i think they mean "peaceful". That is, the raving anarchists didn't break any windows, and no one broke any big rules, and everyone stayed pretty much under control and behaved well. (Not entirely well, though -- we heard reports today of UFPJ organizers at the march's end in Union Square linking arms to prevent protesters from going to Central Park, for which UFPJ failed to get a permit.) |
i think they also mean "not angry". Many liberal organizers are afraid of anger. Indeed, i have myself been accused of having "anger issues" when all the person really mean was that i have anger. Having anger and having anger issues are two different things, but for those who are afraid of anger, period, the distinction is lost.
And lastly, i think they mean "on message". This was a straightforward "ABB" (Anyone But Bush) event from the start, and though i know there were folks there whose issues are with capitalism and authoritarianism, not merely their current figurehead, an organizer at this press conference went on about how the anti-Bush message was clear. Great. Whatever. So put Kerry in and see what kind of a difference it makes. Turn the steering wheel a slight bit to the left and the car's still heading for a cliff.
That's the end of my rant. But here's a great quotation from an Alexander Cockburn essay that appeared in Counterpunch today:
After argument with an ABB-er the other day, I asked him about his long-term political perspective . Here he was, I said, beating the drum for a man who stood for everything he opposed: war in Iraq, war in Colombia, war on drugs, war on the deficit, war on teen morals. Oh, he said, the day after we elect John Kerry we'll go to war on him.
Yeah, right! Back in the early and middle 1990s the liberals and progressives were exactly as indulgent to Clinton as they are to Kerry now. After almost four years of Bill Clinton, Washington's liberal advocacy groups, foundations and public interest networks resembled the Vichy French after six years of Nazi occupation.
Pressed for explanations for their pusillanimity, the liberal advocates explained that the Republican hordes who swept into Congress in 1994 were so barbaric, as was the prospect of a Dole presidency, that they had no choice but to circle the wagons round Bill Clinton.
So the Democratic Party, from DLC governors to liberal public-interest groups mustered around their leader and marched into the late Nineties arm in arm along the path sign-posted toward the greatest orgy of corporate theft in the history of the planet, deregulation of banking and food safety, NAFTA and the WTO, rates of logging six times those achieved in the subsequent Bush years, oil drilling in the Arctic, a war on Yugoslavia, Plan Colombia, a vast expansion of the death penalty, re-affirmation of racist drug laws, the foundations of the Patriot Act.
The serious rebellion took place in the streets, in Seattle right at the end of 1999, and the insurgents most certainly didn't come from the progressive/ liberal wing of the Democratic Party.
There's a strong case for arguing that the importance of these presidential contests is disastrously exaggerated.