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actions & protests | community building m19 2006

Code Pink and Dogmatism

Yesterday I experienced 2 instances of Code Pink members engaged in anti-free speech action, and I feel that it is very important that this be addressed. First, a woman approached our group while we were stopped on the street and covered our banner with her sign while shouting "these people are neocons, they're neocons!" The banner read "fuck the troops," which she clearly upset about...but instead of engaging in a dialogue to hear our point of view and express hers, she attempted to prevent our freedom of expression. She was asked a few times why she was opposing free speech at an event that was supposed to be celebrating just that, but all she would say was "these people are neocons, they're all neocons..."

As I was riding the bus home after the protest, a drunk woman was lecturing a 12ish year old boy about how he should be going to church when a lady with a CodePink button next to her began half-yelling at her for doing that, and asked if she went to church drunk. The drunk woman said "who the fuck do you think you are, talking to me like that?" to which the CodePink woman did not respond. A few minutes later, a woman with a young girl said, we'll go get some fries when we get home...the CodePink lady looked at her and said "fries aren't food." She told her that they were a treat and the CodePink woman said "oh...well, okay."

The CodePink woman, the woman with the young girl, and myself all got off the bus at the same stop to wait for another bus, so I asked the CodePink woman about the lady I had encountered at the protest. She seemed puzzled about the story I told her, but when I said that I was marching in the black bloc, she said "oh, well that's because we don't agree with what you do." This was the last civil statement she made. She began screaming about how we are "a bunch of spoiled brats who think [we] can throw a tantrum whenever we want and everyone should stop and listen to us." I asked her to please not make ageist statements, and she said something along the lines of "I am agist, I don't care. Your generation doesn't understand blah blah blah..." When I asked her why she should be able to demonstrate freely for her cause while I should not, she yelled "You don't have a cause." The entire time this was going on (about 5 minutes) I was continually asking her to please talk instead of yelling, as the young girl was becoming visibly upset by all of this. She refused, and when the girl finally began crying I left and walked home out of respect for her and her mother.

The refusal of both of these women to engage in any sort of meaningful dialogue can mean only one of two things, the way I see it - either they are too dogmatic learn the reasoning behind different viewpoints, or they are not informed enough to carry on such a conversation...and I would like to believe that it is not the latter. Both of these women seem to feel that theirs is the only correct stance on the issue, and that all others should be silenced, be they extreme right or anarchist. They preach but don't listen. This is the same egocentric/classist standpoint that our government has taken, and it is a dangerous one. We will never see change as long as those who wish for it are divided and continue to alienate one another. I urge the women of CodePink to please be more open-minded, and look to dialogue rather than dogmatism for success.

If either of the women mentioned here is reading this, please email me and maybe we can get some coffee and talk.

strange ideas of freedom of speech and expression 20.Mar.2006 14:25


Did these people have congress pass a law prohibiting your freedom of speech or assembly? Did they have you thrown in jail or executed? Did they have your published works destroyed?

It's good to call for dialogue between people with different ideas, particularly offline where people can meet face to face. But it's also good not to resort to inappropriate hyperbole if you truly seek dialogue.

another incident (but not code pink) 20.Mar.2006 15:31


I was watching the march finish off in Waterfront Park and a middle-aged guy said sarcastically to me and my friends "Oh now we're safe, the bolshevics are here." When we looked puzzled he started going off about that same banner and how he thought maybe there should be limits on freedom of speech after all. He disappeared before I could engage him in meaningful dialogue. I certainly don't agree with him or the alleged reactions of the code pink people but I'm not surprised.

Careful... 20.Mar.2006 15:40


You are assuming these women were representing Code Pink's philosophy. That's not true. Just because they were wearing Code Pink buttons doesn't mean they're affiliated with Code Pink - and they were acting as individuals, not as representatives of the group. Please don't generalize.

? 20.Mar.2006 15:57


I never said that the women I mentioned were representative of Code Pink as a whole, and they were referred to in the article solely on an individual basis. There are many others who feel and act the same way, and this was just an open invitaiton for dialogue.

