protest "warriors" or protest losers??
scott & jerry centex Anti Racist Action, 02.03.2005
You've seen their "protest warrior" website. They look organized and well funded. Their images are strong and the messages are mixed. When they crash an event people don't know what to do. Are they protest warriors or protest losers?
"Protest Warriors" or Protest Losers?:
by scott and Jerry
Central Texas A.R.A.
You've seen their signs and you've seen their website. They look organized and well funded. Their images are strong and the messages are mixed. When they crash an event people don't know what to do. Who are they?
A little history/ideology to add to what the Protest Warrior's have listed as their "history" on their site. The outgrowth of this group has roots in groups like the Free Republic and other "consumer" and "freedom" groups (of which there are a myriad of front names and acronyms which we will not cover here) which emerged in the 90s. These groups became the foot soldiers for corporations either unwittingly or through alliance in values. For example these fools are part of groups like those "pro-smoking "groups that ‘protest’ when city ordinances against smoking come up in cities. Some are paid while others are just dupes in the public relations games. Free Republic, started by Jim Robinson, became the largest of these kinds of groups with about a million members. By about `99 FR become "the" voice of these conservative / corporate movements outside of fundamentalist Christian / white supremacist movements.
The "freepers" "are mostly 40-60 year old libertarians, conservatives, and "oddball conspiracy nuts". As the "freepers" grew, in-fighting and money mis-management from the founder surfaced. From this, as well as dissatisfaction from the younger conservatives (20-30 years old) who saw "freepers" as boring and not hip enough, grew Protest "Warrior".
What the PW's took from the freepers, besides confused politics, was the idea of forums for people to share "ideas" with each other, online places to organize around vague concepts like ("american democracy", and "american freedom") and the idea of crashing events instead of organizing their own .What the PW's added was the "young", "hip" factor as well as sarcasm in their messages. Their past intent has been to confuse the "left" and the 'liberal' media at protest by the messages on their signs. This tactic has worked, to a small degree, especially amongst, inexperienced groups, or activists as well as in the corporate media.
Now that the Protest Wankers game is "on" many people from the freepers forums are now on the PW forums too. You see a lot of the same people showing up or organizing events, especially the older crowd. They have attracted a large base of people on their forums in a relatively short time. They claim to have a membership of about 8,000-12,000 in the last year and a half. They have struck a chord in the conservative movements and grown quickly.
Frat Daddies or BrownShirts?
They claim to NOT be racist or fascist but look at their forums any day of the week and derogatory words like "towel heads, fags, camel jockeys, bitch" and others are used by people on their "moderated" lists. The moderators (Alan Lipton and Kfir Alfia the founders, and others ) would and could easily remove the offending posts but don't. The PW's are pro-Zionist (Kfir is Israeli and Alan is of Jewish descent) and express much hatred to Palestinians and Arab people. People of middle-eastern descent are referred to as "terrorists" and "islamo-fascist" in most every mention. Anti-immigration sentiment has often been expressed. Occasionally even anti Jewish stuff will get posted and not deleted. There are often overt threatening statements about killing 'homosexuals', commies and liberals on these forums.
Their forums are also breeding grounds and lurking places for real white supremacist/nationalist and their theories. There are posters with names like "angry and proud" that have white nationalist crap for quotes as well as posters with names like "crazy 88" and "88now".( 88 is often used as a "covert" racist symbol for heil Hitler by white nationalist). There are quite a few high school kids who post and if these ideas don't get challenged in the Right’s own camp they could easily see hate speech as credible especially when mixed with other things they all agree on (american freedom, american democracy etc). ( Ed.Note: An early version of this article was leaked to the PW’s and the offending posters mentioned above as well as some of the quotes are now ‘mysteriously’ gone).
The PW's are also extremely confused on what fascism means and the historical examples of it. They claim that we are 'leftist fascist', 'peace nazis' and 'brown shirts'. They even lamely attempted to organize against some white nationalist in Pennsylvania in Oct. 2004 because Hitler was a ‘socialist’. The comparisons to 'brown shirts' is a very apt description for them. There have been reports that some of them will not hesitate to engage in low-level frat-boy violence at demos. This is not to be confused with political/tactical violence but there is the potential for them to move in that direction. Currently, their tactics are a variety of reactionary derogatory name calling, pushing and shoving. Their tactic of crashing events for fun is reminiscent of fraternity antics.
They also will not hesitate to call in the state if something they don't like that is happening to them. People within their group claimed responsibility for calling the Feds on Sherman Austin and the Raise the Fist site. There is some speculation that those same people set him up by posting bomb making info on his site, then called the state to turn him in. When the PW site was shut down recently they claimed to have called the Feds and other "law enforcement' to turn Indymedia network as responsible for it. Also during the RNC when the PW's tried to join large marches and got into conflict they immediately began calling for the police to back them up. They inherited some of this willingness to play dirty from the “Freepers” who have clandestinely used mace on protestors during large anti-globalization protests.
