portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary portland metro

community building | media criticism

Radical Ignorance: The Dangers of Blind Paranoia

There is a difference between healthy awareness, and blind fear and paranoia. Why has unchecked slander become the norm of the radical left? #Rumorville
In a recent Willamette Week article (10/23/2013, Vol. 39/51) entitled 'Whack-A-Mole', reporter Andrea Damewood explores the recent, online, viral controversy instigated by a post made by the Committee Against Political Repression (CAPR).

 http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-21434-whack_a_mole.html

The CAPR lists a series of allegations towards an alleged FBI mole by the name of Vahid Brown who has been active in the local Portland activist scene. (Original CAPR post can be found here)

 http://nopoliticalrepression.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/watch-out-for-fbi-trainer-vahid-brown/

In the CAPR post, Brown is accused of being an FBI mole because he served as an outside FBI consultant and educator on the issues of Islam and Western perceptions on the 'War on Terror'. While it is understandable why such a work history would give reason for most activists to pause and desire to inquire more about the issue, there is a disturbing trend in "radical leftist" culture to not inquire more. Currently anyone can post unchecked rumors and allegations, and destroy the lives of innocent people in what can only be described as a fear-based witch-hunt. What is worse is that many well-known and "respected" local activists partake and perpetuate this ignorance.

In the Willamette Week article we discover that not only are the mole allegations of Vahid Brown blatantly false, but that there is a repeated history of damaging false accusations towards activists who are outside the peripheral of leftist anarchist cliques. Activists on all ends of the spectrum should be embarrassed and outraged at fear based propaganda, the very tactic used by the state to destroy and repress activism. This is not to deny the reality of state based oppression, spying, and agent provocateurs- it is simply to allow for the process of mindfulness to emerge before engaging in uniformed slander.

Two prominent local activists (who will remain nameless for this opinion piece) are quoted in the WW article with saying " You have to assume everyone you didn't give birth to is an FBI agent." AND "Association with the enemy, academic or not, is enough to warrant exclusion." These statements are highly problematic. The first problem is that there is a large difference between having a healthy awareness of the realities facing those actively engaged in political activism, and unhealthy paranoia. Unhealthy paranoia is the type of paranoia that dictates ones life, ones ability to maintain a healthy level of trust and inclusion of others. Movement building is simply not possible with this level of mistrust; on a spiritual level it is also simply a very sad way to engage with the world.

The second problem with this line of thinking is that it does nothing to critically challenge the mainstream adversarial nature or 'war making' mentality of the state. For many, activism is less about "smashing the State" then it is about transformation through education, knowledge, and enlightenment. Those who know the challenges of peacemaking know that the real work comes from the long and arduous journey of consciousness changing. Tapping into the hearts and minds of perceived opponents is when and where meaningful change happens. Those with the knowledge and ability to change the world have a moral obligation and duty to do so. This often means working in undesirable environments or with perceived enemies in an effort to affect change. Those who would discourage this transformation are in the end, their own worst enemies.

Why is this discussion important? It is important because what the Brown controversy suggests, is that anyone and everyone interested in engaging in processes of change from within, are (or will be) deemed as an automatic "threat" or "enemy" by certain leftist circles. Unity is therefore a form of rhetoric only intended for those who live, work, and act exactly like those empowered to cast slanderous allegations. Finally, it also affirms the idea that those most disconnected from the inner workings of the state have the most to fear. You simply cannot change that with which you do not know. It is unclear which is worse, the blatant harmful ignorance of those consumed by fear, or the silence of those who stand witness to this ignorance and do nothing. Please don't choose fear, or silence.

