Method 23: Destruction of Own Property

Last night, in a magnanimous effort “to make sure that everything is right” during the government shutdown, Trump treated the Clemson Tigers to 300 hundred hamburgers and “many, many french fries.”  According to the WaPo, burgers and chicken nuggets were distributed on platters in the style of servers at an elegant cocktail party. “Another Big Mac, sir? Please, help yourself.” The buffet cost about $3,000.

Due to the 25 day partial government shutdown, the White House catering staff is on furlough, along with about 800,000 federal workers are affected – 420,000 working without pay, according to an estimate last month from the Senate Appropriations Committee

If we followed Method 23 of Gene Sharp’s 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action, the streets would be filled with American hamburgers today.

Tea parties, draft card burning, the destruction of Stalin’s statue during the Hungarian Revolution. During the nonviolent revolution in India, imported cloth was burned to reject dependence on foreign nations. In 1918 and 1919, suffragist members of the Women’s Party publicly burned copies of President Wilson’s speeches to demonstrate that while he spouted promises of democracy and freedom, he did nothing to help women get the right to vote.

Hamburger strike?

That’s “hamberder” in Presidential speak.


 

3.5% Project

About

Publications

Subscribe

“Researchers used to say that no government can survive if just 5% of its population rose up against it, but what the research showed is that no single campaigns failed during the time period after they’d achieved the active sustained participation of just 3.5 percent of the population.” – Erica Chenoweth

Method 22: Protest Disrobings (CONTENT WARNING)

Note: images at the end of this post may be inappropriate for some work environments. 

My senior year in high school, I was given two weeks of detention after playing a song I wrote on the morning radio show. I cued up “Get Naked,” and then I bolted. I spent the rest of the morning getting screamed into a corner by my advisor:

“For the rest of your life, you will be nothing. You are nothing. No matter what you do from here, this is the best you will ever be.”

I didn’t even GET naked, I just used the word because I knew its power in my hometown of Churchville, New York. It was like my own Footloose moment – I was going out with a bang.

Public disrobing is an effective method of nonviolent protest because it gets people’s attention – but it’s only effective if the wobbly bits draw attention to the intended cause. A recent example of this was on Tuesday night, when Stormy Daniels folded her laundry and listened to Taylor Swift in her underwear live on Instagram for 8 minutes. Exactly 8 minutes – the time it took Trump to “formally” advocate for building a 5.7 billion dollar border wall.

The Russian punk art collective Pussy Riot and activists from the Ukranian group Femen (video above) have been leading the charge against Putin’s repressive state since 2008. Femen regularly stages topless protests against sex tourism, homophobia, religious institutions, and underage marriages. In 2012, they protested against voter fraud in the 2012 Russian elections. (ARE YOU READING THIS?) In 2013, members of Femen disrupted the visit of Russian President Putin and Chancellor Merkel at a tech show shouting obscenities, with anti-Putin slogans written on their bodies.

In 2012, two members of Pussy Riot were arrested for singing the punk protest song Putin’s Prayer in Moscow’s main cathedral. They spent two years in a Russian prison for “hooliganism,” something member Nadya Tolokonnikova described was a time of “endless humiliations.”

After their release, the activists pledged to devote their energies to changing the political system in Russia and improving conditions inside its prisons – but they haven’t stopped protesting. In 2018, members of Pussy Riot crashed the World Cup and were arrested for 15 days.

Public disrobing is not new: in the 1800’s, pacifist Ukranian immigrants called the Doukhobors (“spirit wrestlers) staged naked protests when the Canadian government wouldn’t give them the land they were promised, and this continued into the 1970’s.

The annual Running of the Nudes in Pamplona, Spain, protests the cruelty of the centuries-old tradition of the running of the bulls. PETA’s “Lettuce Ladies” dress in lettuce bikinis and hand out flyers about veganism. Breasts Not Bombs, Naked for Peace, Bare Warning – all protests against war.

Women in Uganda have protested naked because their farming land is under threat of being acquired by the government as a game reserve. For the Acholi people of northern Uganda, a woman stripping in public is more powerful than fighting because it’s believed that these actions bring worst of curses on the woman’s enemy.

