, the authorities and the media HATE socialism, anti-imperialism, anti-racism, and the left. we would be simply be gunned down - and then our deaths left unreported in the media.
I only offer one possible protest tactic that we should have implemented long ago. If the media is going to ignore us, then we need to make the focus of protest actions NOT governmental, legislative, or military faculties. We need to engage in actions - sit-ins, barricades, lockdowns, occupations and especially Anonymous-style, electronic internet denial-of-service attacks - targeted at the offices of the corporate media itself - the WP, the NYT, the Trib, the LA Times, the local and national network TV studios everywhere.
We are long overdue for a mass national day of disobedient action against the corporate media. Any of yunz at FAIR reading this?