Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Musings: Anger Is An Energy

I wasn’t sure if I imagined the rain I heard in the night, so deeply was I immersed in the world of dreams, but Koko and I found proof when we went out for our walk: sparkly raindrops on the poinsettia leaves, drenched grass and the dark brown of well-watered soil in the taro patch, where tiny majiro (white eyes) lighted gracefully on the leaves, hunting bugs.

Meanwhile, the neighbors on the mauka side continued at 6 a.m. the loud fight they’ve been having the past three nights, which they abruptly stop at about midnight and then pick up where they left off the next morning. As I told a friend, “I’m trying to send them some vibes of joy” and she said: “Yeah, that and a muzzle.”

Briefly perusing my other neighbor’s Garden Island, as Koko lunged, safely leashed, at the school buses that rumbled by, I noticed that the planning commission has ordered the planning department to conduct an investigation into the accuracy of the burial treatment plans prepared for the Naue property.

It will be interesting, as the county investigation unfolds and documents are presented in court, to see exactly what went down up there. It does seem, from what I’ve been able to determine, that some serious irregularities did occur.

When I interviewed Alan Murakami of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. for a story that will appear in the Honolulu Weekly today (but won’t be on line till next Wednesdays), he said that a full archaeological survey for the entire oceanfront subdivision at Naue had been required as early 1991 because it was likely to be an area of “high value” — meaning a heavy concentration of burials. (Update: I just heard from the editor that the Weekly is now posting without a lag, so the piece is up.)

But the survey didn’t begin until last year, after a number of houses had already been built, including one by Joe Brescia, where a burial was found. And then, of course, at least 30 were found on the parcel where he is now building a home, and state archaeologists predicted there could be three times that many on the site.

Are these kinds of delays due to a lack of departmental oversight caused by inadequate funding and staffing? Or can they be attributed to negligence and corruption? I don’t know the answer, but it’s quite clear the system as it’s now set up is not working.

These things are not supposed to have to come down to people protesting and crying and getting arrested and filing lawsuits and banging on the burial council and planning commission. There is a process, and the state — for whatever reason — is not properly implementing it.

Also addressing the burial issue today is Katy Rose, who over on her blog, published a post entitled “Screw Guilt- Get Angry,” in which she suggests “we get angry, furious, outraged” over the displacement and other indignities inflicted on Native peoples.

I remember listening to John Lydon of Public Image Limited angrily singing: “Anger is an energy” and I identified with that sentiment, and viscerally felt it, too. But I’ve learned, after a lifetime of hotheadedness, that it’s not an energy I want to put out there in the world, or into my own being. Hearing my neighbors’ harsh words morning and night confirms that.

Anger isn’t going to solve any of the problems that face us at Naue or aid us in resolving any of the other troubles in the world. Why? Because it’s a dead-end, reptilian, boomerang emotion. The most effective and admirable activists I’ve met — Nani Rogers, Henry Noa and Palikapu Dedman, to name but a few — have moved beyond anger and into a place where they come from the heart and just keep plodding ahead.

It’s easy to get angry. God knows there were times when if I’d had a gun, I would have happily and impulsively shot to kill — and, as the old saying goes, repented in leisure. It’s much more difficult, yet ultimately far more rewarding, to strive to remain in that space of loving peace.

So get educated, get involved, get conscious, get active. But no, don’t get angry. And if you need some inspiration, here are some lyrics from John Cruz: "Shine on, shine on, let your light fill up this world till dawn."


Andrew Cooper said...

I must say I prefer your pragmatic view of the situation to Katy's. Yes, something went wrong. Yes, there needs to be an effort to address the situation. It even seems like it might be headed in that direction and that may be a result of the community activism.

But sheer anger of the type that Katy espoused in her article can as easily be counterproductive and very damaging to the cause. Anger is a very sharp sword, it can cut in any direction all too easily.

Anonymous said...

"Alan Murakami of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp....said that a full archaeological survey for the entire oceanfront subdivision at Naue had been required as early 1991..."

This is interesting. Who required it of whom? When and under what conditions? Please elaborate.

Larry said...

I wonder if it's something around selective enforcement? The government at any level simply deciding not to follow the law? Unless citizens can figure out how to make them.

Over here on Oahu we have these laws, but they are never enforced. It's not that a mafia has control of the police department (though who knows), it's just that the government doesn't want to do what the law says. They're made here for the entire state, but we can't get them enforced.

Though not related to the desecration issue, some of those are I-SaveRx and RxPlus for senior citizens--laws supposed to produce lower-cost prescription drugs but the Governor won't enforce them, the whole illegal B&B thing which has been going on for years- the vacation rentals are illegal but no one shuts them down, Safe Haven, which permits mothers to turn unwanted newborns over to adoption (instead of feeling they have to smother them), and on and on.

Just as the mothers have no clout, Native Hawaiians have been and are put down so strongly that it takes loud public action to get attention and then (maybe) get the government to do what it is supposed to. Or lawsuits.

Developers have power. More than the rest of us. Hawaii is all about power. Even our laws don't help us.

Katy said...

Maybe we're working off of different definitions.

