Peace activists went to Tacoma this week to blockade the shipment of Stryker Brigade vehicles and other materials to soldiers in Iraq. According to organizers, the cops acted like a bunch of thugs, at least until the television cameras showed up.
This sort of thing is always disturbing. Cops beating up protesters is nothing new, but with the increased militarization of domestic policing, the contest has become considerably less sporting. Heavily armed cops in Darth Vader gear can't be a good thing for anybody.
That said, when I watch this footage of the Tacoma protest, I feel a little ill, and embarrassed for the left.
Troops and materials are being sent off to what is surely hell on earth. You don't have to agree with the war to understand that this is serious, solemn business.
While the press release I was sent asserts that "OUR ACTIONS ARE NOT AGAINST THE TROOPS," I don't believe most people will see it that way. Blockading materials headed for soldiers in the field is an act that offers little symbolic nuance.
At best, it seems ill-conceived and dumb. At worst, it comes off as traitorous.
Much of the left, though we've had plenty of opportunities to learn, still seems to be completely tone deaf. If we can't see ourselves as others do, then we have chosen to live in the dark. This is no way to build a movement.
The stakes these days are way too high to simply perform political theatrics as a self-indulgent assertion of moral superiority. It's ineffective, it's alienating, and it plays into the hands of the sociopaths who want this war the most.