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Indybay Feature

Medea Benjamin Gets Pied At US Social Forum

by Bakers Without Borders
Medea Benjamin Gets Pied at US Social Forum
Bakers without Borders and Co-optation Watch take action today at the US Social Forum to demand accountability from a self-appointed "spokesperson" whose actions further the commodification of resistance and sabotage our movement's sustainability and credibility. This person's actions benefit the NGO Industrial Complex at the expense of real democracy and solidarity.

In particular, we hold Medea Benjamin accountable for:

- Publicly siding with the police and municipal authorities against direct actions performed at the World Trade Organization protests of 1999.

- Administrative authority in an organization that hordes funds raised for community organizations in Guatemala

- Administrative authority in an organization that solicited the economic dependency of residents in Cuba and then abandoned the project, pushing the Cuban participants deeper into poverty.

- Acting as self-appointed spokesperson of the "American Left". One egregious example is publicly refusing to endorse a call by hundreds of Lebanese citizens for Israel to unconditionally withdraw from Southern Lebanon in the 2006 war, claiming that the American Left would not swallow such a demand.

- Exploiting and dominating movement space, resources, and publicity in the global justice and associated movements.
by Bakers Without Borders
by Bakers Without Borders
by Bakers Without Borders
by Bakers Without Borders
by Bakers Without Borders
by Bakers Without Borders
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by paddle happy
thank you for your brave efforts, clear message and clever tactics!!!!!

our dreams will NOT fit into their non-profit industrial complex
make capitalism history...

by You're a bunch of cowards!
You're cowards! at least Medea has the guts to show her face when doing a direct action, you cowards don't even have the guts to show your face.
I don’t think throwing a pie in Medea Benjamin’s face helps to build a stronger movement for peace and social/economic justice. We have to use different tactics and strategies when we have differences of opinions with our friends than the ones we use on our enemies.

How anyone could see this as a positive way to communicate our differences is unclear to me. I suppose, given the logic of the “bakers without borders,” the proper response would be for Medea and her gang to throw rotten tomatoes at someone in their group. That would be productive. NOT!
by crust
"We have to use different tactics and strategies when we have differences of opinions with our friends..."

- Publicly siding with the police and municipal authorities against direct actions performed at the World Trade Organization protests of 1999.
by Red truck on the corner
This is in response to the statement from Bakers Without Borders that Benjamin was a target for "[p]ublicly siding with the police and municipal authorities against direct actions performed at the World Trade Organization protests of 1999." Here is her statement from Z Magazine: "There has been some controversy about a quote from me that appeared in the New York Times Dec. 2. The quotation implied that I was calling for the arrest of those people who destroyed property in downtown Seattle during the WTO protest. I want to make it clear that the quote was distorted, taken out of context, and not reflective my true feelings. I did not call for the arrest of anyone, though I did point out the irony that the police were attacking nonviolent protesters while ignoring those destroying property. Do I wish the people causing the damage had been arrested? No. Would I have helped to get them out of jail if they had been? Yes. And I certainly apologize if the statement attributed to me has caused any harm to the anarchist community in general. Do I approve of the tactics that this particular group of self-described anarchists used in Seattle Nov. 30? Definitely not. That, not the distorted quote, is the real issue here. There are certainly occasions in which the destruction of property furthers the cause of social justice and helps garner public support, but this was not one of them. The Boston Tea Party is an example of the destruction of property a shipment of tea. When the Zapatistas rose up in 1994, they destroyed army posts and other symbols of a repressive state. Members of the religious community in the United States have destroyed weapons of mass destruction to express their profound moral opposition to war. And forest activists have destroyed the engines of bulldozers to prevent the clear-cutting of old-growth forests. "The list of tactically thoughtful and politically principled property destruction goes on and on. What these acts have in common is that they were the result of a long process of working with and gaining the support of the affected community. This was not the case in Seattle."
by Person Person
That was a pointless display of hostility and the logic that backs it up is weak. Media Benjamin is a good person who has done a lot of important work and she deserves respect.

This type of prank appeals more to the Tom Green or Jackass side of us and less to the reasoned critique that is appropriate for the concerns voiced in this article.

Activist strategies such as pieing someone should be reserved for people who have real power: people who directly control state violence, or people with power to insulate themselves from a conversational critique of their methods. The only reason you would pie these people is that you hypothetically have been denied any other opportunities for redress, IE they won't let you talk to them or are stonewalling you. You don't just pie them because it gives you a thrill.

The reason pieing Medea Benjamin is wrong is because she is a person that can be spoken with about any disagreements people might have. She does not have a body guard or police escort and you can walk right up to her and talk to her.

I question the individual who did the pieing, and I wonder if they are affiliated with any legitimate activist group. It seems like a college prank that no one thought too hard about, and just did it because they thought it would be funny. It definitely smacks of immaturity, hostility and a lack of critical thought.

