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You’ll get pie in the sky…

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 1, 2007

pie-in_face.jpg

Medea Benjamin got pied yesterday at the United States Social Forum in Atlanta, Georgia by the Bakers Without Borders and Co-optation Watch.

From Global Exchange to Code Pink, Medea Benjamin impresses me as a grandstander who, as the Bakers correctly point, acts “as self-appointed spokesperson of the ‘American Left’.” Whether she should have been pied is a different matter.

The incident certainly brought something to my attention that has corrected a false impression I had of Medea. Her infamous quote from Seattle 1999 [“Here we are protecting Nike, McDonald’s, The Gap, and all the while I’m thinking, ‘Where are the police? These anarchists should have been arrested.’] left the impression that she wanted all the black bloc anarchists tossed into jail. Benjamin’s statement from Z Magazine, as quoted in the comments section to the pie throwing piece, is worth reprinting.

“There has been some controversy about a quote from me that appeared in the New York Times Dec. 2. The quotation implied that I was calling for the arrest of those people who destroyed property in downtown Seattle during the WTO protest. I want to make it clear that the quote was distorted, taken out of context, and not reflective my true feelings. I did not call for the arrest of anyone, though I did point out the irony that the police were attacking nonviolent protesters while ignoring those destroying property. Do I wish the people causing the damage had been arrested? No. Would I have helped to get them out of jail if they had been? Yes. And I certainly apologize if the statement attributed to me has caused any harm to the anarchist community in general. Do I approve of the tactics that this particular group of self-described anarchists used in Seattle Nov. 30? Definitely not. That, not the distorted quote, is the real issue here. There are certainly occasions in which the destruction of property furthers the cause of social justice and helps garner public support, but this was not one of them. The Boston Tea Party is an example of the destruction of property a shipment of tea. When the Zapatistas rose up in 1994, they destroyed army posts and other symbols of a repressive state. Members of the religious community in the United States have destroyed weapons of mass destruction to express their profound moral opposition to war. And forest activists have destroyed the engines of bulldozers to prevent the clear-cutting of old-growth forests. “The list of tactically thoughtful and politically principled property destruction goes on and on. What these acts have in common is that they were the result of a long process of working with and gaining the support of the affected community. This was not the case in Seattle.”

— Medea Benjamin, Z Magazine

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