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Assholes and Angels in Our Midst

by Anarchist Friday, Nov. 07, 2003 at 12:22 AM

Adventures in Meeting the Enemy

Assholes and Angels in Our Midst:
Adventures in Meeting the Enemy

Author: Stephen DeVoy
November 6, 2003

Six months ago I decided to take my website's message to the street - literally.  Many readers and friends had mentioned to me that the web is not sufficient for reaching the general population.  It was also stated that it takes little courage to run a website (I disagree).  I had set my goal at contributing to the dethroning of Bush and I was willing to do whatever I needed to in order to take my message to a wider audience.  After thinking about techniques for bringing the message to the people, I settled on the bumper sticker as a means of meme propagation.  Corporate media may own the airwaves and the presses, but they don't own our bumpers.  Along the way, I've had some adventures.  Nearly all of my experiences have been positive, but the negative experiences speak legions about the nature of Bush support.  This article focuses primarily on the negative experiences.  For each negative experience mentioned here, I've had at least ten or more positive experiences where opponents of Bush have been kind and generous.

I created my first bumper stickers at home using bumper sticker paper, a printer, a clear spray paint, and a cutting tool.  The process takes some time and is not highly efficient.  However, it has the virtue requiring minimal production equipment and can be conducted from start to finish by a single individual.

After creating my first set of bumper stickers, I faced the problem of distributing them.  It seemed to reason that bumper stickers are literature.  Yes, they carry small statements, but making a statement in print is the only function of a bumper sticker.  It has no other practical use.  Since bumper stickers are literature, I reasoned, their distribution must be covered by the First Amendment.  This, I thought, must be true even more so when applied to political speech.  With this observation on my mind, I did some research and discovered that cities and towns always fail to win court cases where permits are required for the distribution of political literature, even when provided in exchange for donations.  For speech, the First Amendment is a permit for all to distribute literature everywhere within the U.S.  Thus, my impression was that I could display and distribute bumper stickers on public property without a permit in exchange for donations.  The donations could be used to fund my website and to fund the bumper sticker production process, thereby creating a self funding mechanism for the creation and distribution of propaganda.  It worked.

I purchased a small table, small chair, and a plastic letter sorter.  On one weekday morning I took the subway system to Park Street in Boston, set up my table and chair in the Boston Common, and sat.  Nearby, Food Not Bombs was distributing food, another individual was distributing newspapers, and someone else was vending T-shirts.  After about an hour, a man walked up, looked at the stickers, smiled widely, and donated a few dollars for two of them.  Shortly thereafter, another man stood in front of me, looked at the stickers, and made an angry face.  He began hyperventilating.  He was a middle-aged white guy.  Perhaps the bold "Fuck Bush" bumper sticker with the inverted American Flag was a little beyond his expectations.  After all, it was June of 2003 and nearly all Americans were silently and sheepishly biting their tongues.  The disturbed man left, walking about in different directions, looking for someone.  After a few minutes I forgot about him.

Suddenly, an MDC police SUV pulled up.  A police officer emerged, walked straight towards me, looked at the bumper stickers, and asked me if I had a permit to sell them.  I replied that the First Amendment is my permit and that the city cannot require me to have a permit to distribute literature and accept donations.  He asked me if I wanted to be arrested.  I told him, "Well, of course I do not wish to be arrested and I will comply with your request should you ask me to leave, but I want you to know that this will not be the end of the story.  It is my Constitutional right to do what I am doing and I will pursue it in court should it become necessary."  The officer looked angry and threatened again to arrest me.  I asked him for his name and badge number.  At this point he calmed down and just said, "please go."

My first attempt to distribute bumper stickers in Boston Common.  Note the small collection and the modest operation.

Close up of my set up that offended the RepubliNazis.

Food Not Bombs, another anarchist operation, running simultaneously and physically close to my own operation.

MDC Pig SUV

MDC Pig's Ass

MDC Pig Seeking Donuts?

With plans of calling the ACLU swimming in my head, I decided that I would not throw in the towel for the day.  If MDC cops are insufficiently intelligent to understand our Constitutional rights, that was no reason to believe that Cambridge police would be equally as stupid.  I packed up my stuff, took several pictures of the cop, and reentered the subway.  I took the Red Line to Harvard Square, found a spot in the pit, set up my table and chair, and continued anew.  While sitting there, I pulled out my cell phone, called the Cambridge Police Department, and asked them whether I needed a permit to distribute bumper stickers and accept donations in Harvard Square.  An intelligent sounding individual told me that he believed that it was covered by the First Amendment but that he would prefer to transfer me to the city's licensing board.  Upon transferring me, a woman with a competent sounding voice responded that I do not need a permit.  My activities would be legal.