And to the writer of this article: "...placed a pie in the face of Medea Benjamin at the US Social Forum"? Give me a break, this is Indybay. Just say, "She got pied."
by hmm
If the quote is attributed to "media" saying she didn't condemn the direct action folks in seattle, then pie might have been out of context. However, I never knew she had a rebuttal to that quote where she said those who broke things in seattle should be arrested. Until this story was reported and someone posted the comment posting "Media's" rebuttal that the quote was out of context, I spent roughly 7 years disgusted that someone who was a major organizer knowing the cops started the violence in seattle would call for those who broke things to be arrested. Maybe it's time for her to publically clear the air. Besides, the pieing was harmless. Darryl Cherney was pied for being a grumpy SOB, and he took it in good humor. I still think DC's an ass, but that's another matter. Has Darryl done good work, sure, is be an ass, ok, hell no. Point being, don't get all in a tiff the fuzzy liberals quick to condemn this.
by pie high
but here is somemore info from this wonderful article:

"Here we are protecting Nike, McDonald's, The Gap, and all the while I'm thinking, 'Where are the police? These anarchists should have been arrested.'" Thus spoke Medea Benjamin, crusader against corporate tyranny and ubiquitous spokesperson for the non-profit Global Exchange.

And lest you think Benjamin's above comments were a single faux pas, check this out: "...[T]he people who were doing the vandalizing got off scot-free... We prepared so long for this, and we assumed we'd have massive arrests. If the police had just done that, none of this would have happened." One wonders what sentence Judge Benjamin would hand down for these miscreants: six months, a year? Or something more "progressive," like two weeks?

On Tuesday, as demonstrators prevented the opening ceremonies of the WTO from going forward, Benjamin and other "good protesters" formed a human chain -- not around the WTO's meeting place -- but rather around downtown Seattle's NikeTown so as to prevent other protesters from helping themselves to complimentary pairs of Air Jordans.

Then on Wednesday, Benjamin and her cadre again took to the streets of downtown, this time to sweep up broken glass and scrub away spray-painted slogans like "We Win" and "The Writing is On the Wall."
As if that weren't bad enough, the accusations and recriminations from the grassroots guardians of order were replete with unfair and unprincipled misrepresentations. For example, Benjamin claimed the rowdies "who have been the ones who have been orchestrating the violence" were "not part of our movement."

Not true. Many of those who rioted are just as dedicated, and give even more time to the cause of justice, than do the NGO-set. For those who don't know: The brick-throwers are also the tree-sitters and collective organizers, some of whom have literally lived camped-out in the mud and frequently locked-down to trees for years on end. In reality, the well-behaved NGO's and the rock throwers exist on a continuum, part of a single movement.
by I've got beef too
Wonderful action. Thank you!
by Robert B. Livingston (gruaudemais [at]
It is sad to see high-minded ideals cheapened by an act of wickedness.

Or is it wickedness disguised by high-minded ideals?

Bakers Without Borders got their point across-- but what is their next step?

I don't think they have a real recipe.

If we are to create a better, more just world-- we need better think a little farther ahead.

by Medea Benjamin
To Those Who Threw a Pie in My Face, Let’s Swap Recipes
Medea Benjamin

On the eve of the closing of the first ever US Social Forum in Atlanta, CODEPINK hosted a reception in the Peace and Justice Tent. We raised our glasses in a toast to the historic gathering and the wonderful activists from around the country. We belted out “Ain’t gonna study war no more” and other peace songs in three-part harmony. We laughed raucously as we enjoyed each other’s company. And we closed with a congo line that snaked out of the tent. Suddenly, while basking in the warmth of the camaraderie, I felt someone’s hand smashing into my face. It was so quick I didn’t have time to even close my eyes. With goo dripping down by face and my eyes burning, I realized I had been “pied.” I invite you to see the photos and video that my attackers posted online. You’ll see how our merrymaking was spoiled by not-so-merry pranksters guilty of a pie-by hit and run.

It’s particularly odd that this group of pie-slingers chose the Social Forum for their attack. The first ever Social Forum in the United States was supposed to be a place to grow our movement, to build unity, to respect differences, to embrace each other. These Bay Area Bakers could have spent their time meeting Katrina survivors from the Gulf, homeless advocates from Atlanta, immigrant rights leaders from Chicago or attending some of the 900 workshops being offered. Instead they spent their time plotting an attack against someone with whom they probably agree on 90 percent of the issues. The organizers of the forum, seeing the incident as both an individual assault and an assault on the very principles of the forum, publicly denounced the attack during one of the main plenaries.

So, you might ask, why was I targeted? While the pie-throwers fled the scene of the crime, they did leave behind leaflets. I am, they say, “a self-appointed ‘spokesperson’ whose actions further the commodification of resistance and sabotage our movement's sustainability and credibility. This person's actions benefit the NGO Industrial Complex at the expense of real democracy and solidarity.” That’s a mouthful from these self-appointed critics, judges and prosecutors. But it actually sounds like good fodder for a healthy debate. Instead of a “pie-by”, they could have dropped by any of the five open workshops where I was speaking and we could have had a great discussion. Or they could have easily found me at the Global Exchange or CODEPINK tables where I was hanging out for days, chatting with anyone who wanted to talk.

But the pie-flingers were not interested in fruitful dialogue, but tasteless condemnations. Their leaflet went on to say:

1. I sided with police and municipal authorities against direct actions performed at the World Trade Organization protests of 1999 (Truth: I disagreed with the tactic of smashing windows and helped gather an activist clean-up crew to show our goodwill to the people of Seattle. And after eight years, this grudge is mighty stale!)

2. My organization Global Exchange hordes funds raised for community organizations in Guatemala (Huh? I have no idea what this one means. We promote fair trade and have helped channel millions of dollars to producers all over the world, including Guatemala. See

3. Global Exchange solicited the economic dependency of residents in Cuba and then abandoned the project, pushing the Cuban participants deeper into poverty. (Truth: We have organized hundreds of people-to-people delegations to Cuba, and even with the Bush administration coming down on us, we still take groups to Cuba to build ties of friendship.)

