Manufacturing our Dissent, p. 2

II. A Seemingly Obvious Solution

The following strategies are aimed at protests and demonstrations, and the subsequent media coverage that they are able to garner. Perhaps we cannot (and perhaps should not) stifle the chaos that ensues at protests, but intelligent activists must work harder to present the public with a unified, simplified voice that:

1) Prioritizes clarity in its message and reasoning.
We must employ the strategies we need to reach the public and force our representatives to take note. We have to suck it up and put on suits; we have to organize activists prior to the protests; and we have to hold our noses and lobby elected politicians. Chanting slogans may seem more "authentic" to some Leftists than lobbying Washington officials in an honest and professional manner - but really it's just more self-indulgent. If you go to a protest, write a letter or make a phone call also. Force your politician to take note of an agenda and potential constituency. Before confronting news cameras, write down several talking points -- and make sure they are intelligent, strategic, polite, and well defended. Anticipate objections and have sources ready. Vague slogans are counterproductive; homework counts.

2) Emphasizes alternatives to the policies it criticizes.
It is important for the Left to offer realistic goals rather than blanket criticism. In the case of Iraq:
- More efficient mechanisms of ensuring world stability (i.e., less to Lockheed Martin and more to diplomatic and humanitarian channels).
- A real weapons inspection regime that is neither a U.N. sideshow nor a pretext for U.S. military action.
- New and renewable energy alternatives, instead of Arab oil.
- An end to self-destructive unilateralism, which only alienates the 'Arab street' and our European allies.

3) Recognizes and respects its target audience.
Calling American foreign policy "evil" through channels of mass media will marginalize our cause and give the Right ammunition to destroy important messages before they reach the public. Americans don't like to be accused of evil -- not ever, and especially not now. Compliment this great nation, and mean it - because despite our valid disillusionment and outrage, Americans are given the means and rights to express this outrage. Organizers must be cognizant of how the public perceives their demonstrations and must understand that the world is their audience. It is crucial to avoid speakers who don't know how to present themselves in front of cameras and whose agendas are presented immaturely, if at all. If a member of the "Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade" screams "this is fucking bullshit" into a microphone (which happened at a large Central Park demonstration in early October), make that their last experience with a microphone. We don't need them.

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Image: notinourname.net

November 2002

jay's head
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