With that reply, I made a sign and placed it in front of my table.  The sign read, "anti-fascist bumper stickers."  Within minutes a young man from the Cambridge Arts Council approached and asked me if I had a permit.  I informed him that I had just telephoned the police and the licensing board and that both verified that I had the right to do what I was doing without a permit.  He smiled and told me that he would check it out.  He did not attempt to stop me in the meantime.  The difference between Cambridge and Boston was vast though the distance was a mere four subway stops.

Hoping to avoid more contact with the Arts Council guy, I moved my table down the street about 1/2 block and set it up in font of a bank on the shady side of the sidewalk, right next to the building.  Instantly pedestrians began stopping.  They loved the stickers.  Within two hours I had distributed all of them and took in enough donations to make nearly twice as many for my next visit to the city.  During these two hours, however, a Harvard University Police Officer approached and told me that I could not distribute my literature there.  I informed him that the Cambridge Police and the Licensing Board verified that it was legal.  The cop looked at me, smiled, and said, "Look, I like your bumper stickers and I don't like Bush.  However, the building you are in front of is on Harvard land and there as an easement of about two yards in front of the building.  If you move beyond two yards, I will have no problem with you distributing your bumper stickers, but you will be in the middle of the side walk and you need a permit for blocking the sidewalk.  However, if you move to the edge of the sidewalk just next to the street, I think you will be legal."

This was a vast improvement!  A cop was helping me to position myself to distribute bumper stickers without getting in legal trouble!  I moved to his suggested location and the day went very well.  I even made a few friends, both within the Harvard community and within the homeless community.

After going home, I purchased more bumper sticker paper, ink for my printer, and clear spray paint.  I made more of each of the stickers.  I also put them on my car to be sure that they would hold up to the elements.  My garage became my print shop and my car became my test bed.  As time passed, I improved the process.  I also used the money I took in to purchase better software for designing bumper stickers.

My third visit to the same location in Harvard Square coincided with the week of a College Republicans conference in Boston.  Things turned hostile that week.  The first hostile incident began with a young white man, about twenty eight years of age, with a crew cut and black hair.  He stood in front of me, while others were looking at my bumper stickers, and with an angry look stated, "You are pathetic."  I ignored him at first, but he he kept repeating himself.  I was sitting on a low chair in front of a low table.  He was standing.  From his perspective I must have looked small, but I am not small.  I looked up and asked, "Why do you think this is pathetic?"  He asked, "You hate George Bush, don't you?"  I responded, "Yes, I do hate George Bush.  Tell me why I shouldn't hate George Bush."

The brownshirt looked like he was about to explode.  He yelled, "You have no right to hate George Bush.  He's our leader!   I fought in the first Gulf War and those Iraqis are worthless shits.  They deserve to die."

I ignored him once again as more people were crowding around reading my bumper stickers.  They had heard him and seemed to be crowding around in an effort to stand by me.  Several of them responded to his words by asking for a large number of bumper stickers and providing a nice donation.  The brownshirt backed off a few yards and watched.  Seeing people accepting my stickers and donating made him furious.  However, like most brownshirts, he was a coward.  So long as many witnesses were around, he would do nothing.  He continued to back off and I lost track of him.  The crowd dissipated and I was once again alone.  Suddenly, while I was looking in another direction, he came running up and kicked my table in the air.  Bumper stickers flew everywhere.  I had been sitting for a few hours and my legs were cramped.  I tried to spring to my feet but it took a few seconds as they were numb from sitting so long.  Once upon my feet, I ran after him.  While I was running after him, pedestrians began picking up my stickers and table and repairing the damage he had done.  I didn't even know these people, but I was impressed.  Upon catching up to him he turned towards me.  I made a fist was intent upon leveling him when he said, "Go ahead, I'd like to see you get arrested."  I thought about it for a few seconds and realized that that was exactly what would happen.  These cowardly brownshirts break the law and violate the rights of others and then run to the cops for protection.  I returned to my table and continued.

