America's revolutionary spirit alive and kicking
February 2, 2001
By Pamela White
(U-WIRE) BOULDER, Colo. -- I grew up wishing I had been
older during the '60s. Born in 1964, I have only the vaguest
memories of the activism that set those years apart: a news
broadcast about desegregation riots; the radio announcement
of Robert Kennedy's assassination; Rocky Flats protesters
blocking Baseline Road at the 28th Street overpass with
By the time I had gotten old enough to get involved, nothing
much was going on. Still, I tried.
I skipped school for a day to protest the fact that jocks on
my junior high's wrestling team had been allowed to stay all
day at a meet to watch the other teams compete, while we
members of the choir and concert band had been forced to
come back from our competition immediately after performing.
This resulted in my parents getting a phone call from the
school's principal -- who doubled as the wrestling coach --
and a day of detention.
I also protested the ritualized violence of football in my
high school P.E. class by refusing to participate and doing
only yoga, which wasn't in the curriculum. I was kicked out
of P.E. but was forced to endure a week of juvenile
delinquent boot camp at San Diego's Naval Training Center,
where the connection to violence was much more direct.
Petty efforts at best. My escapades weren't nearly as
interesting as the time college students across the street
from my parents' Martin Acres home painted a fine portrait
of Dick Nixon on a car -- and then bashed the car to bits
with baseball bats. They weren't as compelling as the riots
that shook University Hill over Vietnam and resulted in the
Colorado Bookstore abandoning its all-glass storefront in
favor of cinderblocks.
Why couldn't I live during a time of action?
I couldn't have known that the intervening years, including
years of travel abroad, would lead to my running the
newsroom at an independent newspaper during a time that
might eventually make the '60s look like a backyard
The revolution is here. It breathes all around us. It grows,
learns, adapts and moves forward each day. It showed its
face around the globe once a month during 2000 -- Quito,
Bangkok, Boston, Seattle, D.C., Philly, Cochabamba, Chiang
Mai, L.A., South Africa, India, Buenos Aires, Windsor,
Nigeria, Okinawa, Colombia, Honduras, Seoul, Fort Benning,
Melbourne, Prague, Nice, Cincinnati. It's already come out
to play this year in Davos and Geneva.
It's with us each day as more and more people begin to
unplug from the consumer/capitalist matrix, realizing they
don't need to buy junk to be happy. It's with us as people
decide to boycott corporations that use sweatshop labor.
It's with us as environmentalists, labor activists and
minority activists cross bridges to work together to reach
I was shocked into this realization on the streets of
Washington, D.C., when a dozen activists lay down in the
streets in front of police officers on motorcycles and
didn't move -- not even when the cops backed up, revved
their engines and drove their tires into and over people's
Something has changed. It changed when 50,000 people of all
ages and backgrounds shut down the World Trade Organization.
What I see around me now are committed people who know far
more about how the system works than the media is willing to
let on. They're willing to put their lives and health at
risk to improve the lives and health of people around the
globe. They'll go to protests, they'll change their
lifestyles, they'll speak out, they'll go to prison. But
they won't go back.
Dubya's coronation has added fuel to the fire. While some
were tolerant of President Clinton because of his
pseudo-sympathetic stance on health care, abortion and some
aspects of the environment, they clearly will not extend
that tolerance toward Dubya, who doesn't deserve it. With a
cabinet of Christian extremists and rape-and-run
capitalists, his presence ensures that events will escalate.
But this is what scares me. The government and media have
pursued a policy of marginalization toward activists,
depicting them as violent, irrational and disorganized, when
quite the contrary is true. Further, the police forces
around the nation have become paramilitary organizations
which treat the exercise of free speech -- not to mention
the making of puppets -- as a criminal activity.
John F. Kennedy had his finger on the problem when he said,
"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent
Forced to the fringes and justifiably enraged by policies
that put high profits ahead of human lives, some activists
have already begun to express themselves with fire, spray
paint and broken glass.
If Dubya and other politicians were smart, they'd find a
place at the negotiating table for those who oppose their
policies. They'd listen, and they'd respond by including at
least some activist demands in their policies.
But smart they're not.
Stay alert. It's going to be a wild ride.
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