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Commentary :: Organizing
Don’t Take it to the Streets: Uncle Todd’s Revisionist History
18 Aug 2004
In a letter to New York protesters, left-bashing former leftists Todd Gitlin and John Passacantando offer a pinched and erroneous history of the ‘60s civil rights and anti-war movements, in calling on RNC demonstrators to act with Gandhi-like passivity in the face of Mayor Bloomberg’s repressive plans.
The mass demonstration in New York City planned for Aug. 29 on the eve of the Republican National Convention, the first full-scale protest against Bush policies and especially the War against Iraq in well over half a year, promises to bring upwards of half a million people into the city’s narrow streets.

With the city’s mayor, Republican Michael Bloomberg, hell-bent on on blunting that protest and creating a crisis by shunting marchers off onto the West Side Highway, which runs, unshaded and remote along Manhattan’s left flank, Todd Gitlin, former SDSer from a bygone era and in more recent years self-styled critic of the “radical left,” and John Passacantando, executive director of Greenpeace USA and another one-time radical turned old softie, have offered their “words of wisdom” to the young and the restless.

“Let dissent with dignity win the day,” they intone in a Nation article, sounding like wizened old uncles. “Red-hot rage may seem in order when the country's values have been trampled upon by a government with a dubious claim to legitimacy. Yet the theatrics of rage can easily play into Bush's hands. Righteousness, if not rooted in humility and focused on results--on persuasive power--will offend more than it attracts and fall victim to its own arrogance, as surely as arrogance undercuts Bush. “

In warning against violent or destructive behavior, Gitlin and Passacantando raise the specter of the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, suggesting that the violence in the streets at that event was the work of government provocateurs and that the current movement could be vulnerable to the same tactics.

They go on to recall the Civil Rights Movement marchers of an even earlier time, saying, “Consider the brave young men and women of the civil rights movement, sitting with dignity at lunch counters throughout the South. In film footage of the time, you can see them attacked by uncivilized whites, who curse them, beat them--and thus reveal themselves as bullies and cowards. The civilly disobedient cover themselves in self-defense but never raise their hands in anger. They appeal over their adversaries' heads to the majority who, they believe--they have to believe--will see the justice of their cause.”

This has long been Gitlin’s shtick, of course. When International A.N.S.W.E.R. was doing the yeoman work of organizing mass rallies against Bush’s rush to war back in early 2003, pulling hundreds of thousands to the Mall in Washington, Gitlin was out there on the public airwaves undermining their efforts, redbaiting their Marxist influences, and trashing their inclusion of the Palestinian State as an issue, and the movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, the long-imprisoned Philadelphia black journalist on Pennsylvania’s death row.

Now he’s raising the bugaboo of “protest violence.”

But Gitlin and Passacantando, in their missive, offer us a sepia-toned, revisionist view of the ‘60s.

For the rest of this column, please go (at no charge) to This Can't Be Happening! .
See also:
http://www.thiscantbehappening.net

This work is in the public domain
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Re: Don’t Take it to the Streets: Uncle Todd’s Revisionist History
19 Aug 2004
Mumia? Well Mumia shouldn't have shot that cop then he wouldn't be in jail now would he? Just because your an angry black gang-banger doesn't mean you can just go out and start shooting white police officers.
Re: Don’t Take it to the Streets: Uncle Todd’s Revisionist History
19 Aug 2004
When are they going to finally fry mumia...???? I hope it's sooner rather than later. A little bit of trivia about mumia ( crack smoking piece of sh*t), the AFRICAN AMERICAN prosecutor who tried mumia stated that that the case against mumia was the MOST clear cut case that he had ever tried inwhich the evidence proved the defendant's guilt....Burn in hell mumia !!!!