Wednesday, May 19, 2010

An open letter to all bank-bombing anarchists who claim to be acting on behalf of Native Rights.

Dear Bank-bombing Anarchists,

I really appreciate that you are probably young, frustrated and appalled by a number of injustices in the world. I am too. I know I mostly blog about Indigenous stuff, but I get pretty outraged about homophobia, bigotry, environmental degradation, slave labour in the textile industry, and my son’s math teacher who was not especially helpful today. And that’s only my Wednesday rant. But I like to hone in on one issue when I write, and today, you are my issue.

So, I saw that video where you fire-bomb a bank in the Glebe and I read the message at the end about stolen native land and the Olympics. It’s true that First Nations people hate people taking our stuff without asking, especially land, and especially when its not returned promptly or in the same good condition we left it in. But the Olympics? Most First Nations loved the Olympics. We had all those youth torch-bearers, APTN broadcast segments in Cree and Ojibwa. The Four Host First Nations were happy about everything. And FYI a large majority of those protestors who advocated “No Olympics on Stolen Native land” were non-native folk who weren’t listening very well to what most of us wanted. Frankly, I felt a little exploited by that whole protest thing.

Also...most of our stolen land has nothing to do with the Olympics. Most stolen land is not in even in Vancouver or BC.

So I think your communications plan could use a little tweaking on those key messages. But the bigger problem I see is with your implementation plan.

First: blowing up banks doesn't get our land back. So your actions are not reaching the objectives you've set. See the logic problem? But there's more. You're being a little counter-productive. Let me explain.

Indigenous people in Canada have a lot of issues that we really need to cope with: child welfare, education, water, health care access, housing, citizenship, and yes land claims.

It’s very hard for us to work these issues out with Canadians because most Canadians know so little about the bizarre legal framework that the Indian Act imposes upon us or much about our history and how we got in the mess we are in today. First Nations issues are not taught well in school, nor covered well in the media. Fortunately most Canadians are very nice people, who are concerned about social justice issues, and they do their best to understand and even pitch in to help when they can.

(Naturally there are also some truly hateful people out there – the homophobic, racist chemical-dumpers who shop at Walmart and – whom I strongly suspect – teach Math at my son’s school. But they are a minority.)

Which brings us to my point: you are not helping. Fire-bombing banks is inconvenient, a little scary and turns people off. Then when you upload a video bragging about the bombing and talking smack about the Olympics and native land.. Well people assume we did it. Suddenly people who felt kindly toward us are too nervous and angry to work with us anymore.

So I think you shouldn’t bomb things anymore. That’s my advice. And stop the whole native Olympic land thing. It’s inaccurate and you know, if we have something to say, we’re usually pretty good at speaking up for ourselves.

(PS. Your video also mentioned something about other RBCs? Please spare one in downtown Ottawa and one in Toronto. I travel back and forth a lot, and I get charged something like a buck fifty if I use another bank’s ATM.)



Anonymous said...

And to add to that excellent post......

A word from an anarchist to all people claiming to be anarchists who bomb banks (or break windows at McDonalds during protests for that matter) -- you're giving us a bad name, violence and the destruction of private property as a means to an end are not philosophies that real anarchists hold.

If you think that blowing up banks will in any way, shape, or form, help advance the cause of reducing the power of the state over private individuals and their affairs you are sadly mistaken.

In fact your act of destruction has set the goals of all anarchists back considerably.

Find another label - if you're having trouble coming up with one try looking in the dictionary under "T".... for thug.

Ward of the State said...

Hi Stageleft. It's nice to share a moment of stigmitization with you.
I guess none of us want them in our club... Not that anarchists have clubs...

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