4. I publicly refused to endorse a call for Israel to unconditionally withdraw from Southern Lebanon in the 2006 war. (Truth: I always called for unconditional withdrawal, and even went to Lebanon in the midst of the bombing to show my commitment to an immediate ceasefire.)

Having been involved in the movement for social justice for almost 40 years now, I’ve developed thick skin after facing so many attacks from hateful, violent people. Whenever I appear on TV shows such as Hannity and Colmes or Bill O’Reilly, I receive vicious messages on my phone and threatening emails that scare my children and anger my husband with their variations on the theme of “Die, you ugly, communist, lesbian, American-hating bitch.” I have learned over the years that attacks come with the territory—but it does take me by surprise (and hurt the most) when the attacks come from the left instead of the right, from people who are supposed to be your allies.

Years back, I remember reading with amusement about the Biotic Baking Brigade that roamed the world flinging pies in the face of the “upper crust”—people deemed responsible for corporate crimes. These included the CEOs of Monsanto, Novartis, Chevron and ENRON. In fact, I had organized a protest against ENRON CEO Jeffrey Skilling in San Francisco when a young woman in the audience threw a pie in his face. It was an act of “speaking pie to power,” she said.

But while a pie in the face of the ENRON crook might seem like just desserts, other targets the brigade chose were half-baked. Ralph Nader was pied while at a San Francisco press conference supporting a Green Party candidate for Governor. Sierra Club Director Carl Pope was pied for supposedly supporting legislation that would increase logging in California—a bill the Sierra Club actually opposed. And then all sorts of random people were pied—filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, artist Andy Warhol, singer Kenny Rogers, Jimmy Carter’s brother Billy. With no quality control, the Biotic Baking Brigade had become the Myopic Baking Brigade.

The problem was not just who was getting creamed, but the creaming itself. Sure, pie-throwing can be good natured—like at a fundraiser at a county fair or a college food fight. It can also be hilarious, like the slapstick comedy of the Three Stooges or Charley Chaplin. But when done with malice, it can easily turn sour. I remember a nasty episode when San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was pied by three people who held him responsible for policies that created more homelessness. One of the culprits was our friend Justin Gross. Justin was a sweet, gentle soul who cooked us vegan lunches once a week at Global Exchange and worked with Food Not Bombs. The mayor was hurt in the assault, and when the “piers” were tackled to the ground by security, one of them broke her clavicle. Justin was sentenced to six months in jail for battery.

When Sierra Club Director Carl Pope was pied, the tofu in the cream didn’t mollify him. “The pie has nothing to do with it,” Pope said bitterly. “It’s the fist behind the pie. It’s like being slugged.”

Now I know exactly what he meant. I often thought that if I was pied, I’d laugh it off. Big deal. A bit of cream in the face. But it felt like a punch in the sucker. It felt very violent. In fact, I am still shell-shocked. When people I don’t know approach me to say hello, I flinch and brace myself for a beating.

In the wake of the assault with a high-caloric weapon, I could have followed the footsteps of Willie Brown or Ann Coulter by pressing charges. I’d have a great case, because I have on videotape both the successful pieing and an unsuccessful and even more violent attempt hours earlier. But I wouldn’t do that. Why? I actually feel sorry for people who harbor so much resentment and come from a place of such anger. Perhaps these pie-throwers are wounded people who lack the essential ingredients of a fulfilling life—a supportive family and community that provides a healthy dosage of love.

I feel the love from my wonderful husband and two daughters. I feel the love from my colleagues at Global Exchange, where we’ve built an organization with 40 staff whose lives are dedicated to transforming the world for the better. I feel it from my sisters at CODEPINK, which now has 150,000 supporters, 250 local chapters, and a house in DC that serves as a hub of anti-war activism and a place that empowers new activists every day.

That’s my recipe for not only a healthy life, but my contribution to changing our world. I ask the pie-throwers, what’s yours?

Instead of packing a punch, why not come over for lunch? Let’s swap our recipes for change. And I’d be happy to bake you the dessert of your choice. May I suggest humble pie?

Medea Benjamin, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK is accessible, even to pie-throwers, at medea [at]
by I Love Pie!

Get your priorities and goals straight, you're selfishly addressing a quote about the WTO which dates back to 1999.

This country lost roughly 3000 people on Sept. 11th 2001, there are tens of thousands of Iraqis and over 3500 soldiers who have died the Iraq war.

Maybe you're next target will be one of the rights evil doers instead of the lefts peacemakers.
by @
Medea, thank you for not pressing charges. However I hope you and other folks who have taken on roles of responsibility and prominence in our movements do some soul searching about what that flyer was talking about when it talked about commodification of resistance and hurting the sustainability and credibility of the movement. I have always appreciated seeing you and other dedicated organizers in movements take public stands and do the hard work of confronting authoritarian institutions. I don't think anyone is telling you to be quiet or stop fighting, but that they have concerns.

When the Bakers without Borders and Co-optation Watch say that they hold you accountable for your role in the decisions and behaviors that they list in their flyer and they select the tactic of pieing you, it is precisely because they despair of having conversations with you and changing your behavior. The point of pieing is to "show" not tell. It is a statement that they find it impossible to bring up their grievances to you and have them addressed with anything but polite refutation. Plus, pieing is a media stunt directed at telling as many people as possible that they think that you are not reachable by conversation and that their concerns will not be addressed through "polite or proper channels".