The PW's have an impressive roster of "chapters" in name. But on closer inspection many of these are just one person email contacts in some town somewhere, but as stated earlier they are growing fast. However a recent reorganization has reduced and the number of chapters and consolidated them. They are, at this point, an ineffectual, reactionary group that knows what they are against (liberals, "the left", commies, terrorists etc.) but cannot define what they are for. Sure they are for american liberty, and american freedom, etc. but those are broad abstracts. They are not for anything solid at the moment that can build long term organizing or movements. They are a "paper tiger" roaring hard and tough on their forums, but not getting out for any real organizing in the streets with some notable exceptions where their chapters are well lead.
One of their biggest operations of the year was the RNC in NY. From their 8,000 members nationwide they could only draw about 200-250 people. They do actively, to varying degrees, disrupt our rallies, steal media at our events and make threats in the streets around the country. They don't seem to have any organizing skills or experience among any members. Just a willingness to be smarmy, invasive and annoying which stops them from being a real threat at the moment From watching their "operations" online and in the real world for the last year and a half, Dallas is the most successful thing they have going on in the whole country. They effectively stopped groups from protesting the war in Dallas by outnumbering them and intimidation. This is partly attributed to the political climate in Dallas and the fact that the "freepers" were already well established before the PW's arrived.
Although the PW's are minor threat to many organizations or individuals at the moment they need to be watched for numerous reasons including:
-They are in the early stages of organizing and, as we have seen , can be dupes of corporate agendas. They and groups linked to them will actively side with corporations in the anti-globalization fight. Members of the PW's and the freepers have gone after large groups like Greenpeace and Rain Forest Action Network., while siding with corporations like Oxy and ExxonMobil.
-They have potential to be used by the state to disrupt our activities and organizing. By either directly working with the state at varying levels, or by the state not stepping in when they are disruptive to our work.
--They have created a space where no one challenges them on their racist, sexist, homophobic language or their violent threats to these groups because they are not 'overt white supremacist'. Even if their members don't pull the trigger they have complicity by portraying any groups that disagree with them as enemies of 'freedom and amerikkka or whatever their values'. This is especially true to the general public or the mainstream media.
-They have quite a large number of religious right sympathizers and members in their ranks and their voices are being amplified on the issues of anti-choice/womyn as well as gay issues. The marginal christian right now has a common ally to pursue their issues in a more secular forum.
-Many groups on our side do not have the experience or the knowledge on how to ignore or stop them. In the recent past there were only fringe groups or people who might occasionally show up somewhere to disrupt. The PW's are organizing concerted efforts to be at every progressive event we organize. They can also create conflict and distraction within various groups by how they are dealt with. If overt conflict is used to stop them , then groups (as they have historically) get divided into good/bad protestors.
- They have no problem occupying what spaces we have carved out either in the streets or online. Members of their group have continually hacked IMC and 'leftist' sites to shut them down. They also invade the posting sections of places like the IMCs and other forums, in some cases posting more than 'we' do. And we know what they do in the streets.
- The PW's represent an evolution in street organizing by the right. They are the next logical step in the building of groups built around loose connected ideologies rather than rigid single issue groups like Operation Rescue.
-Far and away the greatest danger posed the PW’s is the ideological space that they occupy. Until now, the mainstream right has not had foot soldiers willing to take to the streets. This is changing. There is a real danger that the PW’s or a similar group could well “morph” into a real street army for the Republican Party. This force could be used to physically dismantle the left.
In closing we will say they are very susceptible, at this point, to psychological disruption fairly easily in the streets. They are an open ended group with not much organizing experience. They are also stuck in hierarchies, Alan and Kfir are leaders of this for profit private corporation (Protest Warrior LLC) registered in Texas. Chapter 'leaders' organize regional ‘counter-protests’. On the streets they have been shut down with many varied tactics in the last few months. The coming months will be the real litmus of their abilities since the election. They may just stagnate and become another online forum in the great 'cyber-world' or they may actually develop into brown shirts they strive to be. Bertram Gross in his book from 1982 "Friendly Fascism' predicted that the coming fascism in amerikkka would not look like what we saw historically. It would be corporate / state and it would have a friendlier face to it. In our opinion they're here as the Protest Warrior’s, Free Republic as well as groups like them.
This article was written with input, support and analysis from members of Central Texas Anti Racist Action.
For more information, dialog or complaints or additions please email firstname.lastname@example.org