I don't define anger as hatred or violence. I believe anger can co-exist with great love. I believe all of us, who by our accident of birth, have inherited a system of privileges at the expense of the lives of others, who never wanted to advance at another's expense, SHOULD be angry about it- that is an appropriate response to injustice.

That and guilt, if we are the beneficiaries of injustice and have done nothing to resist it. But I argue that dwelling in guilt and shame leads to paralysis.

There is indeed a place for anger and indignation at injustice. I know of no activist that doesn't feel it. It is not the only fuel, but it is indispensible.

But it's unimaginative to assume that anger only manifests itself in violence or even screams,or that it can be employed in no more imaginative a fashion than a common domestic dispute.

That's as erroneous as claiming that the love one takes into social struggles can only be expressed by passivity and compliance to injustice.

Ed Coll said...

Frederick Douglass wrote;
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

In my experience anger over the injustice one is suffering (like being a slave as Douglass was) typically proceeds a demand. Of course anger can also be retrospective when the demand is not met. It is hard not to be angered by social injustice, and even more so if you are on the recieving end of such abuse.

Those not the target of injustice advocate a go-slow evolutionary approach, while those under the wheel (or those that empathize with those that are) seek a more proactive revolutionary approach before being crushed by the juggernaut of injustice.

Joan Conrow said...

Anon wrote: This is interesting. Who required it of whom? When and under what conditions? Please elaborate.

My understanding is that SHPD required it of the developer as part of the subdivision process, and as I mentioned, back in 1991.

Yes, Larry, it's all about selective enforcement. Government officials swear to uphold the state and federal Constitutions and the laws, but they don't, for all sorts of reasons. They are the ones who ultimately have to be held accountable. And often, unfortunately, that does seem to require protests, lawsuits — even impeachment. :)

To Katy: I definitely don't want anyone telling me how I SHOULD feel. I would love to have you provide an example of how anger can be expressed imaginatively, positively and non-violently.

And to Ed: Yes, anger often does precede a demand, but it's not the only approach, nor, in my experience, the most effective. And yes, it's hard not for a conscious person to feel anger at any injustice, whether one is on the receiving or witnessing end. I've read that MLK often expressed anger. But if you recall, he did not encourage it in others, or make it the foundation of his revolutionary approach.

Katy said...

I don't like being told what I should feel either...I could have worded that differently. Maybe this works better: In my opinion anger is one appropriate response to injustice, as are sadness, grief, compassion, confusion, resolve, and so on.

But again, I think that equating anger with destruction is misguided. And so is equating love with compliance.

In fact, when anger is combined with love for the people (which I explicitly mention in my blog post), the impulse to resist injustice bears fruit. One need only look at the way the great social movements of US history have answered history's great injustices. The labor movement, the abolitionist movement, the black, Chicano, Native American, women's and queer liberation movements incorporated righteous outrage into their strategies for success. To me, this is nothing to fear, and the emotion is no more or less "reptilian" than love is.

The chants one hears at protests and picket lines are not so lovey dovey all the time. The timeless songs of striking miners were anything if not angry. At the same time, the struggles grew equally out of love for the people.

But if your defintion of "positive" means that you are looking for an example of a tactic that made nobody uncomfortable, I guess I can't think of any that have actually worked which could be described that way. Even Rosa Parks sitting on that bus made some people feel awfully put-out, but aren't we glad she did it? I think she was pretty angry about how her beloved people were being treated, too.

Good debate!

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Joan. Beautifully written.

Beautifully felt.

Anonymous said...

Example of how anger can be expressed imaginatively, positively and non-violently:

when protestors went to block the Superferry at Nawiliwili. They were imaginative, non-violent, most definitely ANGRY... and THE BOAT AIN'T HERE!

On the other hand, on Maui, when those who opposed Superferry went about it "rationally," and through proper channels, spending loads of money on lawyers, everything they did was nothing that Superferry felt it couldn't squash. As a result, Maui has the boat twice a day.

Kauai's anger is what is keeping Superferry away. No one got hurt, either. Seems to me that anger has its place.


Anonymous said...

"...our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world."


Joan Conrow said...

Update: I just heard from the editor that the Weekly is now posting without a lag, so my article on the burial preservation law can be viewed on line, if you're interested.

Joan Conrow said...

Was it really the anger, Koohan, that kept the ferry away, or the growing size of the crowd and the intensity of its commitment? It seems to me the anger part of the action backfired, giving people an opportunity to criticize the protesters who were yelling and banging on cars, etc., and providing justification for the United Command to crack down to control the "angry mob." That's certainly what the MSM, which feeds on negativity and anger, picked up and put out there, and we've been dealing with that perception ever since.

Meanwhile, those in the water were chanting and praying. They may have been angry, but it was controlled and expressed in a positive way. And that's why I like the quote that Anonymous posted by Gandhi. Like I said, I understand anger and still feel it. But it's not just what you're feeling, but how you're expressing it.

And Katy, I've seen people get very uncomfortable when they were confronted by protesters who weren't angry, but calm, positive, loving — and extremely determined. They simply didn't know how to respond to that, whereas they could easily have reacted to anger by simply getting mad themselves.