Here's where I think that their analysis/concerns are particularly important in the context of the US Social Forum:

The U.S. Social Forum is part of the World Social forum current, where groups and individuals come together to share ideas and network in a space that is not a convention or decision making space, so there is nothing to monopolize or take over. By coming together in a voluntary networking space without hope of "seizing it" in the name of a particular group or party (or non-profit), people can come to a deeper understanding of each others' needs and build relationships that will strengthen all of the movements without electing a vanguard to run it or adopting an ideology to follow and instead see opportunities to organize together as peers.

The tensions and concerns about "commodification of resistance" being raised (pie-a-riffically) at the U.S. Social Forum resonate with me because there is an emerging conversation that is on the lips of many non-profit/ngo/union/civil-society staffers about how they have to spend so much of their time chasing or defending their funding by documenting how many services are provided or how many people they could get to a meeting that the reason that they got into the work gets lost. It ceases to be about how the organization can address the root causes of poverty or homelessness or sexual assault or human trafficking and becomes a race to see how much funding they can get and how to make sure that nobody does anything that could hurt the funding of the organization by making them look "too radical" or "outside the mainstream". Then the real struggles of people on the ground have to be turned into numbers to fit into boxes on grant applications: poof, your eviction/rape/immigration-status/underpayment becomes a commodity with a dollar sign. X number of people suffering equals Y number of dollars for a program that has to not offend the good hearted liberal manager of capital who might grant the money to pay someone enough for a part time position with no benefits, as long as they don't do anything radical.

This conversation is framed as the "nonprofit industrial complex" and INCITE! has published a book talking about how these dynamics undermine movements for justice. Please, seriously, everyone who does this hard work or cares about people who do this work, check it out!

And Medea, what this has to do with you (and that powerful pie) is that Global Exchange (and by extension you) have been able to negotiate a compromise with the state and with funders that allows you and other staffers to do good work and get paid. Out of the millions of hours of activist work that get done in the U.S., almost all of it is unpaid. Us volunteers are happy to help build movements, but there are power dynamics where staffers have more say over what gets done because they have more time to spend doing activist work. So their voices are louder and the bigger and better funded their organization is, the bigger and louder the voice. That is privilege. We need you to listen and work to abolish the system that creates that privilege (capitalism, the IRS 501(c)3 model, and foundations) and treat the rest of the movement as peers, just as the U.S. Social Forum encourages the organizations fighting for justice to treat each other as peers. Informal power and authority within the movement can lead to white supremacist, sexist, and classist outcomes just as effectively as active segregation, manarchism, and vanguardism can.

Yours in struggle,

An anarchist
by truly tasteless
Medea Benjamin, love her or hate her is a dedicated activist who recieves almost no compensation for her tireless work. In exchange for her self-directed poverty level wages (most staff at Global Exchange, and cerftainly most poeple in this movement in the United States) take home far more wages. BUt that is not the point. Neither is it the point that she places herself at risk to forward work she believes in, places her body (and now her face) on the line, that she spends most of her time away from her loving family, and makes countless other daily sacrifices in attempt to stop this war and confront the powers that place profit before the lives of others. She does not go home at the end of her cushy 8-hour work day, in fact, for her work nbever stops. Her life -day and night- is dedicated to la causa. She does not take vacations, and she does not stop, will not stop until we a;; win. You may not agree with her all the time, but this country could use more people of her courage and conviction. I'm sorry that anarchist to Democrat we can't appreciate and value what each person brings to the table of change. I'm sorry we focus on dividing our movement instead of finding credible and positive ways to build it and make it stronger. I wonder if campesinas would pie their leaders or members with whom they disagreed? Truly Tasteless, this assault weakens us all.
by che
The best discription of Medea Benjamin to date, taken from another thread.
"Eva Peron in Pink"
by reposted from CounterPunch
So Who Did Win in Seattle? - Liberals Rewrite History

By Alexander Cockburn

Hardly had the tear gas dispersed from the streets of downtown Seattle before an acrid struggle broke out as to who should claim the spoils. It's still raging. On one side the lib-lab pundits, flacks for John Sweeney and James Hoffa like the Nation's Marc Cooper, Molly Ivins and Jim Hightower, middle-of-the road greens, Michael Moore, a recycle binful of policy wonks from the Economic Policy Institute and kindred DC think-tanks, Doug Tompkins (the former czar of sweatshop-made sports clothing who funds the International Forum on Globalization), Medea Benjamin (empress of Global Exchange). On the other side: the true heroes of the Battle in Seattle -- the street warriors, the Ruckus Society, the Anarchists, Earth First!ers, the Direct Action Media Network (DAMN), radical labor militants such as the folks at Jobs With Justice, hundreds of Longshoremen, Steelworkers Electrical Workers and Teamsters who disgustedly abandoned the respectable, police sanctioned official AFL-CIO parade and joined the street warriors at the barricades in downtown.

At issue here is the liberals' craving to fortify the quasi-myth of Labor Revived -- a "progressive coalition" of John Sweeney's AFL-CIO, Hoffa's Teamsters, mainstream greens -- poised and ready to recapture the soul of the Democratic Party. The way they're spinning it, the collapse of the WTO talks in Seattle was a glorious triumph for respectable demonstrators, achieve despite the pernicious rabble smashing window, harassing the police and bringing peaceful mainstream protest into disrepute.