Today’s Action Item: #ballstothewall 

Today is Day 22 of the government shutdown. Drop’em, guys. See what you can do about this shutdown. If it goes viral, please send cash.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“We believe that if women are left with little more than satisfying sexual desires as a life purpose, then our sexuality must become politicised. We are not denying our potential to be treated as sex objects. On the contrary, we are taking our sexuality into our own hands, turning it against our enemy. We are transforming female sexual subordination into aggression, and thereby starting the real war.” – Inna Shevchenko, Femen, for The Guardian

3.5% Project

About

Publications

Subscribe

Method 21: Delivering Symbolic Objects

When Nancy Pelosi was reelected as Speaker of the House for the second time last Thursday, her return to power was symbolized by a return of the gavel. Watch the moment here:

The delivering of symbolic objects is a favorite method of peaceful protest, and has been used throughout history as a way to send a message to those in authority that they’re not backing down. The French are famous for this – farmers are fond of delivering fresh manure and rotten vegetables to government offices to protest depressed wages or overburdensome taxes. When Chicago’s rat problem overwhelmed the city, a housing improvement program piled dead rats against the mayor’s door.

frenchmanure

There are risks to this kind of protest – they can contribute to increased animosity between groups – but the message gets across.

On Valentine’s Day in 2017, “Readers are Leaders” hosted the event “Bury the White House in Books on Valentine’s Day,” encouraging people to send books they thought Trump could stand to read. Some suggestions:

  • Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson
  • Animal Farm, by George Orwell
  • The Art of Power, by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, by Masha Gessen
  • The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss: A children’s tale about the environment
  • Night, by Elie Wiesel: An iconic account from a Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate
  • The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair: A piece of investigative journalism that explores the conditions and treatment of poor factory workers
  • Somebody Loves you, Mr. Hatch, by Eileen Spinelli, a children’s tale about the power of kindness

What book would you send Trump?

I know, I know, he doesn’t read – but maybe someone close to him can give him the important points. Let me know if you need the address – I’ll be there on the 19th.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/The+White+House/@38.8976763,-77.0365298,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x715969d86d0b76bf!8m2!3d38.8976763!4d-77.0365298

3.5% Project

About

Publications

Subscribe

 

What’s On My Nightstand: December 2018

Nonfiction/Memoir

Some Bright Morning I’ll Fly Away, by Alice Anderson

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, by Asha Bandele and Patrisse Cullors

Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex, and Politics, by Starhawk

Fiction

Blood and Guts in High School, by Kathy Acker

The Answers: A Novel, by Catherine Lacey

Short Fiction

“Surplus Male,” by Caitlin Bagwell, NUNUM

“Acceptance Journey,” by Mary Gaitskill

“Staring at His Converse Tennis Shoes,” by Anne Gudger, 50-Word Stories

“Two Sisters,” by Ludmilla Petrushkevskaya

“Time for the Eyes to Adjust,” by Lin Ullman

Young Adult Fiction

The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas

Poetry

“Prognosis,” by Meena Alexander

“Arrival at Santos,” by Elizabeth Bishop

“Dinah,” by Sarah Blake

“Saturday,” by Caryl Pagel

“The Sagittarius” and “A Song of Monsoon and Blood Lava,” by Pamela K. Santos

Journal

The Paris Review, No. 227, Winter 2018

Ploughshares Fall 2018

Essay / Interview / OpEd

“Roxane Gay: ‘Public Discourse Rarely Allows for Nuance. And see where that’s gotten us,” by Aida Edemarium, The Guardian

“The Thread: Outside the Gaze,” by Marissa Korbel, The Rumpus

“I Used to Give Men Mercy,” by Therese Mailhot, Guernica

“Why You Should Be One Too?” by Spencer Reed, Granta

Catalogue

Mt. Airy Learning Tree Winter 2019 Course Catalogue

Magazine / Newspaper

Lesbian Connection: free to lesbians worldwide, but the suggested donation is $7/issue (more if you can, less if you can’t), January/February 2019 issue

The New Yorker

The Week

Random

author photo (below), photograph and styling by Gracie, age 5

HURRAW! lipbalm

pomegranate majolica dish

hummingbird Xmas ornament, made by Nicolle

ginger cookies, made by Echo Bodine)

Smith’s Rosebud Salve

lavender bath salts, made by Charlotte

Leigh_by Gracie_Xmas2018

author photo, photograph and styling by Gracie, age 5

About

3.5 % Project

Publications

Postage

Teaching

Method 20: Prayer and Worship

If the words “prayer” and “worship” from Method 20 of 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action give your secular bones a shiver, I get it – it’s hard to walk willingly into a place that tells you you’re wrong. Instead, think of Emma Gonzalez’s 6 minutes at 20 seconds of silence at the podium at the March For Our Lives. Consider the thousands who gather in Hong Kong on June 4 every year in honor of those massacred at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Or the communities across the nation who gathered for a prayer vigil after the violence at the Tree of Life synagogue in October 2018.