Anonymous said...

even jesus got angry at the temple when he saw the injustice. anger is a valid emotion. i think of anger as an internal call to action, but violence is not a valid response to anger. not sure one can really call on others to get angry - they either will or they wont. better to call for specific action, whether it be protest, public testimony of reaching into the pocketbook for lawyers. the kauai protests on superferry would not have happened had the maui lawyer not convinced the supreme court first with rational argument.

Larry said...

Anger happens. But when the MSM highlighted the protesters who were banging on cars, they were just being MSM. They knew it would be good tv or news.

Criticizing someone who is angry is often a communication tactic, widely employed. "Don't you yell at me!" What is happening is that the underlying issue is deflected and avoided by the person now hoping to discuss how the communication is carried out. It works. "I'll yell if I like!" and the original issue is successfully buried.

When the MSM focus their lenses and editorials at the pounding, or even the shouting of names at the governor, they've done the same thing. Now, this can be used intentionally. A whole bunch of us yelled and carried signs in the governor's office, and a rally that would have been ignored got covered by the media, and she signed the bills that night.

Studying communication theory is helpful (lots of work on this by the Process Work Center of Portland [Oregon]). Or I should say it has been helpful to me. I understand and appreciated that shouting those words at the governor at the famous Superferry meeting (for example), though I might not have nerve enough to do it, opened up a whole new dynamic of expression that wouldn't have come out otherwise.

In effect, shouting at the governor attracted long-lasting media attention. You can't pay for PR like that. A meeting that might not have been news was spread around the tv dial and news pages.

And yup, Kauai is still Superferry-free. So I won't knock it (was it anger or strategy?). In fact, I hope to read about everything one day in someone's book. The shout that turned away the Superferry!

Oh, that the cops could be invited under the tent, out from the rain, by protesters they came prepared to arrest, is a demonstration to me that some really good, basic humanity is still alive and well over there. So I read Joan's blog in part to keep in touch with things I suspect we've lost over here on Oahu. I'm not just saying it, I think it's real (whatever it is).

Anonymous said...

"the kauai protests on superferry would not have happened had the maui lawyer not convinced the supreme court first with rational argument."

that's why the kauai protestors were so pissed off, because the company defied the supreme court ruling.

Andrew Cooper said...


Thanks for the clarification! Your original article could indeed be read two ways.

Though the difference between the angry protesters vandalizing cars at Nawiliwili and the dignified protest of locked arms at Naue does put an example behind the different expressions of anger. Which was more effective?

The answer isn't all that clear.

Katy said...


I think we need to remember that although the tv played a clip repeatedly of people hitting a car, there was no vandalism of cars, per se.

Please understand that the car in question was driving into a crowd of people, including people seated on the ground, and the people shouting and banging on the car were trying to get it to stop moving toward people.

This wasn't an anger issue, it was an issue of faulty tactics and a lack of direct action preparation and training for escalating situations like the one in question. A more effective tactic would have been for everyone to sit on the road in front of that car, not just one or two people. I guarantee that car would have stopped and the media - well, they would have found something else to focus their attention on.

It is almost impossible to have an effective large protest without some small incident occuring that the media can have a field day with.

That's the reality, and we have to work with that. The best we can do is train and prepare to the best of our abilities.

I just think that when we talk about the superferry protests,we should not just interpret them through the lens of the evening news.

Anonymous said...

there was no vandalism of cars, per se

Unless letting the air out of car tires counts as vandalism.

the car in question was driving into a crowd of people, including people seated on the ground

Not true. Absolutely false. the car was absolutely parked and not moving when the guy banged on it and when the two men were letting the air out of its tires. This gets floated periodically as a justification for the mob action at the car. It's a lie.

Ed Coll said...


I have read both Gandi and MLK and was a coordinator for SSOC (Southern Student Organizing Committee)in Tennessee during the civil right struggles in the '60s, but even Gandi wrote that nonviolent resistance probably would not have worked against the Nazis.

Psychopathology is not amenable to nonviolence as it makes it easier for the psychopath to just kill everyone without regret. Both Freud and Jung agreed that societies themselves can be sociopathic. So there are limitations to non-violence as a tool for positive social change.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the Jewish insurgency that arose within the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland during World War II, and which opposed Nazi Germany's effort to transport the remaining ghetto population to the Treblinka extermination camp. The insurgency was launched against the Germans on January 18, 1943. The most significant portion of the insurgency took place from April 19 until May 16, 1943, and ended when the poorly-armed and supplied resistance was crushed by the German troops under the direct command of Jürgen Stroop. It was the largest single revolt by the Jews during the Holocaust.[3]

- Wikipedia

In terms of effectiveness it seems to me that you might be overlooking the vital role of angry vanguard groups (i.e. United Workers of the World, Black Panther Party, Red Witches etc.) role in positive social change that Katy wrote about.

These small angry groups seemed so insistent in their demands that other groups, formerly judged to be "radical" now seemed "reasonable" (i.e. AFL/CIO, NAACP, and NOW).

My experience has shown me that vanguard groups arising from grassroots anger serve as a catalyst for positive social change that mainstream groups and then political parties later claim credit for achieving.