Listen to Ivins: "Of those 35,000 people, fewer than l,000 misbehaved by trashing some local stores. How much more coverage do the l,000 who misbehaved get than the 34,000 who didn't? A. 35 times as much? B. 34 times as much? C. Virtually all the coverage? You are correct: C is the answer. Do the other 34,000 people get any coverage? Yes—they are referred to as "some people concerned about the turtles"... Meanwhile the violent protesters are interviewed on national television, identify themselves as anarchists and explain to us all that owning property is wrong and that none of the earth should be in private hands."

Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, took a similar tack in an internal memo to his board of directors: "The Sierra Club was completely separate from the illegal protest, both violent and non-violent..." Pope went on to quote Kathleen Casey, one of his staffers, to the effect that "The new coalition that worked together to thwart the WTO came out a clear winner. The Sierra Club achieved many of our goals despite the chaos and unfortunate violence that occurred in some of the actions... Some small factions engaged in vandalism and provocation, and the police sometimes over-reacted in kind."

The Nation's Marc Cooper announced tremulously that "the media focus on a few broken store windows should not distract from the profundity of what has happened here..." Cooper evoked "a phantasmagorical mix of tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators... something not seen since the sixties, but in [its] totality unimaginable even then." And what this "unimaginable" thing? "The rough outlines of the much-sought-after progressive coalition -- an American version of a 'red-green' alliance."

To the fervid imagination of Michael Moore the union protests in Seattle had an effect on President Bill Clinton akin to that exercised by Jesus Christ on St Paul on the Damascus road: "He completely changed his position [he didn't] and called on all WTO countries to enact laws prohibiting trade with nations that use children in sweatshops and do not honor the rights of all workers to organize a union. Whoa!... So, for Clinton to climb the space needle (or was he chased up it?) and then declare [he didn't] that the human rights of workers were more important than making a buck, well, this was nothing short of Paul being knocked off his horse [he wasn't] and seeing Jesus [he didn't]!...You could almost hear the collective seething of the hundreds of CEOs gathered in Seattle. Their boy Bill -- the politician they had bought and paid for ... had betrayed them. You could almost see them reaching for their Palm Pilots to look up the phone number of the The Jackal." In this blinding curve of balderdash Moore manages to conflate Christ, Clinton, Paul and JFK, truly a grand slam of liberal hagiography!

To concoct the myth of respectable triumph in Seattle, divorced from dreadlocked and locked-down Earth First!-ers, turbulent Ruckusites and kindred canaille, the respectable liberals have been torturing the data and the data confessed. Here's how it goes: initial scouting parties of liberal policy wonks arrived in Seattle over the weekend prior to the WTO assembly and embarked on a series of sleep-inducing debates and panels, chewing over the minutiae of proposed WTO rules and regulations. As originally envisaged, these moots were scheduled to last all week, until by a process of inexorable erosion, like the Colorado river gradually cleaving its way through the Navajo sandstone to create the Grand Canyon, the WTO would be transmuted into a wholesome compact between First World and Third, between mighty corporations and African peasants, Nike and starving Indonesian workers to the betterment of all.

Then, the liberal fanatasy continues, on Monday battalions of clean-limbed environmentalists in their turtle necks and turtle costumes moved in disciplined array to a [police-approved] rallying spot where they were uplifted by the measured words of that Lenin of mainstream greenery, Carl Pope. After the speechifying, the battalions redeployed in the Methodist church on Fifth which sheltered the command and control center of the progressive Non-Governmental Organizations, aka NGOs. (In foundation-funded political wonkdom the acronym "NGO" is used constantly, often in conjunction with the phrase "civil society", to evoke non-profit organizations that mediate the public interest with governments. Oxfam is an NGO. The Interfaith Council is an NGO. World Wildlife Fund is an NGO. etc etc.) Down in the basement of the church and indeed rarely emerging into the light of day was Jim Hightower, the faux-populist icon of Austin, Radio Nation's Marc Cooper and other communicators. Upstairs were the briefing rooms and mock tribunals in more or less permanent session.

It's hard to continue relating this fantasy version of history with a straight face, because it's so divorced from reality, but its official finale was the great labor march of Tuesday, November 30, when some 25,000 union people rallied under the indulgent eyes of the Seattle constabulary in old football stadium, to listen to John Sweeney, James P. Hoffa of the Teamsters and such labor chieftains as Gerald McEntee of the AFSCME. The divorce of rhetoric from reality was best represented by McEntee who reiterated Carl Oglesby's famous line from the l960s, "We have to name the system". Unlike Oglesby, who was a genuinely radical SDS leader, McEntee has been among the most fervent of all Big Labor's supporters of Clinton-Gore.

When the rally was over, Sweeney and Hoffa led their thousands towards Downtown where at that precise moment the street warriors were desperately but successfully preventing delegates from entering the Convention Center and Paramount theater where the opening ceremony was scheduled to taker place. It was touch and go as cops steadily got rougher and the tear gas got thicker. Certainly the arrival of thousands of labor marchers on the scene would have made it much more difficult for the cops to gas, beat and shoot the activists with wooden dowells and rubber bullets. It would have diminished the hundreds of serious injuries sustained by the street warriors.

The labor marchers approached and then... their own marshals turned them back. A few rebellious steelworkers, longshoremen, electrical workers and teamsters did disobey their leaders, push into downtown and join the battle. The main march withdrew in respectable good order and dispersed peacefully to their hotels, where Molly Ivins and the other scriveners began composing their denunciations of the anarcho-trashers who had marred their great event.