One question I must ask you: 20.Mar.2006 15:58


Why do you carry a banner that says "Fuck the troops?"

The troops are certainly getting fucked by the Bush Crime Family, especially if they get wounded or injured or come home with PTSD. (It's telling that the Oregonian had as its main story for the 3rd anniversary of the war not a story about how wonderful it is in Iraq, but a story about how the war ruined a National Guard soldier's life, and his struggles against PTSD.)

Many troops or members of their families marched in the rally, either on their own or with Veterans for Peace.

The true people "Fucking the troops" are the neocons and the Bush Crime Family. All the while pushing a state of endless war, they cut veterans' benefits, VA health care, and hide the dead, injured, and traumatized.

dan 20.Mar.2006 16:17


You titled your article "Code Pink and dogmatism"=-= that implies that you think their actions were representing Code Pink. You keep referring to them as Code Pink women throughout your article. Why associate Code Pink with them at all if you're not intending to associate them with Code Pink or CP's politics?

Support the Troops.... .... NOT ! 20.Mar.2006 16:36


The only troops that are worthy of my support in this volunteer imperialist machine , are the 8000 plus that have refused to return or gone A W O L since the beginning of this criminal attack .

? 20.Mar.2006 16:51


I am sure that you fully understand the meaning of what I wrote, so why do you pick apart syntax and attempt to undermine what is just an opinion...you've made yourself just another example of someone attacking others with whom you should probably be cooperating. May you one day find solace in unity.

syntax? 20.Mar.2006 17:07


Dan, it's not about syntax when you're saying things like "Code Pink and Dogmatism" "Code Pink members engaged in anti-free speech action" "the CodePink lady" "I urge the women of CodePink to please be more open-minded, and look to dialogue rather than dogmatism for success." It's about your choice of words.

No, I don't fully understand the meaning of what you wrote. It sounds like you're dissing Code Pink as a group. If that's not your intent, then please be more careful about how you word things.

Don't let your babies grow up to be liberals 20.Mar.2006 19:07


The actions of certain Code Pink members can be explained by the social phenomenon known as authoritarianism. My experience is that liberals can have a rabid authoritarian/anti-democratic streak when anything is done by people on the left that is out of their control. In other words anything that calls for something beyond voting for Democrats in the next election. Their actions to sabotage Green party conventions and keep Ralph Nader of state ballots in 2004, their "non-violent" practice of physically attacking and sicking the police on demonstrators who do property destruction or even non-violent cd. They employ selective outrage, concerned about the deaths in Iraq under Bush, but for the most part supporting the sanctions perpetrated by Clinton that killed hundreds of thousands. Employing a defense of ageism as justification for her denegration of a potential ally is patently authoritarian, and ironic since being a baby boomer (I'm assuming) she is a member of the most pampered, spoiled generation in the history of the world. The subjects seem to want to push their beliefs on anyone who comes within 10 feet of them whether they like it or not.
As for the first comment, political repression is not limited to governments, any number of non-government groups can be involved in it. Para-military groups, religious institutions, armed gangs are some examples that come to mind.

Misperception? 20.Mar.2006 19:29


I'm curious as to whether the individual shouting that "they're all neocons" held the obviously mistaken impression that the black bloc contingent were deliberate "plants" intended to provoke and disrupt the march. If this was actually the misguided reason for her interference, it would be an unfortunate reminder of the Hoover-esqe sowing of discord among us. Her reactions, particularly the use of the term "neocon" (even considering its overuse), seem bizarre in the context of the situation, and in light of Code Pink's apparently supportive attitudes toward anarchism in general. As for the individual on the bus...yikes...kudos for a pragmatic response in both episodes.

dan and noid 20.Mar.2006 19:32


Have it right. Fuck the volunteer, money-hungry troops in this bogus war on terror. And we want to bring these killers/torturers home so that many of them can join our local police forces?! Screw 'em!

"I question the logic of many anti-war activists. They readily complain (rightfully so) about U.S. police forces abusing them during peaceful protests, yet they continue to support U.S. police forces who commit far worse abuses on Iraqi civilians. Try to compare the feel of pepper spray or the impact of rubber bullets with the experience of having foreign occupiers shooting you and your family with real bullets!