Anger does not equate to violence and acting in anger is almost always a mis-take (in the Buddhist sense of missing the mark, or what Christians call sin).

So one may be driven by the emotion of anger at injustice and use it as a motivator for action.

BTW- koohan's Superferry analysis is dead-on. The action was successful because it was spontaneous and lacked any leaders with enough followers to control events. It is typical SOP for military operatives to identify OPFOR leaders and compromise (or kill) them.

As an eyewitness to every Superferry protest it appeared to me that no one could speak for all the protesters and law enforcement had no one to talk to or compromise.

Finally I agree completely with what you wrote "it's not just what you're feeling, but how you're expressing it."

Not sure if Rosa Parks was more tired or angry, or angry at being tired when she disobeyed the law by not giving her seat to a white man but her action had consequences far beyond expectations as did John Brown's at Harper's Ferry. Brown lost the battle but the South lost the war.


Anonymous said...

Well, I'm a beneficiary of privilege, and I love it. Wouldn't change a thing!

Anonymous said...

All those archaeological surveys were been done in the early 90's.
Someone out there needs to do some research on the requiremnets and how they were fulfilled and approved over 10 years ago.
Listening to what others "think" doesn't serve you all well. Do the home work and then you'll be able to make progress.

Andy Parx said...

Well I missed this conversation before I wrote about the dueling anger pieces today but all the actions people spoke of were spurred by people’s anger.

Anger is good. What you do with is up to the individual and can be good or bad. There are psychotic ways to deal with it and there are smart ways to deal with it but the important thing is to deal with it, not just bury it or deny it.

And for the record I would never have gone to the convention hall that night if not for my anger. But that anger didn’t blind me to what I needed to do or make me go in without a plan. If I had not been in tune with, owning my and honoring my anger I would never have done or said anything.

Nothing says action we take in anger can’t be effective action. But if we don’t have the motivation of anger because we suppress it we may never act and just wallow in self pity or, as Katy says guilt- guilt at having been angry but not doing anything about it.

Anonymous said...

"Revenge is best served chilled."

-- Oscar Wilde

(who didn't approve of anger)

Anonymous said...


What did you accomplish at the convention hall? You paced around and fidgeted like some bipolar off their meds. JoAnn kept coming over to shush you. You yelled fuck you at the governor and then you stormed out in a huff mercifully early in the proceedings.

Joan Conrow said...

Anon wrote: All those archaeological surveys were been done in the early 90's.

Can you provide some proof of that, please?

Katy said...

If Andy hadn't yelled that night everyone would have gone along with the original sheep-like plan and been "polite" and "respectful." Andy lit a fuse that night, and what happened next was a big reason we don't have the Superferry coming to Kaua'i. He gave us all permission to express our anger and frustration and resistance to the "Unified Command" scenario.

I for one thank him for doing what nobody else would have had the courage to do.

The results speak for themselves, I think.

Joan Conrow said...

Katy, I have to totally disagree with you that Andy lit a fuse and otherwise people would have been "polite" and "respectful." I felt the unruly energy of that crowd well before Andy said a word. They weren't going to be contained or go along with any sort of "sheep-like plan," regardless of whether Andy was there.

Also, when I was at that meeting, I booed and stamped my feet, but I wasn't angry. And neither were the folks around me. In fact, there was an almost jovial mood. And it was in marked contrast to the really angry people who were yelling from the back. Which were more effective? Who knows?

Anonymous said...

"Can you provide some proof of that, please?"

Can't do your work for you.
Check with the appropriate departments.

Joan Conrow said...

I figured you didn't have any.

Katy said...

But Andy having started it off by saying the worst thing possible (almost) made everything thereafter imagineable. I too felt the energy in that room, but I also recall the platitudes about politeness and respect being trotted out at the rally beforehand and even in discussions leading up to the day. "We should all stand in silence and turn our backs" and "we should all walk out," and various other ideas were strongly advocated as if we were all one monolithic mass that could be controlled by the people who didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable, especially not a governor! Instead, because of a diversity of tactics which included Andy's shout and the young guys' taunts from the rear of the room, as well as the jovial foot stomping you mention, the "governor's meeting" became the "people's meeting."

Look, I'm not saying we should all yell F*** You Lingle in unison, anymore than any other herdlike behavior. But if we don't have a diversity of tactics, we'll be out-maneuvered, and we'll lose.

Anonymous said...

"I figured you didn't have any."

Just some free info, all in public docs.

Anonymous said...

When Andy yelled his obscenity at the gov, he was expressing how I felt, too. The downside was that he made Lingle look like a victim and gave the media and SF supporters ammo for the PR battle.

Katy said...

But the "PR" just added to the HSF and state's conclusion that the ferry had best not come to Kaua'i.

I think that was the goal of all our actions, more so than getting friendly press coverage.

Friendly press coverage is always nice, but if we twist ourselves to that alone, we'll lose sight of the more important objectives.

Anonymous said...

yes, but made for great theatre, drama and comedy on stage with the actors and audience in great exchange. the full spectrum of emotions running strong amongst us all. a classic; historical for sure. glad i was there. thanx for the memories!