It would no doubt be polite to treat this myth-making as contemptible but harmless self-aggrandisement. But real social movements for change shouldn't be built on illusions, and the self-aggrandisement is far from harmless. Take Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange, an NGO that has made its name on the sweatshop issue, dickering with Nike over the pay rates and factory conditions of its workers in Vietnam, Indonesia and China. Whatever cachet Benjamin might have won by sneaking into a WTO session and being arrested and briefly addressing the delegates was swiftly squandered by her subsequent deeds, defending Niketown. Benjamin and her Global Exchange cohorts stood on the steps of Niketown and sweatshop outlets in downtown Seattle to defend to premises against demonstrators. As Benjamin herself proudly described her shameful conduct to the New York Times: "Here we are protecting Nike, McDonalds, the GAP and all the while I'm thinking, 'Where are the police? These anarchists should have been arrested." On the Nation website one can find an equally disgusting sample of this ass-kissing of corporate slave drivers. Stephanie Greenwood excitedly quotes the slogan of a person she describes as "her Nation boss", said slogan being "Capitalism, no thanks! We'll burn your fucking banks." But woe betide any demonstrator who took this slogan seriously, as encouragement to inflict direct injury on capitalist property. Greenwood goes on to report admiringly a scene outside Levi Strauss where the respectable protesters "brought kids who had kicked windows in over to the cops and asked them to arrest them."

Fortunately for the kids, the cops didn't heed the invitation. Had they done so, these kids could now be facing up to ten years for "malicious mischief", which is the charge prosecutors in the North West are bringing against street activists. And those people turned in by Benjamin and the others did endure awful treatment in jail. An early report by Amnesty International describes "systematic cruel treatment was used to coerce or punish violent protesters for acts of non-compliance such as refusing to give their names in King county jail. One person was slammed against a wall, beaten while lying on the floor and his fingers forced back with a pencil. In another case guards squeezed a man's nose, almost suffocating him, when he refused to give out his name... Also at King county jail, people were allegedly strapped into four-point restraint chairs as punishment for non-violent resistance or asking for their lawyers. In one case a man was stripped naked before being strapped into the chair. One woman was stripped naked by four women guards, while a male guard outside watched. She further had her arms and legs folded behind her and was held down on the floor with the full weight of two guards on top of her."

Aside from the baneful consequences of this on-ground-collusion with the cops, the larger political agenda of the liberals with their myth-making is far from benign either. By falsely proclaiming a victory for peaceful pro-cop protesters, they now can move on under a largely factitious banner of "unity", and hunker down with the government policy makers to rewrite the WTO treaty to their satisfaction. This is the core meaning of co-option, and certainly the writers at the London Economist understand it well enough. In the wake of Seattle the Economist ran a long article discussing the rising power of NGOs, which successfully challenged the World Bank, sank the Multilateral Agreement on Investment and engineered the brilliant anti-landmine campaign. But, the Economist continued, there's hope. "Take the case of the World Bank. The 'Fifty Years is Enough' campaign of l994 was a prototype of Seattle (complete with activists invading the meeting halls). Now the NGOs are surprisingly quiet about the World Bank. The reason is that the Bank has made a huge effort to coopt them." The Economist went on to describe how World Bank president James Wolfensohn had given the NGOs a seat at the table, and now more than 70 NGO policy wonks now work in the Bank's offices world-wide, and half of the bank's projects have some NGO involvement. No one should look sat the NGOs without first reading Michel Foucault on co-option and internalisation of the disciplinary function.

Finally, the myth-making actively demobilizes radical struggles against the two party status quo, since it pretends that one of the two parties -- naturally, the Democrats -- can actually be redeemed. Just listen to Michael Moore proclaiming the redemption and possible martyrdom of Bill Clinton. These are people who be rallying next year outside the Republican Convention in Philadelphia but not outside the Democratic convention in Los Angeles, notwithstanding the fact that there is at least some disagreement between the Republican presidential aspirants on the WTO, whereas Gore and Bradley are in harmonious concord on this issue.

But of course it's all a myth, which can be easily popped with a simple question: if labor's legions had not shown up in Seattle the direct action protesters would have at least succeeded in shutting down the opening session on Tuesday, November 30, and they conceivably could have dominated the agenda of the entire week, as in fact they did. If the direct action protesters had not put their bodies on the line throughout that entire week, if the only protest had been that under official AFL-CIO banners, then there would have been a 15-second image of a [parade on the national news headlines that Tuesday evening and that would have been it. The WTO would have gone forward with barely a ripple of discord except for what the African and Caribbean nations had managed to foment from the inside.

Remember, after Tuesday most of the labor people had gone back to work, and the street warriors were on their own, prompting the Seattle police finally to overreach and go berserk to such a degree that the people of Seattle and the press turned against them. People like Moore and Ivins should be taking up the cause of those protesters still facing charges. They should also be pinning the blame on those who told the cops to take the gloves off. By Tuesday night both the White House and the US Justice Department were telling the mayor of Seattle that Clinton would not come if the streets weren't cleared. Reno wanted the feds to take over the policing actions, which almost certainly would have led to a massacre.

Contrast the outlook of Benjamin and the other protectors of corporate property with the attitude of a 34-year old Oregon farmer who found himself in the midst of the downtown protest, was arrested and harshly treated in jail: "To break a window in a retail facility in downtown Seattle is nothing compared to what some of these CEOs are doing daily."