The imperialism of the Bush administration would lie dormant, if not for the atrocities carried out by U.S. troops. During WWII, the Nazis were also "just following orders." But in 1950, the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal said, "Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore, individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."

Forty years ago, Buffy Sainte-Marie wrote "Without him, all this killing can't go on. He's the universal soldier, and he really is to blame. His orders come from far away no more. They come from him, and you, and me."

And if progressives really want to put a stop to the deaths of innocent people with the spread of American Empire, we must stop all support for it -- and that includes supporting the troops!"


"Many of those who advocate nonviolent direct action against war allow themselves to become manipulated by those who volunteer into situations that promote nothing but violence. 'Supporting the troops' means creating consent for illegal wars, and the killing of innocent people. ... period."




Did YOU help plan the event? 20.Mar.2006 20:03

Auntie Rose

So, Dan, were YOU present when people spent months planning the event? Maybe you don't realize it, but much work goes in to setting the TONE of the event (like not alienating people with signs like the one you carried). The "Black Bloc" shows up doing its own thing, without regard for anyone else, without contributing anything, and without offering any real solution.

No, but you oh so clearly did. 20.Mar.2006 20:35


Let me first of all say that the tone is overwhelmingly authoritarian, as is pretty much expected of an organizer of an event like this. It's pretty inappropriate that you feel like YOU should control the tone of an event because YOU helped organize it. This being the case, it seems as though maybe you helped plan the event in order to have that feel of control over it. Your attitude clearly shows that you did not help organize a public forum for dissent, rather you were hoping for a mass of people to demonstrate and reinforce your own beliefs. Sound familiar anyone? As for not "offering any real solution," if your solution is only to hold an annual, permitted(read: "paid for") march and to vote for a Democratic or Green candidate, I suggest you reevaluate your strategy. If you need help with that, lets meet for coffee and talk about it sometime...but please, leave your attitude at home.

Invitation 21.Mar.2006 09:32

Auntie Rose

Dan, I invite you and your "Black Bloc" friends (one of whom I know, respect, and admire in many ways) to put together a demonstration in which a great number of people feel good about attending. Please let me know when this happens; I will attend.

Thank you for the coffee meeting invitation. Talking is a GOOD thing; I can try to leave my "attitude" at home.....

Let me put you straight 21.Mar.2006 10:36

on something

US Military Veterans, whatever side of the conflict they are on, are ALL "The Troops". You wave a sign like that in front of veterans and they will say "fuck you" right back. A great many of us saw your sign. I'd venture to say very, very few appreciated it and you succeeded in alienating the vast majority of us who were still trying to be inclusive.

Our listserves are ringing with the age old arguement about flag burning, and all sentiment aside, practical political assessment of your constant burnings is that they alienate the general public which we attempt to reach. You have made yourselves an impediment to our goals whom we tolerate because we have to. This is probably not what you want to hear, but there it is.

The free speech you exercise is protected activity, but do not for a minute suppose that means you will not be criticized for it. We are, by our detractors. We are called traitors and worse for trying to defend the country we love from the murderous corporate hegemonists who are selling us all down the river. So if you do something for shock value, expect people to be shocked and outraged. Don't whine about it when they get upset and act out!

Disclaimer: Altho I think I have taken the overall temperature pretty accurately, this is my own point of view. I do not speak for all Peace Vets but I suspect if you ask around you will find most of us agree about this.

Doubtful if any of this actually happened 21.Mar.2006 13:17

Some how

Some how I doubt that we're being told the full story here. If any of it actually happened, there's probably a lot the author didn't mention -- and coming from someone who admits to having played pretend as a "Black Block" person, I'd expect that little of the story has any basis in fact.

goals... 21.Mar.2006 14:53


"You have made yourselves an impediment to our goals whom we tolerate because we have to. This is probably not what you want to hear, but there it is."

And that's the problem, isn't it? Your goals are VASTLY different than ours. I won't define your goals for you (you know what they are way better than I, I'm certain) but I know my goals entail the removal of the world's number one purvayor of misery from the planet. Which, of course, means that it would be foolish for any who share that goal to support the poor schlubs who went and joined what is essentially the strong arm of American foreign policy.