About an hour later a water balloon was thrown at me from the direction of the street to which my back was turned.  Two people were looking at the stickers, talking to me when it happed.  They couldn't believe their eyes.  This was Cambridge.  Such behavior is not a normal response to dissent in Cambridge.  However, as I would discover over time, the universe seemed intent upon assisting me with my activities.  The water balloon, though traveling at great velocity, merely bounced on the sidewalk a few times, came to a stop, and then someone walking by jumped on it, letting it harmlessly pop beneath his feet.  No damage was done.

Next passed an older man well known in Cambridge for his Republican political activities.  Let's just call him by his first name, "Vince."  Vince stood in front of me, looked down at my table, shook his head, called me a traitor, and left.  Each time I came out to the square, for the next several weeks, Vince would repeat this ritual.  Sometimes he would be more insulting.  I would reply by calling him a fascist.  The antipathy grew.

Two days later I set up in the same spot again.  A man walked up, read my bumper stickers, called them "uncreative and stupid" and told me that I would be killed soon.  He told me to watch my back as I would never know when he'd show up.  Shortly thereafter a tall white guy with a rather stupid looking face left Au Bon Paine, came over to my table, and called me a terrorist.  As usual, I attempted to ignore him but he would not go away.  Fortunately, a woman was looking at my stickers at the time.  When she saw that he was hostile, she decided to stay in order to discourage him from violence.  She was from Portugal.  I've noticed that women are braver than men.  On several occasions it is women that stayed and helped when violent brownshirts approached.  Women have also been more frequent purchasers of bold bumper stickers than men have.

As if they were all pumped out of the same "Stepford Bush-Hole" factory (which seems to be Fox News), this brownshirt immediately asked if I hated George Bush.  "Yes," I relied.  "I do hate George Bush."  He told me that I had no right to criticize the commander-in-chief.  As if he were the ghost of the previous violent brownshirt, he stated, "He is our leader."  Having heard this again, I just had to say something.  I told him that the German word "Fuhrer" means leader and that his reaction is the same that I would expect should I be doing the same thing in Nazi Germany, only with anti-Hitler bumper stickers.  He said, "Yes, you are right.  The Germans should have supported Hitler since he was their leader and you should support Bush for the same reason."  The obvious absurdity of this statement struck me.  Perhaps there is no difference between supporters of Bush and supporters of Hitler, in any meaningful sense.  He continued, "Bush is defending your freedom."  To this I asked, "What freedom of mine is he defending and how?"  He was tongue tied.  I repeated the question.  He responded that, "Saddam was going to hit us with weapons of mass destruction."  I pointed out that no weapons of mass destruction had been found and that Bush had lied.  He stated that they would be found (this was back in June, it is now November and no such weapons have been found).

The brownshirt decided to take another tact.  He said, "You should love Bush.  He gives you your freedom.  Saddam would never permit you to do this in Iraq."  I laughed and told him that Saddam would have been quite happy to see me distributing anti-Bush bumper stickers in Iraq.  He said, "You know what I mean!"  I replied, "Yes, but Bush doesn't 'give' me my freedom.  Bush has done nothing but attempt to take away my freedom.  My right to free speech is inalienable.  It exists as part of my nature.  No President can give me a part of myself.  Bush does NOT give me the right to free speech!"

Since that didn't work, he decided to try something else.  He looked down at me in my chair and said, "You are lucky to be an American.  There you sit on that chair on this street in front of that table!  You are lucky!"  Once again, I laughed, "OK, this chair costs .99.  The table costs .99.  I purchased them.  American did not purchase them.  The street is dirty and I am currently unemployed.  What do you mean that I am lucky to be an American?  After all, if I were lucky to be an American there would be no need for me to come here and oppose Bush.  America would be in great shape.  The fact is that America is not in great shape."

The brownshirt, once again, called me a traitor.  The Portuguese woman attempted to argue with him.  He asked her if she was a foreigner.  She replied, "Yes."  He said, "if America sucks, what are you doing here?"  I told him that plenty of countries suck and I've visited them.  Why should America be any different.  He was losing the argument.  A crowd was forming and people were smirking at him.  He began to back off.  As he left he screamed, "Terrorist!"

The Arts Council guy walked by and told me that he had called the police earlier regarding whether or not I needed a permit and that they stated that I did not need a permit.  It was getting late so I decided to return home.