Leave the last words to Jeff Crosby, the president of a union local of International Union of Electrical Workers who flew to Seattle with 15 of his fellow union members from New England. Crosby works at a GE plant, who is about to relocate in Mexico. After he went home, Crosby put up on the web this open letter:

"The decision by the AFL-CIO not to plan direct action was a mistake. The literature and petition the AFL-CIO used for Seattle was mostly unreadable and unusable, with no edge. Despite some heroic efforts by union folks in Seattle and other places, the AFL-CIO campaign was reminiscent of the 'old' AFL-CIO's campaign against NAFTA -- remember 'Not This NAFTA'? If we had run a campaign against the congressional 'Fast Track' vote with 'Not this fast-track', we would have lost that one too. Did anyone really try to bring people to Seattle under the slogan, 'We demand a working group'?

"This is a period when on certain issues, massive, non-violent direct action is in order, as the demonstration in Seattle shows. Every member who went on our trip reports that support for the demonstrations, even with the disruptions, is overwhelming. And not just from other workers in the shop, buty family and other friends, regardless of what they do for a living. 'Since we came home, we're being treated like conquering heroes,' marveled on of our group.

"Perhaps the AFL-CIO was driven by policy advisers in Washington who didn't understand how angry people are about this issue... Perhaps they did not want to embarrass Gore. Perhaps Sweeney had an agreement with Clinton to ask for enforcible labor standards. Perhaps they thought that most people would be turned off by civil disobedience, or something else, I don't know. There were plenty of people in the labor movement pushing for the labor movement to join in the Direct Action -- we lost."

Fortunately the street warriors won.
by yep
Seems like this disturbed her more than a mere prank so I'm not completely sure what I think of this.

On the one side it can be seen as a way of lightening up a situation where an activist leader takes themselves too seriously and the militant talk around the act is just part of what makes it a form of play. On the other hand the images of women getting pied in the face with a white creme pie beings up images of exploitative forms of porn and sexual assault; if such images are popular even unconciously for that reason it seems like this is an overall negative. Even when you see Bil Gates get pied is the thrill one of seeing him taken down a notch or is it a form of wanting to see him degraded in a pseudo-sexual manner?

In terms of Medea being a self appointed leader who may seem like she takes her self too seriously, I also wonder how much gender figures into this. I also have heard similar complaints about male "leaders" but interestingly they are always about leaders who are a bit light-hearted in a slightly feminine way and one rarely hears the same complaints about more militant leaders like Ward Churchill or serious academics like Chomsky (and both of them take themselves way way too seriously in comparison with the activists who are usually criticized).
You have your rights to say, act and live just to do what you did, because such as people like her, the one you so cowardly attacked, from behind. You did not even have the courage to let yourself be seen. You just hid behind your words. You can not even stand, be seen and let others see the person who believes such things. YOUR A COWARD and nothing more, continue to hide, smash your pies in the faces of those not afraid to be seen and seek change. For you will only be remembered as a Coward, she will be remembered as a martyr who stood, was seen and made change. Think, snakes slither around on their bellies, then strike, you are a snake.
by BWB - Co-optation Watch cell
People are talkin, talking 'bout people
I hear them whisper, you won't believe it
They think we're lovers kept under covers
I just ignore it, but they keep saying
We laugh just a little too loud
We stand just a little too close
We stare just a little too long
Maybe they're seeing, something we don't, Darlin'
--Bonnie Raitt, "Something to Talk About"

People were talking at the historic, very first United States Social Forum. Talking. Talking talking talking. We know, because we were listening. And talking, ourselves, too, sure. Talking. Listening. Not surprisingly, a major topic was the role of non-profits in the global movement for social justice. Officially, it was the theme of workshops and presentations. Unofficially, it was the continuation of an ongoing conversation that was recently revived by the Zapatistas' Sexta Declaración de la Selva Lacandona. At least. Recently. I mean, people have been talking about that since, like, the 60's, right? So people were talking, right? Talking about the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, right?

According to LIP MAGAZINE, the US non-profit sector is the seventh largest economy in the world. At a conference put on by INCITE! in 2004 called The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, "movement builders from within the [Non-Profit Sector] spoke of the paralysis, disempowerment and ineffectiveness of the nonprofit world." This year, 2007, a collection of essays was released by the same group under the same title. We invite this movement to pick up copies of that book and take a look in the mirror. Like Bonnie Raitt sings, "maybe they're seeing something we don't."

On Saturday, June 30th Medea Benjamin, self-appointed spokesperson for popular movements, received a tasty banana cream pie courtesy of the Bakers Without Borders, Co-optation Watch cell. The tactic of delivering our critique of just desserts was specifically chosen as a social critique from within our peoples’ movement which mobilizes a tradition of tricksters, clowns, jesters, pranksters and yippies to make serious commentary in a playful way. And while our actions were playful, the issues which motivated us were serious. So, in the spirit of Hopi clowns, court jesters, and buffoons of all ages, Bakers Without Borders offer this movement a mirror—at the bottom of a pie tin—for self-reflection. Are these funhouse mirrors the clowns hold up? Do we really take ourselves that seriously? Have our heads really swollen that big?

