Dissent's Watershed Moment--and "Vichy Democrats"
Any researcher, given time and inclination, could fill whole books with material documenting the "Nero" or "Caligula" behavior of Big Oil and Gas when its will faces thwarting. As my immediate mission is far more pressing, all you see here is a brief, but highly indicative, sketch. The take-home lesson, which can't be overly stressed, is that this industry has fascism in its blood, and any government that strongly sides with the industry must inevitably turn fascist itself.
Now, the model of fascism applied here (in many respects, the Nazi one) is that an insane minority, for its deeply destructive purposes, tries to obtain consent (or at least noninterference) by propaganda, but where propaganda fails, will readily resort to force--whether or not that force has the cover of legality. But legality (via the passage of unjust laws) is usually preferable, even from the fascists' own standpoint, for it preserves the ever-valuable public impression of legitimacy. This point bears ever so strongly on the planned civil disobedience if Obama approves the pipeline.
From the standpoint of a fascist regime (or one rapidly turning so), there's one great propaganda advantage in fighting civil disobedience: civil disobedience is by definition illegal. Whatever else is true, regime propagandists can factually assert that its dissident opponents are breaking the law. Granted, the law may have been written by Satan himself, and dissidents can of course rightfully cite a higher moral law. But the fact remains that for the average person, open law-breaking has a heavily suspect odor that clings to the person breaking it. This is where propaganda wars get heavily waged, for the high-minded law-breakers need courageous media and political champions strongly convinced they're standing for a higher good. It's also where I fear Bill McKibben and his CD-pledged allies have gravely miscalculated. And the result (for participants) is likely to be brutal and ugly; the general public either won't hear the story at all, or will hear of it as one of America-hating ecoterrorist law-breakers being properly squelched by responsible public authorities. The fact that they were opposing a climate crime against humanity will never be widely reported, and the ultimate effect will be to make dissent (especially against fossil fuel criminals) both deeply disreputable--and scarier than ever.
In short, heroic pipeline dissenters who courageously (or naively) put their bodies on the line will be vilified and punished as common criminals, and, given the resulting fear and disrepute of exercising civil rights, our government's ongoing clampdown on them will grow more fascist than ever. And one set of cowardly collaborators in all this will walk off scot-free, with perhaps only their consciences to trouble them. I refer here to the only actors provably capable of stopping Obama's approval of the criminal pipeline: the Democratic members of Congress. Because of their sniveling fear of even mentioning climate, and also their dread of taking on the military-industrial-surveillance complex, they will prove the frightened regime-enabling collaborators who failed to stop both the climate-destroying pipeline and the fascism it will inevitably bring. That's exactly why I've decided--in a coinage I hope will catch on with climate and pipeline activists--to brand them "Vichy Democrats."
It's only by shaming Congressional Vichy Democrats--cowardly enablers of the crime-against-humanity pipeline and the inevitable fascist repression it will bring--that we have any prayer of them pressuring Obama to reject the XL pipeline. To my knowledge, only one Congressional Democrat, Arizona's Rep. Raul Grijalva, has taken courageous practical action against the pipeline and merits escaping the eternal stigma of being a "Vichy Democrat."
Let's relentlessly query all others whether they intend to sit silent as Obama approves the climate-destroying pipeline, and then oversees the inevitable fascist crackdown his approval will entail. Impress on them that this isn't only a climate and environment, but an urgent civil-rights issue. And if it will help make your case, please feel free to send them this article.