Meanwhile, an individual posted anonymously on Boston IndyMedia a call for all anti-Authoritarians to gather in Harvard Square on July 25th for a "be-in."  The idea was to come and do whatever you pleased.  People were encourage to express their dissent over the war.  I decided that I would show up for the event.

In early July I came out to Harvard Square on a Wednesday in the afternoon, set up my table, and began distributing bumper stickers.  Vince passed by, shook his head, and left.  He went into a building.  Within minutes a cop came, took out a ticket book, and asked me for a permit.  I told him that the First Amendment is my permit and that I had already cleared my operation with the police department, the city's licensing board, and the Arts Council.  He asked me for the names of the individuals at the police department that had talked with me.  I told him, truthfully, that I did not write them down.  He told me to leave or I would be arrested.  I decided to leave but to follow up on this one.  I had not followed up on the Boston Common incident merely because I found another venue and was satisfied with it.  However, I had no intention of looking for another venue when I knew for sure that what I was doing was legal.  I packed up, took the train home and then called the Cambridge Police Department.  I explained the situation to the dispatcher.  He told me that we would put me on hold and then hung up on me.  I called him again, one minute later and repeated my request.  Once again, he put me on hold only this time no one answered.  I called again, informed him that he could either speak to me or to my lawyer.  He connected me to the officer in charge of the current shift of all officers in Harvard Square.  This officer knew immediately what officer had made me leave and what the issue was.  He informed me that I was within my rights and that he would speak to the officer.  He informed me that it would be wise for me not to use a table as their were laws regarding the placement of structures such as tables that could be enforced.  While I doubt that those laws were intended to apply to small, foldable, cloth tables used for literature distribution, I agreed to change my mode of presentation.  The officer gave me his name and told me that if the cop showed up again, I could call him.

Rather than using a table, I decided to stick my bumper stickers on sheets of Plexiglas and display them by leaning them against a wall.  This had the disadvantage that people could not touch the stickers until they selected one.  People like to feel the things they acquire.  It slowed down my distribution process by about 33%, but it did not stop my distribution process.  It had the advantage of being easier to set up and resistance to rain.  This change made me more independent of the weather, so it had some positive effects.  Rather than sitting in a chair behind a table, I was now standing next to a wall with a row of Plexiglas sheets, each bearing about five bumper stickers.  Since I had been at it for a while, people knew to look for me.  The change did not harm my operation excessively.  It had another, unexpected benefit.  Standing made it obvious that I was not small.  Brownshirts are cowards.  When I stood up, fewer Bush-lovers harassed me.

The first week that I set up the Plexiglas was disappointing.  It was easier to not notice that I was there.  Many people just wandered by without looking.  I came to the conclusion that it was not worth my time to do this alone.  When alone, it was difficult to see the displays and when alone the police were more likely to attempt to run me off.  In fact, this happened one more time.  Another officer tried the same trick.  I told him the name of his boss and that his boss had indicated that I do have the right to do this.  He said he'd be back.  He never came back.

On July 25th we had our "be-in."  Several small groups and various individuals showed up.  A black-masked anarchist group showed up, huddled behind a sheet reading "Class War" and then left for a party.  We never saw them again.  Some people came and asked where the protest was.  We told them it was not a protest, it was a "be-in."  The idea was to do whatever you wanted to and that dissent was encouraged.  Some people were disappointed.  They expected leaders to be there telling them what to do.  However, about half of the attendees understood the concept and embraced it.  Among these were myself and a few individuals that would become the core of an ongoing movement to continue this form of dissent.

The most hilarious and effective individual to show us was Nick.  Nick had a large, actual size cut-out, of George Bush holding a sign that read "Will Kill 4 Oil."  I knew I had seen Nick before, but it took some time to remember exactly when and where.  Nick had once mistaken me for a cop at a demonstration.  He photographed me.  When I confronted him about it, he explained that he thought I was a cop.  I told him who I was and that I owned the Stop Fascism! website.  He recognized my name and the name of the website.  I showed him my drivers license to prove that I was who I said I was.  I also took a photo of him just in case he tried to publish mine.  We parted on good terms.  Now we were working together in Harvard Square in public dissent.

Another highly effective individual, Gustavo, showed up.  He had an American flag and was asking people to be patriotic and sign up for the war in Iraq.  In the course of the day, no one volunteered.  There were many others too.  Together we made a motley crew of dissents.  We were amusing and people enjoyed it.  My bumper stickers complemented the operation and provided a means of future funding for placard paper and markers that we would make available to all that would choose to join us.  It also financed the printing of propaganda and psyops stickers (small stickers handed out to individuals for the purpose of spreading anti-Regime messages).