Anonymous said...

Maybe he could go to the courthouse this morning and yell fuck you at the judge!

Anonymous said...

The PR battle was important because of the SF's push for the special legislative session. People on Oahu got all fired up by what they saw on TV (which, given the amount of $$$ the SF spends on TV advertising, was slanted against the SF opponents from the beginning) and the backlash gave the legislature "cover" to push the exemption through. Instead of focusing on government corruption and the lack of concern over the environment, the focus was on how rude and inhospitable we were to "outsiders".

Anonymous said...

> Instead of focusing on government corruption and the lack of concern over the environment, the focus was on how rude and inhospitable we were to "outsiders". <

> The downside was that he made Lingle look like a victim and gave the media and SF supporters ammo for the PR battle. <

There's nothing wrong with feeling anger and being energized by anger. But for advocates of social change, acting out your personal anger on the public stage, verbally or physically, carries enormous downsides.

It focuses publicity on your behavior instead of on the issues. It makes you appear more concerned about yourself than your cause. It diminishes your credibility and increases that of your opponents. It distances your allies who value reason over rage. It creates sympathy for your opponents and recruits hearts and minds to their cause.

Acting out personal anger on the public stage is the second greatest gift a social activist can give their opposition (the first being to publicly switch to their opponents' side).

Anonymous said...

"You didn't just set back the investigation. You got people feeling sorry for these guys! I didn't think that was possible!"
- Hal Holbrook as Deep Throat to Robert Redford as Bob Woodward
All the President's Men

Anonymous said...

Deep down, beneath whatever large or small scam du jour the Nixons and Haldemans and Lingles and Superferries of the world might be pulling, they all share the same heart of arrogance. The same smug sneer of disrespect for anyone who isn't part of their self-serving crowd.

By getting on TV and cursing them and pounding the hoods of cars, we appear to be just different members of the same arrogant, disrespectful, power-seeking family.

When we act in a way that guarantees our personal anger will be the lead image on the 5 o'clock news, we give the opposition more publicity and sympathy than all the corrupt slush funds can buy. We injure our own cause by appearing to be bullies at best -- and hypocrites at worst.

This isn't the 60's. The social activism techniques of even ten years ago won't work in today's cynical age. This is a time when the motivations of all institutions are suspect. A time when Mother Church and Sierra Club, sports heroes and minority group leaders, are increasingly seen as untrustworthy as politicians.

It is a time when great masses of people are sick unto death of anyone who speaks of noble agendas, but whose actions reveal that the agenda is himself.

Larry said...

Over here on Oahu the reaction to the shouting/hood banging was mixed. There were plenty of people who swallowed the press focus on the "excess" or "misdeeds" of the protest, but those in my condo with whom I spoke about it were mostly wondering why so many people objected to the SF. Most knew nothing about the issues.

So sure, the tv slant can make something look bad, and yes, it was what it was, but there was also an effect, and I believe a strong one, that registered in people's minds that some people had big problems with it. Big enough to do what they did.

All that aside, whatever the Tao decreed to happen, the ferry has not dared come back, so why knock success?

We shouted at the gov, in her magnificent and normally stately office, at a demo at the State Capitol. She went on tv lamely saying that she didn't even know who was out there, and was that the best way to reach her? Nothing else had worked, and of course, she might have (and probably did) ask someone, who's shouting out there? Her reaction, supposedly not knowing, was really lame. The protest was heard throughout the building.

Then she signed the bill. So again, while maybe others politely entreat the governor, or write letters to the editor, or gather petitions, this is what happened and the bill got signed that night. I won't knock it. [It could have been the large bottle of prune juice I brought her, but probably the protest was more effective and worked faster than the prune juice might have.]

In fact, an alternate question is how loud must one yell to be effective?

Or how many hoods must a hood pounder pound to really get attention to an issue? Stupid questions, but I don't mind asking them anyway.

Andy Parx said...

Larry, you crack me up.

As you say, sometimes one tactic is appropriate, sometimes another. Nothing works all the time- everything always sometimes. It’s best when you having a media scenario happening and use the tactic that fits it.

Abby Hoffman taught me that. Good cops and bad cops need to play their role when we act as a community.

All the media coverage of the courts and the blockade hadn’t stopped them at that time and the governor came over with her military “unified command?” to force us- practically at gunpoint- to accept the ferry.

If you lived here and weren’t angry, you were invested in it... or dead... or lived in Kalalau, although I’ll bet they heard too.

And all the mucky-mucks like JoAnn and her supporters like my lensy sister-in-arms were doing was pleading and begging them not to use might over right, as they had implored for weeks to no avail.

But the laughers and the hecklers and the guy who yelled “fuck you” Lingle- as he was being kicked out for screaming “no justice no peace” for 20 minutes while the two aforementioned tried to stop him- gave some of them the “permission” they needed to heckle, spit, ridicule and do anything they wanted because someone had already done the worst that can be done.

And the headline was “Kaua`i says F-U to Lingle” not “Lingle says F-U to Kaua`i”.

That told the unified command they had trouble. Real trouble. Emotional trouble.