Additional Suggested Reading:  link to www.vice.com

not just the radical left 29.Oct.2013 17:45

hb

the radical right believes that President Obama actually promised that healthcare would be cheaper, and nobody would lose their Doctors under Obamacare. How crazy is that?

all of my heroes have fbi files 29.Oct.2013 18:00

no surrender

i guess the one operative word here is cointelpro.

given the history of police state infiltrators let loose to derail every single radical left movement in this country in the past 70 years, it does not take an exceptional intellect to measure that organizing with anyone who has worked as an advocate for the fbi, a death squad domestic terrorist organization, is a bad, BAD idea.

i feel for the guy, don't get me wrong, but honestly; what the hell did he expect?

and you do NOT have to talk to the fbi.
know your rights
know your rights

and... 30.Oct.2013 09:43

A random observer

CARP shouldn't have made an issue of this. It should have been brought to everyones attention that Vahid is an educator who's worked with the government. If there's a difference of ethics I could understand that. I highly doubt Vahid is giving the government information about the radical community. Just his credentials seems absurd to assume that. But radicals are anti government. They reject the system. They have a right to say "yeah, he's not evil or the devil, but I'm not going to spend a bunch of time organizing anti war demos with the guy." I don't know if I agree with that stance, but I'd understand that. But the CARP decided to essentially serve as a political party instead of doing what they're supposed to be doing, organizing solidarity and educating people to certain dangers. The story behind the Asian man is the one that just makes you drop your head and go "really?" Sweet god was that fucking stupid. But essentially if one of them took a deep breath and thought about it, they could figure out that teaching people to deal with a very real and legitimate fear instead of living their lives in a bubble of (imposed) narcissism and fear where we all communicate like the sky is about to fall every minute of every day for the rest of eternity, is probably somewhat conducive towards community building. If he is or isn't an informer, they're still going to be there, they're still going to find out who you are. Like the man said all your friends have FBI files. If you're here, you've probably spoken to an undercover agent in the last year or so. You just have to accept that. And in his case specifically, he should have been confronted and spoken to about the situation, although yeah, I get it, in a situation like this it's easier said than done.

But I could understand the need to make that public knowledge. But again, they say in the article, they assumed based off of a handful of facts. Assumed is the key word. Never assume when it's right, only when it's some shmuck who thought he could visit that world and come back to yours. It's like Poltergiest. Don't go to the light.

But once again, take it from the master, think before you open your mouths. What feeling do you want to convey? Do you want to strike fear into everyones hearts or allow us to make a rational decision based on common sense and ethics.

And did no one grow up with a significant Asian American community? What was this? Asians to Anarchists are like Ashkenazi Jews to Tracy. We ALL look the same if you're just looking for someone to be afraid of.

Someone did once mistake a reporter for the BBC for an undercover police officer.

 http://reappropriate.co/?tag=captain-chris-uehara

.............. 31.Oct.2013 00:57

................

I want to say one last thing. Anarchists don't believe in political organizations as their ends. Unless you're a syndicalist. I've agreed with every statement the CAPR has made so far. And I'm sincerely grateful for what they've done for your community. But there's a reason why you don't believe in political organizations. There's an inherent flaw and we're all eventually privi to fall victim to its trappings. But the communique was attrocious. "Fact assumption guilt an order done." It was the same thing with Antifa and the bike biggot last year. Our character is what's going to get this through this, and to do that we need to be empowered with information not scared into a corner unless it's an 100 percent guarantee it's justified. That's the first time the CAPR has done that. And if it were written "we feel during these stressful times people have a right to know..." yada yada yada, the writer from Vice probably would have focused his attention on the other person culpable who is incredibly arrogant to come around without being upfront about where he's coming from. He's not evil. But of course the reaction was going to be one of fear.

......................... 09.Nov.2013 07:40

.............

I mean, one last point, if I were presented with just these facts and without the CAPR finishing my thought for me, I would have made the same conclusion, I just might have been more willing to confront the individual. But come on. I mean, never mind the fact that think of the major violation what this community went through last year was. When you hear "FBI" of course that's going to send up sirens. It's ludicrous to think differently. Talk about a fucking trigger. I mean, did Dude not have access to Google? If you could talk to him and maybe see where he's coming from and how he can (if he wants to) contribute to whatever in whatever capacity, but seriously, no wonder people were scared shitless. "FBI." Without any context given at that. Did anyone even know in what capacity he was working for the Federal government until a bunch of arrogant incredibly privelaged journalists picked up the story and decided to bequeath to us there opinion based off of nothing more than the fact that they have one. I"m not saying they shouldn't have ran the story, if only because I hope they helped put peoples fears to rest, but seriously, pass judgement from your fucking laptop. Lot of nerve.