At the end of the first "be-in," we decided to begin a weekly occupation of Harvard Square open to all dissidents.  Our goal has been (and continues to be) an eclectic display of disorganized dissent.  During the course of every Saturday, many people stop by and join us.  Some join us briefly.  Some return on subsequent weeks.  Our "group" consists of individualist anarchists, liberals, socialists, communists, and an occasional green.  However, we continue to be open to everyone.

As my own contribution changed from passive distributor of bumper stickers to active participant in aggressive dissent, the nature of my interactions with the people of Harvard Square evolved.  Having more dissenters present reduced the frequency of harassment by brownshirts.  Brownshirts are, by nature, cowards.  Anyone that devotes him or herself to a leader and takes the "safe path" of active support of the regime lacks individual initiative and seeks the protection of the regime as a child in a kindergarten seeks the approval and attention of his or her kindergarten teacher.  Brownshirts are losers to the core.  They dare not physically attack groups of individuals that outnumber them.  Of course, this does not stop them from being hostile, it just modifies their mode of hostility.

During the second week of the occupation, Vince came by.  The growing movement of Bush bashing dissidents seemed to disturb him greatly.  He began yelling at one of us stating that what we were doing was illegal.  Of course, Vince was wrong.  In his mind, any dissent should be illegal, but, in fact, it is not illegal.  I find it absurd that I even need to state this, however things are not as they were in America.  On this particular day, Vince seemed determined to stop us.  He yelled at me as well and then went storming through the square, shouting something at the members of the Revolutionary Communist Party engaged in distributing Revolutionary Worker.  Vince was losing his battle.  Shortly thereafter another cop showed up.  This time it was the same cop that caused me to call the Cambridge Police.  He demanded, once again, a permit.  I informed him that following the previous encounter, I had contacted his boss.  I pulled his boss' telephone number and name out of my bag.  He backed off.  It is my belief that Vince (the Republican politician) has been sending the police to harass us.

Republican antics morphed into "drive by shootings" of the mouth.  The typical Republican reaction was to walk by quickly, turn their heads slightly towards us just after passing, followed by shouts of, "Losers," or "Traitors," or "Saddam Lovers," or "Get a real job..."  They always walked away quickly, trying to melt back into the crowd.  The wall behind me is the entrance way into a train station.  From about the waste up, the wall is glass.  As these Republicans descended into the station they would knock on the glass.  As I turned around they'd give me the finger and disappear quickly into the station.  This is typically Republican cowardice.  The funny thing is that they fail to understand something very important.  I actually want to piss them off.  Next to seeing the bright smile of a Bush supporter happy to revel in dissent, the next best high I enjoy is seeing a pissed off Republican give me the finger.  I have always considered it a salute of respect when it comes from an enemy.

The next week even the Republicans and their police agents seemed to resign themselves to the fact that we were there to stay.  Harassment became almost nil.  More and more news about the fact that Bush had lied began appearing on the media.  Even some Republicans gave us words of support.  Our primary focus was Bush bashing and shaming Americans for supporting the war.  Nick, however, showed some major initiative and began focusing on Republican bashing.  This was a generalization of our technique.  The problem was expanded from their leader, George Hilter Bush, to their followers - the Republicans in the street.  At first I was a little uncomfortable with this, but as I thought about it, I could see Nick's brilliant move for what it was - role reversal.  We all came to embrace this technique and the technique evolved.

Nick would stand on a small wall above the foot traffic and declare that Republicans are unpatriotic, anti-American, war mongers.  I joined in by creating a sign "Republicans: The Other White Meat."  Most non-Republicans loved our new tact.  They would laugh and applaud as they passed.  Occasionally, we'd see them looking at one of their friends.  Their friend would usually have a read face.  It was clear that he or she was the token Republican in their group.  For the most part we got "thumbs up."  However, Republicans were not amused.  Many of them were obviously angry.  Of course, we enjoyed the fact that they were pissed off.  After all, we'd been putting up with their shit since 9/11 and we'd had enough of it.  We decided to make Republican bashing our new theme, at least for the time being.  New signs went up: "How do you know that your Republican neighbor is not a terrorist?"  "Cook Republican well to avoid Mad Cowboy disease."  "Deport Republicans before they deport you."  "Better dead than Republican!"  The angrier the Republicans got, the more amused we were.