And no matter what Larry’s neighbors or the others watching the heckling and car-banging on TV thought, the message wasn’t originally intended for them.

But after Lingle “got it” they got it too- just read what they write at the time in the comments of the newspaper articles.

It was a good plan like Larry says- if the media recognized it

The obscenities and car banging wasn’t really what they were angry at- it was just a symbol. They were angry at us for getting angry with them and their little military command in the administration.

Whether we yelled or jumped in the water or sat nicely begging then to spare us, we all felt that anger.

And Lingle felt our anger and so did the people who had a dog in the fight. And that’s the only reason the ferry isn’t here today.

They needed to know about it. At the time, it might have been the only thing that would stop them.

I do want to remind people that in the words Lingle spoke immediately before “the obscenity” did she said she was ”not there to negotiate” and that “it isn’t a matter of ‘if’ the Superferry is coming, just ‘when’”.

Did I know it would work out that way- of course not. Did I think it could- of course I did... But I’m not stupid enough to forget it doesn’t happen 90% of the time. Or why.

I let my anger be my guide.

Anonymous said...

> I let my anger be my guide. <


Maybe that's why when I read Joan's rants, they read like they're about the issues. When I read your rants, they read like they're about you.

The techniques and 'tudes of the 60's and 70's can only get you one thing today: mistrusted.

They're too unsophisticated -- and too self centered.

Larry said...

anonymous, I'm not sure that the attitudes of the '60s and '70s get anyone mistrusted. The methods of organizing, protest, legal action and so forth are pretty much the same, with the addition of internet communication. And they have never been self-centered.

Nor did they start in the '60s.

At last glance, mistrust is on the other foot. That is, we can pretty much mistrust anything our government says right now. I'm just listening to today's Democracy Now interview with author Ron Suskind about how the White House seems to have actually forged a letter to mislead the American people about 9/11. That's DisTrust.

Organizing and protest go way back. The Magna Carta, for example, was not given down as a gift, it was forced onto an English King by his subjects through protest. I bet there was a good deal of shouting, cursing and banging on chariot hoods or whatever, at that time, even if all we have today are illustrations of the well-dressed king signing the document.

Protests have been met with gunfire, cannonballs, all kinds of force throughout history. Yet people persist in demanding their rights or that their governments be limited in power.

In France, I understand, they still burn cars. They would laugh at mere hood pounding.

To say that protesters incur mistrust is a privileged position, I suspect from someone who hasn't much to protest about, or who can afford alternate methods besides making noise on car hoods. That's great if you can achieve something for society. Otherwise, who cares.

Anonymous said...

> I'm not sure that the attitudes of the '60s and '70s get anyone mistrusted. The methods of organizing, protest, legal action and so forth are pretty much the same, with the addition of internet communication. And they have never been self-centered.


To say that protesters incur mistrust is a privileged position, I suspect from someone who hasn't much to protest about, or who can afford alternate methods besides making noise on car hoods. That's great if you can achieve something for society. Otherwise, who cares. <


Keep thinking that way if it makes you comfortable. It's much easier than listening to the music of what's really been going on out there in the last 10 years.


Katy said...

In the "last ten years" - that includes Seattle 1999, right?

Anonymous said...

Katy wrote: In the "last ten years" - that includes Seattle 1999, right?

And what exactly did it accomplish again, except for giving the cops an excuse to adopt new paramilitary techniques for dealing with protests?

Anonymous said...

What's been happening in the last 10 years -- and especially in the last five -- is a growing public skepticism and distrust of anyone who touts an agenda. Any agenda. The bar on credibility has been raised higher than at any time in the last half century.

Presidents and priests, congressmen and cops, sports figures and business moguls, news media stars and minority leaders, teachers and parents -- all are stars in the daily media drama of Look Who Can't You Trust Now.

The public's increasing distrust and disgust with people who talk the noble talk but walk the Me First walk is evident in polls, voting patterns, letters to editors and blogs. People are getting sick of anyone who claims to care for the common cause, then acts out their ego for the TV cameras. The public is rapidly developing a sensitive nose for self-servitude -- they can smell even a whiff of self-righteousness, superiority, smugness, entitlement or intolerance.

The public backlash builds slowly, and results in people not counter-protesting as in the old days, but turning off. And the entrenched elites love it. Watch the Lingles of the world work the press -- they love playing the game of Who's Least Egotistic. They'll set you up to appear like an insensitive, self-righteous bully, and rip off your credibility before you know you've been skinned.

Today, more than any time in the last half century, if you want to speak to power, if you want to fight corruption, if you want to work for the people, you have to keep the ego zipped!

Anonymous said...

What's needed today are Abby Hoffmans with Ph.D.s in PR. An SDS packed with M.A.'s in Media Studies.

The same passion, but with the sophisticated techniques needed to outmaneuver the spawn of Rove.

And somehow the grace or good luck to avoid becoming it.

Joan Conrow said...

Today, more than any time in the last half century, if you want to speak to power, if you want to fight corruption, if you want to work for the people, you have to keep the ego zipped!

Amen. And I know this won't be popular with those who have been defending angry actions, but acting out personal anger on the public stage, to borrow the words of Anonymous, is ego-based action.