Do I feel bad for those kids? Of course. They're young and stupid for the most part. But I'm not about to claim to support a bunch of dumb kids who have spent the past 3 years following illegal and immoral orders. "Just following orders" hasn't been a viable defense in years. You know it and I know it. Anyone who fights in this illegal war is BY DEFINITION a war criminal. Want me to cite the law on that one? (US code of military conduct, Geneva convention, UN charter.... I'm sure there are a few other laws that support this concept).

"We are called traitors and worse for trying to defend the country we love from the murderous corporate hegemonists who are selling us all down the river."

And there is the difference! I wear the badge of traitor with PRIDE. If opposing this fascist government and a country whose very founding were based on theft of land, murder of the poor, enslavement of non-whites, genocide and general shitty behavior through out our entire 250+ year history, then hey, guess what?

I'm proud to be a traitor. Why aren't you?

Dear Auntie Rose 21.Mar.2006 20:39


Maybe if you had been more involved with the anti-war movement in 2003 you would know that anarchists were heavily involved in the Day X protest (which was a far more decentralized, effective, and uplifting event), and the far smaller marches that followed during the week the anti-war movement died. I'm sure few radicals saw the point in helping organize an event that was going to be nothing beyond a permitted rally and march, which liberals are quite skilled at organizing. That being said I do think the sign was needlessly provacative, and I don't see the point of dressing in black bloc if it's not being used for it's designed purpose. Anarchism has a long proud tradition and far from having "nothing to offer". In fact the exaulted status of Ghandi as a near deity in liberal circles is derived from Ghandi's admiration for the pacifist anarchism of Leo Tolstoy. Google Anarchist FAQ and you will find hundreds of pages of what anarchists have to offer.

Fuck the Troops! 21.Mar.2006 22:54


First off, I do not want to participate in the activist olympics with Code Pink members or people that claim to be Code Pink members. Most of us are trying to change the world and I haven't really felt much resistance (or any) from Code Pink members against the bloc.

The members of the permit- waving organizational peace cops that attempted to grab a bullhorn from my hands and talk to me about sitting in the street aside Waterfront Park are a different story. You are not on "my side" nomatter how passively-aggressivesly you talk to me or how very aggressively you scream at me. You are worse than the neocons themselves. I would like to inform these types that I will be adament in standing up for their voices even though they will not stand up for mine due to our ideological differences. Whether you invite me or not, whether I go to the mind-numbing organizational meetings that sap my time and dilute our efforts, whether or not you pay for a permit or not, whether or not I decide to obey the rules of said permit or not, whether or not you like me or the banner I am holding, I WILL STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH YOU against imperialism, injustices, and war until I cannot stand anymore. Or, until you have me removed.
The bloc and others have offered a difference of opinion, we have offered an alternative to conformity and reformity, and we have offered our voices and our bodies for your "peace" rallies time and time again, even though you have invited the cops (and sometimes encouraged them) to hurt and intimidate us in extremely non-peaceful ways.
What do your goals of "inclusion" entail when they don't include us? Where will your middle of the road rallies be when the cops don't have the bloc to single out and beat down anymore? Face it, and I know you don't want to hear this, they might come after you and your messages next.
You think my tactics are faulty and I think yours are also, but that makes little difference when it comes to solidarity. I could not believe how many people you misinformed and told to walk away from a blatently cop-provoked threat towards a protester. How inclusive of you. How peaceful. Too bad he didn't look like you or carry a similar banner or maybe he wouldn't have been singled out.
By the way, I don't think that the banner alienated as many as you claim because I heard many people tell us that they agreed with the message. That's right, people actually agreed with the banner.
In the end, if there is ever an end to this, if a soldier wants to go AWOL, I will bake them cookies, fundraise for their families,feed their fucking cats, send them all the support I can, but I will not support the active troops that have a choice as to whether or not they participate in occupation and killing. If you want to, then why are you marching against the war?
Support the troops=support the wars