I’m a new fan of Sister Susan Francois, a nun at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in Englewood Cliffs who tweets prayers at Trump every day.

SisterSusanFrancois

Finally, I loved this recent NPR interview with Moby, especially when Stephen Kallao described elements of Moby’s latest record, Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt as a kind of prayer. Of his new song, “This Wild Darkness,” Moby said:

“… we’ve found ourselves as these bald, scared monkeys essentially in control of a planet and, looked at with some sense of objectivity, doing everything in our power to destroy the only home that we have.”

The refrain:

Ooh, in this darkness

Please light my way

Light my way

3.5% Project

About

Publications

Subscribe

Method 19: Wearing of Symbols

Step 19 of Gene Sharp’s 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action comes from the list of Symbolic Public Acts. As I covered in Step 18, the resistance has used flags and symbolic colors as a form of protest throughout history.

Pussy hats, peace signs, rainbow flags.

Umbrellas, three finger salutes, hoodies, flowers.

Flowers epitomize peaceful protest. They were offered to soldiers at the Pentagon in 1967 and handed out to demonstrators at the Women’s March in 2017. They were worn by Dr. King, a way of saying, “I will meet your hate with dignity and grace.”

A botanical “When they go low, we go high.”

photo: Michael Jarecki

symbols_threefingers

Protesters against military rule gesture by holding their three middle fingers in the air during a brief demonstration at a shopping mall in Bangkok. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

symbol_umbrella

A protester raises placards that reads “Occupy Central” in a standoff between riot policemen and a sea of protesters and their umbrellas outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014. (Vincent Yu/AP)

symbols_treyvon

Speakers at a gathering in Minneapolis to remember slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin said his death should be a rallying cry for racial justice in the country.

rainbow-flag-banner-big-toulouse

3.5% Project

About

Publications

Subscribe

Method 18 + Ukulele Challenge + #SmockingGun

Today’s post in 3 points:

Ukulele Challenge: On Thursday I posted a new ukulele tune: “Mueller, please hurry up.” People tell me it’s “adorable” and that definitely wasn’t the plan, but whatever – maybe the collective vibe worked, because:

Mueller Investigation: From the Washington Post: “Russians interacted with at least 14 Trump associates during the campaign and transition,” along with this fun graphic. (credit: WashingtonPost) Sh*t’s going DOWN.

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 11.56.23 AM

Step 18 in Gene Sharp’s From Dictatorship to Democracy is “Display of Flags and Symbolic Colors.” Some more examples that we’re not just making this sh*T up:

Since November 17, 125,000 protestors have taken to the streets of Paris wearing the yellow vests required to be carried in every vehicle by French law as a protest to rising diesel costs. Although the movement hasn’t been without violence – windows smashed, cars burned, and shops looted – the movement’s core aim “to highlight the economic frustration and political distrust of poorer working families, still has widespread support.” On Friday, the French retail federation told Reuters that retailers have lost about $1.1 billion since the protests first began on November 17, and that the restaurant trade had declined by between 20% and 50%.

As I covered two weeks ago, sustained, silent, nonviolent protest of just a small group of committed members can make lasting change. Kindergarten teacher Sam Goldman is at the helm of Philadelphia’s “Resist Fascism Philly,” and last weekend I’d planned to pull on a red handmaid cloak and do some caroling until the event was cancelled to protest in another location. Pink pussy hats and red handmaid cloaks make a statement wherever they appear. When I’m wearing my kitty hat in my Philly neighborhood, I get smiles and nods, but on the boardwalk in a conservative county New Jersey? Stares. Silence.

That’s the power of Step 18.

Stay the course.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

3.5% Project

About

Subscribe