Now, this is not a common protest technique.  Most protestors are concerned about media coverage, their image, and being politically correct.  The thought of being politically correct never crossed our minds.  We were there to run a psyops project, not to make friends.  As for the media, we've ignored the media.  The corporate media is not our friend.  The corporate media always distorts reality to serve the fascist state.  We decided that at least in Harvard Square every Saturday, WE were the media.  Our image has not been important to us as well.  In fact, we've played with that as an issue.  Alternatively we have held up signs telling people to grow their hair and smoke dope.  No, we don't support drugs, but we do support rebellion and individual sovereignty.  The point of making such a statement is the act of making the statement.  Being free means being free to say whatever we choose.  The more we push our liberties, the more liberties we have.

In time we began to generalize the reverse psychology theme of our project.  While Republican bashing is still our current major theme, we've also been demanding that "Whitey go back to Europe!"  "Gringos out of North America!" and other such themes.  Coming from a group whose members include many white males, this looks rather hilarious.  Nearly all of the people passing by comprehend what we are doing - reverse psychology.  However, that does not prevent some from pontificating to us.

One older white woman stopped by and asked me furiously, "Do you really think you're doing any good with that sign?"  Now, before you take her seriously, this woman was like a misplaced punctuation mark in a sentence.  She didn't quite fit in.  There were probably one hundred "thumbs up" before she began her diatribe.  Obviously, we were doing some good.  I replied that I did think we were doing good.  I explained that it was a psyops project and that we were using reverse psychology.  She puffed her chest out and said, "Well, I'm a clinical Psychologist."  My first thought was, "Gee, you must save a lot of money on counseling," but I bit my tongue and didn't insult her.  I told her that for every irate person such as herself, there were hundreds more that either understood what we were doing or even agreed with what we were doing.  "Well, it won't work!" she protested.  "Are you sure you're not just hoping that it won't work," I enquired?  "You won't convert anyone doing that," she said.  "Ah, but we'll encourage others to be bolder in speaking out, won't we?" I answered.  She shook her head and hobbled off.

One woman passed by, pointed at herself, and stated emphatically (with stress on the word "I"), "I am a Republican!"  My reply was that she was a very attractive Republican.  She smiled.  The point is, you can bash in such a way that people know that it is being done for its psychological effect.  This makes them think.

One group of individuals that have been especially pesky are Russian immigrants living in Cambridge.  Some have been supportive of us, but quite a few have been very hostile.  One man stands out strongly.  He was a Russian of about the same age as myself.  He told me that we were spoiled brats.  "If we had been living in Soviet Russia," he shouted, "we would be shot."  I've heard similar arguments from other immigrants that have come from oppressive regimes, so this did not surprise me.  I asked him of what relevance Soviet Russia was to the question of my right to dissent freely in the United States.  His argument centered on the notion that since there are places in the world less free than the United States, even under Bush, we should shut up and be happy.  I work with many Poles and most of them have been very supportive of my activities.  Poland, like Soviet Russia, passed through many years under a Stalinist regime.  However, Poland's history is very different from that of Russia.  Before Poland became a Soviet Satellite, it was occupied by Nazi Germany.  Before the Nazi occupation, Poland was a democratic republic.  Poles had had their freedom and lost it, first brutally to the Nazis and later to the Soviets.  Poles knew what it was to have freedom and then lose that freedom.  The experience of Russia is very different.  Russia transitioned very quickly (in a matter of a few years) between being a brutal Monarchist state to a brutal Leninist and later Stalinist state.  Russians, currently, enjoy far more freedom than they had under the Soviet system.  The Russian experience has gone from absolute despotism, to a "people's dictatorship," to a Mafioso system of less than perfect freedom.  In sum, Russians have been gaining freedom, albeit very slowly, without losing freedom.  It is outside of the Russian experience to have our kind of liberty and then lose it.  One does not miss what one never had.  To lose one's liberty is far more painful than to never have it.  This is a concept that this man could not understand.

