Rat bastard

6 01 2009

Brandon Darby is a coward.

Mr. Solidarity-Forever collaborated with the FBI, working as an informant during the Republican National Convention as well as, according to the New York Times, ‘cases not involving the convention. He defended his decision to work with the F.B.I. as “a good moral way to use my time,” saying he wanted to prevent violence during the convention at the Xcel Energy Center.’

Who is Brandon Darby? According to the Times, he’s an organizer from Texas ‘who gained prominence as a member of Common Ground Relief, a group that helped victims of Hurrican Katrina in New Orleans.’ According to those who commented in response to his letter on the Independent Media Center website (first link), he’s likely a long-time snitch, informing on ‘fellow’ activists and radicals for at least a couple of years.

According to Darby himself, ‘Though I’ve made and will no doubt continue to make many mistakes in efforts to better our world, I am satisfied with the efforts in which I have participated. Like many of you, I do my best to act in good conscience and to do what I believe to be most helpful to the world. Though my views on how to give of myself have changed substantially over the years, ultimately the motivations behind my choices remain the same. I strongly stand behind my choices in this matter.’

Darby apparently didn’t like the thought of a good protest, by those of ‘pure intentions’, being ruined by those who ‘used the group as cover for intentions that the rest of the group did not agree with or knew nothing about and are now, consequently, having parts of their lives and their peace of mind uprooted over.’

Translation? He didn’t like violence.

I don’t like violence. Once again, I’m with Arendt in standing for politics and positioning violence as the anti-politics. I’m not a pacifist, but I find it difficult to justify violence in an open society. Whatever the problems of the American polity—and there are many—we have the ability to address those problems politically, not criminally or violently. We (whoever the ‘we’ are at the moment) may not win, but rarely are we finally vanquished. We get to act, and to act some more.

Violence works against such action, works against a notion of a gathering together for public action. It seeks to alienate rather than engage, and to separate us from rather than ally ourselve with one another.

And no, I’m not a procedural or deliberative democratic theorist, either, who thinks if we all just talk to one another long enough we’ll all get along. I’m with the agonistes, who see conflict at the center of politics.

Which is precisely why I’m opposed to both to violence and the shitty, underhanded behavior of the so-called protector of the pure:

It is very dangerous when a few individuals engage in or act on a belief system in which they feel they know the real truth and that all others are ignorant and therefore have no right to meet and express their political views.

Additionally, when people act out of anger and hatred, and then claim that their actions were part of a movement or somehow tied into the struggle for social justice only after being caught, it’s damaging to the efforts of those who do give of themselves to better this world. Many people become activists as a result of discovering that others have distorted history and made heroes and assigned intentions to people who really didn’t act to better the world. The practice of placing noble intentions after the fact on actions which did not have noble motivations has no place in a movement for social justice.

This isn’t even coherent. Is he trying to keep intact the innocence of those who would otherwise defend the actions of violence aggressors? Or perhaps I could offer a psychological explanation, and repeat that last sentence Right back atcha, Brandon!

If politics has no place for violence, it has no place for innocence, either. You want to be a political actor? Stand by your actions. No hiding, no pretending, no I-didn’t-know-any-better. There is conflict, and you’re on one side of that conflict. Why on you on that side? In what do you believe? You want social justice? Then you stand up for it first and foremost on your own side.

There are always hangers-on and trouble-makers at any kind of political gathering. Most of the time they’re only annoying, and some of the time they’re dangerous. Confront them. Stand up for your principles and state that those who would use violence are not, in fact, on your side. Hell, go so far as to say that you’ll treat any and all who’d suggest violence as an agent provocateur, the suggestion itself as prima facie evidence of informant status.

Got that, Brandon? You confront these people publicly, you put yourself forward—you take the risk—with the idea that you will get others to join you. That is politics. It’s not easy, and you will be opposed, but you know what? The conflict will at least occur in the open, and by attempting to draw others in, you have a shot at deepening both politics in general and the commitment to social justice in particular. You take a risk, and you take responsibility, and you invite every other person at that gathering to take the same risks and responsibilities, and give each of them the chance to act.

But no. You had to play Big Daddy Protector, foreclosing the possibilities that your fellow activists could, in fact, take care of themselves and, perhaps, grow politically. You robbed them of their chance to act.

That’s the real shame of your informant activities—that’s what makes you a rat bastard.

As for the rest, well, is it ironic or unsurprising that a man who says it is ‘My sincere hope is that the entire matter results in better understanding for everyone’ ran to the F-fucking-BI! rather than engage in this ‘discussion’ when it mattered. That’s what makes you a coward.