Monday, April 02, 2007

About Tacoma

And the recent protests there.

I for one didn't support it happening in the way it happened because there wasn't sufficient local networking and support for the protest. SDS carried a lot of the weight but the Tacoma port protests weren't an organic outgrowth from Tacoma activism--instead, they depended largely on energy transferred from Olympia to Tacoma. Olympia had been preparing for another port protest for a while, they had a comprehensive plan on reaching out to the Olympia community in order not to be alienated from them or to alienate them if at all possible. When the shift of the Stryker deployment to Tacoma was made it looked like what happened was that all that was scrapped and instead Olympia and the Olympia activist community just moved up the road to Tacoma, to a place where, about a week before the protest started, the Tacoma Port Militarization Resistence quote "Barely existed". This sets a really bad precedent and not only that but is essentially playing with fire. Eventually, the strategy of Olympia acting like a vanguard is going to end in massive resistence from whatever community Olympia activists are present in, to the point that the idea of outsiders coming in against the will of the community will overshadow what positive political good that the demonstration would have accomplished.

I wish Tacoma PMR well and hope that they'll be able to do the basic organizing needed to firmly cement their organization, but object to the precedent that this may be setting.

Here's a question in passing, then I'll get back to the argument: Was there anything at all done in Tacoma to outreach to the greater Tacoma community once the protests started? Doesn't have to be big, just one or two things would do. I'm just wondering.

Back to the argument:

An example: a few years back some people from Evergreen attended and tried to block the local "Aryan Fest" parade in Coeur d'Alene Idaho. What could be more righteous? Blocking neo-nazis from parading down a street and trying to garner support for their cause is pretty high up there. However, the people of Coeur d'Alene, who weren't necessarily supportive of the Nazis, turned on the protesters because they weren't from their town, they were from Western Washington, they were dressed in the conventional hippy gear, complete with dread locks, and they didn't represent these people. Stopping Nazis is righteous, so is preventing people getting killed in Iraq, but sometimes there need to be other factors taken into account when deciding if that moral righteousness alone justifies doing something.

1 comment:

sdser said...

Hi, I was at the port of Tacoma protests and I just wanted to let you know that there was outreach to the Tacoma community. A few carpools of folks went to TCC, UPS, UWT, and through some downtown neighborhoods distributing leaflets and talking about the event and what we were doing. There were mass emails sent to all kinds of Tacoma groups as well. Thanks for reporting on the event, I appreciated your perspective. PS. I'm from Tacoma. :)