That's not to say you can't have effective protests. I covered the demo against the Asian Development Bank conference in Hono a few years back. It attracted a lot of participants and a lot of media coverage that focused on their concerns with the organization, rather than on them.

And that's likely because nobody was screaming or yelling or banging cars or breaking windows or fighting with the cops, which is what everyone expected they would do after Seattle and WTO.

Katy said...

I'm sorry, but have any of you been listening to anyone under 40 years old?

The Seattle protest was immensely successful in stopping the WTO meeting from proceeding and ushering in a mass movement against global corporatism.

Any observer of the left knows that a significant disruption to this building movement happened on 9/11 and the shift to a tepid and largely ineffective anti-war movement. the debate on the left about this is vigorous, and easy to follow for anyone with access to the internet.

If all you know about seattle 99 is the nike window being smashed, you're informed about modern movement buildingand protest tactics.

You may want to watch the documentary "This is What Democracy Looks Like" to brush upon Seattle, read Left Turn, and generally stop trading stories from the old days.

No offense, but there is a new generation out there.

Larry said...

Acting out is frontal-lobes, not ego. People act out love publicly, they act out false altruism, they act out racism.

Some racists have enough self-control to avoid being detected. Some suppress expressing love because it's politically dangerous. Anger can be expressed but it's different from expressing it inappropriately, whether that is by punching a spouse or damaging public property.

Now, damaging public property can be a tactic, not a wonton expression of anger.

Let me tell you that when one of my best friends was taken out on his moped by a driver who ran a red light, I was angry and I see no problem with it nor the op-ed I wrote on the subject.

The pictures of angry, grieving Iraqis, holding dead children with missing body parts don't appear in our papers. Maybe they should.

There are darn good reasons to be angry, and humans understand the emotion in others.

I think what is separate is how we use anger or any other emotion (love, lust, greed, etc.). If any of this has a strategic purpose, it's hard to say it is related to ego or self-gratification.

I saw a man cry in front of a crowd over his male friend who had just died of complications of AIDS. I know he was grieving, but he chose to use his loss for a greater purpose. Portland soon established clinics that are probably still there today.

We all are in theory capable of a wide range of emotions, and the ego actually is opposed to their expression, not supportive of it.

Katy said...

I meant "Uninformed about modern movement building and protest tactics." Sorry

Anonymous said...

"stop trading stories from the old days.

No offense, but there is a new generation out there."

And the fragmentation of the left continues unabated.

Katy said...

No, no "fragmenting." I object to that. My tone may have been a bit snide, but I am advocating for us over-40's to LEARN something instead of relying on the assumption that the sixties were the high water mark of social activism and that, well, young folks today...blah blah blah.

Another resource I highly recommend is the book "Letters from Young Activists: Today's Rebels Speak Out." Especially interesting are their thoughts about how today's committed activists relate to the struggles and of the sixties and the nostalgia for that era.

I'm an "in-betweener." I was born in 66 so I can't remember that era of activism. I had the sad misfortune of being a young radical in the 80's - an era best viewed in the rear-view mirror, in my opinion. Ugh. But I've also had the great luck to work with some of the intense young people who flooded into the labor movement in the mid-nineties and went on to form the core of the left analysis which informed Seattle '99. That generation has much to teach us, and if we're open to them, they can inspire us.

No need to lose hope....

Anonymous said...

> And the fragmentation of the left continues unabated. <

Bingo. Because we won't think as smart as the right.

I respect Katy enormously, but I think she's asking the wrong question here. It isn't what we took away from Seattle, it's what the media and, through them, the public took away from Seattle -- the public that's going to vote for the next round of governors and legislators and judges.

This isn't an issue of ethics or aesthetics, it's Tactics 101: not acting in a manner that gives your opposition free ammunition to use against you -- and through you, against your cause and the others working for it.

Katy said...

But you simply cannot control what everybody brings to a protest. And we can't control the images. We can twist ourselves to look good for the camera or we can focus on our goals.

I understand that you think that our goals must depend on a mass audience being "won over," and I'm not denying that is an important part of the equation.

But if we focus entirely on image, we also lose our focus on our analysis of the situation, and we lose sight of the way that diverse tactics can be employed effectively, because we're so busy trying to control eachother's behavior.

In Seattle, a candle-light vigil with signs saying "If you don't mind we would prefer not to be screwed over by gobal capitalism" might have made a nice christmas card photo but it would not have hightened the consciousness about the WTO to any measurable degree.

And let's remember that it is not just the US public that matters here. The fight against globalized corporate power is a world-wide fight.

Joan Conrow said...

There are darn good reasons to be angry, and humans understand the emotion in others.

I have no quarrel with you on that, Larry. But my point is the same one made so eloquently by Anonymous:

This isn't an issue of ethics or aesthetics, it's Tactics 101: not acting in a manner that gives your opposition free ammunition to use against you -- and through you, against your cause and the others working for it.

Many (most?) people don't know how to express anger appropriately and in a non-destructive way. And it's that kind of anger that works against so many efforts of social change. The general public sees it and instead of feeling sympathy or support for the cause, they feel turned off by the activists.