As he began to lose the argument, he tried to change subjects.  He began attacking me as an individual claiming that I was uneducated.  I pointed out that I had two degrees, one in Computer Science and one in Philosophy.  "You're not a computer scientist!" he said.  "I can prove it!"  He then asked me who Alan Turing was.  When I answered him correctly, he asked, "What is a Turing machine."  When I answered that, he tried to change the subject again.  He was clearly disturbed to be losing the argument on every path so he began shouting.  He then claimed that I was shouting at him, left, and melted into the crowd.  About an hour later he came by again with a bag in his hand.  He pulled out a new pair of sneakers and looked at them proudly.  "This is freedom!" he stated.  My thought was that, "this is freedom to a man that thinks with his feet," but I held it back.

Shortly thereafter, a short white woman with long black hair showed up and informed me that I should be shot.  I asked her why.  She replied that we should not question our leader.  I suggested that she shoot me herself.  She replied that she just might.

At around 9:30 PM I was the last one left.  Two guys came up to me and started talking to me as if they knew me.  The strange thing is that they didn't know me.  A homeless friend of mine showed up and stood next to me.  One of the two guys in front of me told him to leave.  He refused.  He stated that I was his friend and that he was not going away.  To my side another guy showed up with a bicycle.  It was clear that the three were coordinating something.  The two guys in front of me told my friend to leave, once again.  I told them that he didn't have to leave and that he was welcome to stay.  The two looked at each other and then began to walk away and watch from a distance.  The guy on the bicycle backed off as well.  My friend Mike looked at me and said, "I've been on the street a long time, this is a hit or a robbery, you need to pack up quickly and go.  I'll help you."  So we packed up and he walked into the train station with me making sure that I got on the train without harm.

After that experience I decided that I would advise my fellow dissenters to make sure that the last two of us always left at the same time.  These three guys showed up several times, at the end of the day, over the next few weeks.  Each time they showed up, too many people were around.  One time it turned out that I was once again alone.  One of us needed to leave early and I foolishly decided to stay on.  Just as these two guys showed up again, a Jewish woman approached and began asking me about my stickers.  We had a long conversation.  I explained to her that the two guys intended to mug me or something and that I should pack up while she was there.  She told me that she thought something was up.  I think the universe sent her to provide a witness and discourage an attack.  She helped me pack up and leave.

I keep mentioning the universe because many odd things have happened to assist us in our operation.  Luck seems to always have been on our side.  Even some trivially strange things have happened.  For example, I stuck a "Fuck Bush" kitchen magnet on the train station.  It is a very weak magnet.  Despite the rain, the wind, the sun, and the thousands of people passing by and despite the fact that many stickers have been removed and ads removed, the "Fuck Bush" kitchen magnet remains to this day, about two and a half months after it was placed there.  I am an atheist and I don't believe there is a God, but I do believe that we are on the side of good and that the universe, for reasons unknown to me, prefers good over evil.

A short time ago another violent incident took place.  This one started as a threat on a member of the RCP engaged in distributing Revolutionary Worker.  The RCP is not part of our operation.  They have their own operation distributing their newspaper.  However, my own personal experiences with this group has been good and I consider them comrades.  An older white man with a veterans hat walked up to one of the RCP members.  He was holding a very large board with what looked like a nail sticking out of it.  He started calling the RCP guy a "fucking communist" and threatened to "bash his head in."  I came to the aid of the RCP member, asked the man why he was holding up the board, and asked him to leave.  He told me he'd bash both our fucking brains in.  I asked him to go ahead and try it.  He began walking backwards, slowly, away from me.  As he walked away he started calling me a "Japanese Lover."  Perhaps he was involved in WWII.  I don't know.  In any case, I told him that he was correct, I do love the Japanese.  He continued walking down the street shouting.  A few days later a homeless friend told me that he was attacked by that same man.  The man, still wearing the veterans hat, pulled out a knife and slashed his leg while he was lying on a sidewalk.  A woman came to his aid.  The man slashed her arm.  He was arrested and released.

