Saturday, November 26, 2005

Letters to the Editor

to: Windsor Star
Sent: June 22, 2000
Printed--I'm not sure of the exact date, but this did get printed
(Despite having been one of the protesters, I obviously tried to distance myself a bit in this letter to make the point).

John Robson's recent editorial was well thought out and artfully crafted, but I don't think he will convince either Jaggi Singh or Maude Barlow. Robson is preaching to those who already agree with him.

If Robson truly wants to convince the other side of this debate, he will have to operate under the same assumptions they do. Robson must assume McDonalds and the Gap and the OAS are all in a conspiracy to create world poverty and ensure the status of the current elites. As ridiculous as these assumptions may seem to Robson, he must either convince the protesters otherwise (good luck) or create an argument that is tailored to the assumptions the protesters have about multi-national corporations. If one believes that the GAP is actively oppressing its workers, then a brick through their window doesn't seem all that bad all of a sudden. The protesters will not believe that they are hurting innocent entrepreneurs. The question Robson should have asked is: Let's assume the OAS, GAP and McDonalds are as bad as the claims? Are the protesters than justified in their actions?

To "The Banner"
Sent: Oct 14, 2000
Printed: Nov 20,2000 Issue (underlined parts are sections Printed)
I thought the article by May Drost was not only badly written but in poor taste.

To begin with, Emma Goldman's quotation was taken completely out of context. It should be noted that this article was written in 1934. During this same year, Goldman had given a series of talks about the conditions in Nazi Germany. She had also been active in raising money to get Anarchists out of Germany. In Quebec, Goldman was told she could not sell or distribute literature at her meetings unless it was first approved by the police. Goldman was also told her chances of obtaining a visa back to the United States were unlikely because of the hostility against radicals in the government. And all this was happening after Goldman had left Communist Russia because she was disgusted at what that oppressive government was doing.

Therefore, to take Goldman's quote about government oppression, in a period when world wide government oppression was a horrific reality, and compare it to a parent child relationship, is some of the worst writing I have ever seen.

Furthermore, Goldman was a social anarchist. Her entire philosophy is based on the premise that human beings desire social relationships with each other, and that capitalism has forced us into competitive relationships. So, to accuse Goldman of excessive individualism is to miss her point. In fact in the very article Drost quoted, Goldman goes on to say that her philosophy "has nothing in common with rugged individualism. Such predatory individualism is really flabby, not rugged."

And finally, there has been a long and well respected tradition of Christian anarchists, including Leo Tolstoy. I wish the Banner would not try and imply that one political system is sanctioned by God, and one is not.

I hope May Drost will in the future refrain from writing article about subjects when obviously knows nothing about.

To: Newsweek
Sent: April 24, 2001
Not printed (At the time I did not know that Fareed Zakaria was the editor, and not simply a writer at Newsweek. Had I known I probably would have phrased this a bit differently. I'm sure that had something to do with it not getting printed.) The original editorial is no longer on-line, but other responses to it can be found here and here.

Fareed Zakaria's article "The New Face of the Left" contained many logical fallacies, the most troubling of which was his apparent confusion between protectionism and fair trade. Although Zakaria is certainly free to disagree with the fair traders, he must at least acknowledge their arguments if he wants to enter the debate. No ideological group, whether from the left or the right, has ever operated from the assumption that their ideology would cause a decrease in the global quality of human life. If Zakaria wants to rant and rave about how selfish the demonstrators are, he is essentially just cheerleading for his own viewpoint. The space could have been better used rationally engaging the fair trade arguments.

A second error was Zakaria's belief that leftist opposition to free trade is a new phenomenon. In fact Marx himself wrote extensively about the dangers of free trade.

After spending the weekend in Quebec and sacrificing my body to tear gas, pepper spray, water cannons and the like, it is frustrating to see a respectable magazine like Newsweek grant space to a columnist who has not taken the effort to seriously engage the issues. I hope more balanced coverage of free trade will be given in the future.

To: Grand Rapids Press
Sent: July 21, 2001
Not printed

On July 21, the Grand Rapids Press incorrectly reported that the murder in Genoa Italy was the first death at an international summit. In fact, last month 4 people were killed in Papua New Guinea protesting the World Bank, and over 30 have died in Brazil during anti-globalization protests.

To: Adbusters
Sent: July 16, 2001
Status: Unknown--I never actually checked up on this to see if Adbusters printed it or not. They had asked for stories involving their Adbusters Corporate Flag Campaign, so I wrote this up and we sent it on behalf of Media Mouse.

On July 4, 2001, Media Mouse joined in Adbusters's campaign to declare independence from corporate rule. We were initially cautious as we talked about how to bring the campaign to the conservative city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. We were worried about a hostile reaction from the patriotic crowd, and even speculated that a few zealots might attempt to destroy our flag.

We located ourselves in a downtown park at 8 PM. We were far enough from the fire works so that we could have our own distinct rally, and yet close enough so that many people would walk past us on their way to the official celebration. In addition to proudly waving our Adbusters's flag, we also set up an information table which contained pamphlets on the WTO, IMF, NAFTA, FTAA and other issues related to corporate domination.

However, the pamphlet we were most aggressive with was one we had put together ourselves. Building on Adbusters's campaign, we gathered information which outlined more specifically how corporations seek to control most aspects of American life. We stood on the sidewalks and offered a copy to every passerby.

We were surprised by how positive the reaction was. We encountered some apathetic attitudes, but many people also expressed interest and congragulated us. Even the cars that drove by honked their horns in support. In fact, the reaction was so positive that we began to worry that some of the passing cars weren't looking closely at the flag, and mistook us for young patriots.

The event also proved to be a great networking opportunity. We talked to other local activists, and exchanged information about the projects we were working on.

After our rally, we took the flag down to the fireworks, where we distributed our remaining fliers and enjoyed the show.

No comments: