"Rounding out our featured trio in the fight for relevance is veteran activist and worthy heroine of the left, co-founder of CODEPINK, Medea Benjamin" (I'm not positive, but I think the "politically-correct" term these days is "hero"--"heroine" having been consigned to spunky, educated ladies in Jane Austen novels, as welcome to the lips and ears of lady activists as, shall we say, "lady activists" or "actresses.").
Undaunted, Mr. Random proceeds: "I have long admired Benjamin and CODEPINK for their constant presence and principled actions on the streets of protest against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." [Me, too!] "but when Benjamin chose to heckle the president at the moment when his message was most allied with hers, it looked a little too staged, a little too desperate, as if all that mattered was getting on the nightly news."
"Political theater has its time and place but in my humble judgment this was neither."
In my own humble judgment, I'm always a little suspicious of people who profess their humility in public! Yes, that includes moi!
Here's the Free Online Dictionary definition of the word "heckle":
1. To try to embarrass and annoy (someone speaking or performing in public) by questions, gibes, or objections; badger. 2. To comb (flax or hemp) with a hatchel.
I have not recently been combing any hemp with a hatchel, and I suspect few others have, so let's concentrate on Definition 1. But first let's recall that some of our brightest literary and philosophical lights--including Mark Twain, H.L. Mencken, Thoreau and Socrates were gosh-darn good hecklers! Twain said that there was no permanent criminal class in America" except the U.S. Congress! And something like this: that a government, a tryranny, a malicious authority could accept and manage any kind of criticism except for ridicule! Which is close enough to "gibes" for me!. H.L. Mencken observed: "Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem--which is neat, plausible, and wrong." I believe that Mr. Random's assertion that "Benjamin chose to heckle the president at the moment when his message was most allied with hers" and that "it looked a little too staged, a little too desperate, as if all that mattered was getting on the nightly news" is, bluntly, "neat, plausible, and wrong."
I might also call it part of the current malaise of the Left--perfectly understandable, regrettable, and to be overcome! This ain't no time to be singin' the Blues! A little before Mr. Random's article appeared, we were deluged with news of our unworthy IRS banditoes (I mean, "officials") taking a lavish Vulcan holiday from reason at the schlimazel honest taxpayer's expense! A little after Mr. Random's piece, we're further inundated with news of a massive NSA surveillance operation (I mean, "spying") against the whole-shebang US population! Is it not past time to "embarrass" and "annoy"--even to "badger"--our dunces and expostulators "performing in public"?
Mr. Random persists: "Obama did not announce that CIA control of the drone program would immediately stop or questionable assassinations would immediately cease and that too was cause for dissatisfaction [for Medea]. To believe that the president could affect these changes immediately is more naivety than I am willing to believe Medea Benjamin possesses." In the end, as much as I wanted to be with her and to support her action, the most I could muster was empathy."
First of all, the question of immediacy: O was promising to close Gitmo during his first Presidential campaign! Enough already!
Further, I believe the word that Mr. Random means to "muster" is not so much "empathy" as "condescencion" or "patronization." From Psychology Today I gather: "Empathy is the experience of understanding another person's condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling." Had Mr. Random felt what Medea was feeling, he would not have taken her to task!
And now we approach Mr. Random's coup de gras: "It is no secret that the left is in decline. Since the gradual and perhaps inevitable disappearance of the Occupy Movement, the culture of principled protest has suffered."
I am not at all sure what that means. Just today, as I am writing this article, the whistle-blower on the NSA spying scandal has stepped forward and identified himself. Isn't he an incarnation of "principled protest"? Aren't Medea Benjamin, Bradley Manning, Lynne Stewart, Julian Asange, Cindy Sheehan, Kathy Kelly, Sibel Edmonds, Cynthia McKinney, Adam Kokesh and millions of others speaking out, acting out, agitating, heckling all over this hurting globe? This ain't no time to be singin' the Blues!
Rather, it's a time to accept diversity of views and approaches. Not just our rapacious Empire, but our dear little speck-of-dust planet appears to be dying before our eyes. The rich get richer and the complacent and complaisant exchange places.
"Sadly," Mr. Random writes, "we are not building a movement at the moment; we are struggling for relevance and ill-timed gestures with an uncertain message will not help."
Au contraire, mon frere! We are building a "movement" and it is happening before our pollution-fogged eyes--even now--with every word we write, every "gesture" ("ill-timed" and otherwise). It is a global movement against the tyrannies of the 1 percenters and the 1 percent of the 1 percenters; against the rape of the Earth and the slaughter, deracination and torture of its sentient beings. There are bound to be fits and starts! There are bound to be wrong turns, detours, divarications. We don't have a lot of time to get things right, to turn this ship around. We've had our Great Collapse and one might call this age now, the Great Wrenching.