That's what happened with the Superferry. The physical and verbal anger expressed at the docks and Lingle's meeting turned off a lot of locals who still dislike the ferry, and were angry about it, too, but are disinclined to join other protests because they don't want to be identified with people who acted that way. End result: fragmentation.

Anonymous said...

> In Seattle, a candle-light vigil with signs saying "If you don't mind we would prefer not to be screwed over by gobal capitalism" might have made a nice christmas card photo but it would not have hightened the consciousness about the WTO to any measurable degree. <

Good point.

Why is why we need creative leadership to inspire more effective methods than the extremes of smashing windows or singing Kumbaya.

Anonymous said...

Addendum to 1:56 p.m. above:

> And we can't control the images. We can twist ourselves to look good for the camera or we can focus on our goals. <

My point is that we must not only control the images, we must create the images! The image increasingly is the primary unit of political and social communication. With the passing of every gaseous news cycle, the emotion of the image trumps the meaning of the word.

The right has a near monopoly on the creation, distribution and manipulation of powerful, thematic images -- both concrete and allusive (especially the latter!).

The left has not only got to get smart in this regard, we've got to get brilliant.

Andy Parx said...

I posted this this afternoon atthe wrong artcile today's Naue piece from Joan. Discussion ensued.

And what exactly have you Mr. Assimilationist, Mr. go along with the crowd, Mr. be nice, Mr. don’t offend anyone,. Mr. don’t make waves, Mr. Steve Covey win-win insider gotten accomplished? NADA, ZIP, BUPKIS.

Because the right wing nuts know they don’t have to worry about you because you’ll fold like a card table.

What are these “tactics” you’re using? Which ones do anything but sell us further down the river and compromise away everything we’re fighting for?

This isn’t about ego- it’s about what we can accomplish either as individuals or as a group or as an individual by changing with the group dynamic- and putting your own ass on the line to do it..

If you, as a self-declared “good cop”, can’t take advantage of us “bad cops” then you deserve exactly the non-accomplishments you create. The good cops I know and work with appreciate what the table-ponders do for the dynamic and we talk about how to make sure we are on the same page to razzle-dazzle them into dizziness and submissions- both the press and our opponents..

If you’re too lame to play the game at least get out of our way and stop compromising away the gains we make and admonishing us to let you do the nothing you’re doing.

Most of the time I can hardly tell the difference between the people we’re fighting and those who are telling the rabble-rousers to sit down and shut up because we might offend people who are taking advantage of your efforts not to offend anyone.

You have some damn nerve talking about ego when your own image and political viability is all you’re apparently- and statedly- concerned about. You’re so busy building up your ego gratification machine and getting people to like you, actually accomplishing anything is beyond your ability... unless it’s allowing a slightly watered down version of what we were all opposing in the first place.

Love me, love me I’m a liberal When everyone likes you, that’s you know you are a hack and egomaniac.

Be proud of the people who don’t like you- wear their distain like a badge of courage and accomplishment. don’t cower behind adulation for your ability to make everyone happy by making no one happy. People who accomplish things have tons of people who absolutely hate them... because they accomplish things.

People who are worried about what narrow-minded, bigoted mobs will think about a certain action at a certain moment rather than looking down the line and actually doing whatever it takes to change the dynamics- and therefore outcome- are more of a problem sometimes than the “bad guys”- at least you know where they’re at. All you do is to let them do their dirty work and snivel that they “should stop”.

And don’t tell me I’m personally attacking someone who hasn’t got the guts to put a name to their mana`o. that’s a non sequitor

While you’re selling us down the river to avoid conflict with the slave owners we’re busy conducting the underground railroad and raiding Harper’s Ferry because we can see beyond the end of our own “political viability” to avoid selling-out our brothers and sisters for political adulation.

Katy said...

hell, yes

Anonymous said...

Good God, Andy keeps raising the bar on being full of yourself.

The analysis of:
Anon August 15, 2008 10:08 AM and Anon August 15, 2008 12:56 PM are brilliant; well worth reading through all the rest.
As for Joan, her words show the wisdom that comes from experience and that wisdom has passed Andy right by.

Some actually write as if something more than temporary has happened regarding Superferry.
They are now over 400 overwhelmingly unremarkable voyages to and from Maui. Soon, an Enviro. Report will be finished. Those two points, and the wish to use the service, will be enough for the mainstream. Their wishes will either be presented or manufactured. It won't really matter. A year or more from now, Superferry will have a couple hundred unremarkable voyages to and from Kauai. Tasteless Andy and Hood Banger will be on the ashheap of nostalgia; which will be completely inaccurate by 2010.

Anonymous said...

Andy, you're totally off base and out of line with this comment.

If you disagree with Anonymous' comments, which have been invariably thoughtful, stick to the issue and don't digress into name-calling, totally unsupported accusations about his/her activities and contributions and other attacks that are indeed personal, whether the person is posting under Anonymous or not.

Joan Conrow said...

That last comment was made by me.

Anonymous said...

"People who accomplish things have tons of people who absolutely hate them... because they accomplish things."

What did Andy accomplish that led to this absolute hatred?