There was another attempt by brownshirts to use the police to shut us down.  A young white male accompanied by two females began haranguing us.  The two females distanced themselves from him.  He told me and the anarchist next to me that if there weren't surveillance cameras everywhere, he'd kick our asses.  I asked him why that was stopping him.  Brownshirts seem to be under the false impression that anyone holding an antiwar sign is a pacifist.  Most anarchists are not pacifists.  I am certainly not a pacifist.  I invited him to attack me.  The other anarchist joined in the invitation, "Go for it," he said.  They guy sheepishly walked away.  A few minutes later one of Vince's friends came by and told me that the police were talking about us.  Ten minutes later a cop stationed himself in front of us and began watching us, talking on a cell phone.  Thirty minutes later five MBTA (train) cops showed up and began tearing our signs down.  We asked why they were doing it and they replied that it was illegal to hang signs on the train station.  We pointed out that there were many other signs on the station, including commercial and "for rent" signs.  They stated that they received a complaint and all of our signs must go.  They told me to take down my bumper stickers too.  However, I later discovered that this was incorrect.  Provided I do not affix the Plexiglas sheets to anything, they are legal.  We asked the Cambridge cop why he had called the MBTA police.  He told me that someone complained.  Dozens of people came to our aid and began shouting at the police.  These were not just protestors.  These were people that just happened to be passing by.  Many of them joined us.  We held up the signs that the police had torn down and many individually held up bumper stickers.  The police could not make us leave, at least not legally.  We stayed.  We also came back and continued our operation each week thereafter.  The same homeless friend that had his leg slashed came up and informed me that he had observed the young white guy that threatened us talking to the police and demanding that they remove our anti-Bush signs.  Once again, Bush supporters are cowards and expect the police to silence dissent.

Recently a man and woman stopped by.  It was late and I was the last one there.  I decided to begin staying late again.  Perhaps I'm too unconcerned about myself, but I have a deep feeling that I should put everything I can into this cause.  The woman asked me if I were an anarchist.  I answered affirmatively.  "Anarchism will never work," she stated.  "I could just drop you right here and now, if there were no police."  I found this an odd statement.  Remembering that I was alone and that the man could be her witness, I decided not to use my standard response.  Rather than saying, "well, why don't you try it," I figured that it might be a set up and she would claim that I threatened her rather than the other way around.  I pointed out to her that in an anarchist society she could attempt to attack me but that the consequences of doing so would outweigh the benefit and that in a society where she could not go to the police for protection she would need to think carefully about the eventual consequences of such acts.  For example, there would be nothing to prevent me or others allied with me from seeking retribution at a later place and time, others would look down on her for her behavior, and without a good reputation she might find survival in an anarchist world difficult.  The man chimed in claiming that I'm not an anarchist and that I'm just trying to make money.  I pointed out that there are much easier ways of making money.  He asked what I would do if someone handed me six million dollars, would I take it?  "Of course I would," I explained.  I could do a lot of good with six million dollars.  "Oh, so you'd just give it away?" he asked.  As I was attempting to explain to him that I would use the money to set up a self financing operation that would continuously effect social change thereby benefiting people more than simply giving away six million would, he interrupted me after the word, "No" and claimed that I was just a capitalist.  The interesting thing to me is not the confrontation.  The interesting thing is the underlying assumption set.  Here are the assumptions.  (1) People are evil and will attack others unless there is something to stop them.  (2) People only engage in activities where money is exchanged in order to enrich themselves.  Clearly, neither of these assumptions must be true.  However, what is interesting is the way these assumptions parallel the assumptions of other fascists.

Having discussed the reaction of Republicans, I thought it would be educational to include some information about the reactions of other fascists.  My point in describing the following incidents is that the New Republicans are, in fact, fascist.  Their techniques are the same as other fascists and their reasoning is the same.

A Zionist came up to me and told me he hated Bush too.  I explained to him that I was very angry at the slaughter of Iraqis for Bush's profit.  The man looked at me as if I were from another planet and said, "I hope he does kill all the Arabs.  It's not the issue of killing Arabs that bothers me, it's the effect on the economy.  The economy is terrible."  The assumption here is that it is OK to murder provided you are well paid.

A pair of Zionists came up to me and told me that they found my allusions to an association between Bush and Nazis offensive.  More specifically, they told me that "as Jews we find your use of the Nazi theme offensive."  In question were two bumper stickers.  One had Bush dressed up like Hitler with the statement, "Impeach the Punk Ass Dictator."  The other had Bush in front of a Nazi flag with the statement, "Ein Volk.  Ein Reich.  Ein Idiot" (One people, one regime, one idiot.)  I told them that as an American I did not find the use of the Nazi theme in disparaging Bush to be offensive.  What I did find offensive was the notion that one people owned World War II and could use it exclusively as their property, despite the fact that 10 million Russians, millions of Poles, and millions of others died at Hitler's hands.  Yes, Hitler was a monster and the Genocide against the Jews might be one of the greatest crimes of genocide in human history, but that it was a crime against human

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