Global Trade-Off and Code Pinkerton represent the vanguard of the Non-Profit Industrial complex. All of us in the Co-optation Watch cell of Bakers Without Borders have collaborated with Global Trade-Off and Code Pinkerton, at some point, to some extent. That's how big they are. And sadly, many of our allies, feel like we cannot publicly express our concerns. But know this—we are many. We call Code Pinkerton, Global Trade-Off, and the many non-profits like them to account for co-opting, manipulating, and exploiting local community organizing and resources, the world over, as they engage in "parachute activism" where they drop into communities with no meaningful attempt at equal-footing collaboration with long-standing community groups. Here, there, and everywhere. Shine a spotlight; hold up a microphone; there they are: speaking for you.

However you engage this topic, the Co-optation Watch cell of Bakers Without Borders invites you to join us on the low road, that dusty path that stretches across the grass roots and mud puddles. And feel free to bring pie. We like pie. Mmmmm, pie...

In splooshy solidarity,

Agents aNGie O'tool and Cherry Karim

"Never doubt that a small, committed group of people with pies can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
by ussf attendee
brilliant. For this conversation on cooptation and the Non-profit industrial complex to take off, this HAD to be done. A public conversation starts with a political spectacle, and this was it. Thank you Cooptation watch and Bakers without borders
Your display of mature diplomacy on the issues certainly speak more clearly than your words.
Gosh, we need more people like you in the world.
Then we could all be needlessly violent and pretend it was "just for fun".
You know, kind of like Our President.
I am so proud of you!
Everyone on the Left needs more demoralizing, discrediting, debased behavior in the public eye. Especially right now!
And we couldn't do it without you.
Thanks so very much!

Happy Fourth of July!!!
by guess
Apparently chefs can dish it out, but they sure can't take it.
by Rebelgirl
Medea Benjamin deserved that pie. She needs to stop ranting and go away for a while.
She is a sqirmy loud mouthed weak minded boob.
There comes a time and place when people like her just get on your nerves.
We need real people who will stand up to their beliefs, and be willing to counter an out of control government with violence, or direct action.
Her direct actions are weak and consist of speaches. We need revolutionaries, not pretty in pink wanna bees.
by guess
Please tell me about the revolutionaries you support?

Because otherwise, you come off like a jerk.

You know... compare and contrast...

I'm not a liberal, nor a member of Code Pink or Global Exchange.

So what?

You're a "radical" – then do tell what you think people should be doing...

I'm all ears.
Though I appreciate and agree with this fear and anger over 'spokepeople' of the so called left, this just smacks (oops!) of more actions that prove how ineffectual, and vanguard grandstanding and blinded by spectacle the most intelligent and rightous good people of the real bottom up 'left' is in the USA.
If we all had spent the last 20 years really organizing a non ballot box, directly democratic militant 'left', we wouldn't even have to bother with a well meaning but perhaps grandstanding media face. You are playing the same game. Reacting in a hierachical manner to hierarchies. Reactionary. This is not organizing. It is playing for cameras, and thus attention to 'statements'.
The 'US social forum" won't make one dent. And you all know that. No matter how many people involved in it that I respect, the reality is, nothing will change without mass bottom up organizing. Without international solidarity built on peoples' movements. It's the cart before the horse. As so many of my fellow anarchists are blinded that 'a demonstration' or action 'creates a social justice movement'. That is backwards. A demonstration or direct action like this creates nothing. It has no power. Unless the power of the people are behind it.
I think medea's response was pathetic and whiney, proving she is really
just a power playing liberal. But you have played into the same game of vying for a 'face' in the 'news'. 99% of the people of the USA won't even see this, or understand why the hell it happened.
It may have been 'hard work' to do , and it is 'hard work' to organize righteous demonstrations, but it seems none of us have the ability, nor the will, nor the political or social maturity, to recognize the real hard work that has to be done.
I include myself in this. I have spent 20 years in 'political bands'. When I could have done the same and done real mutual aid organizing. I have failed my generation, and I have failed my own ambition. We do not have much time to make up for our failures.
organization of the 'dumb americans' takes time , young and old input, and a clear headed view of a LONG HAUL. It also takes a street level view that most people are not 'dumb'. But atomized, without even a semblance of real community and support both politically and economically and socially. That is what anarchism has always addressed to me.
If you don't believe even a large minority of the urban american population wants great change, you have no right to call yourself a socialist libertarian, nor an anarchist. 'Spectacle' is vanguardism. When not backed by a large directly democratic organization. ...of the people.
there is a reason that the real left of the world, has always stressed direct democracy, participatory economics and mutual aid...for hundreds of years.
With sometimes great gains for millions of people. Cameras, and computers have not really changed the game. Nor the targets.
You can't stop a juggenaught, typing on a laptop, and you sure as hell, won't create a viable people's power base by giggling about pie throwing.
And as I said. There is blood on my hands, for my own inaction.

by Emma Mae
I heard.... that late one night, on a street corner in downtown Atlanta, among the many pockets of popular resistance from hoods all across the country, that were able to meet up amidst the intermittently beautiful madness of the US Social Forum, a beautiful sista from the 7th ward of New Orleans screamed towards the end of a rant : "All I see here are poverty pimps."

I want to give mad props to the Bakers Without Boarders, and I also want to call out those of you in an uproar about unity in the left over this pie in face of "Media" Benjamin. The kind of unity that requires a bridled silence around the issues raised by the BWB, has a name: FASCISM. I am personally very excited that the silence around these issues, has been broken in such a glorious and powerfully direct way. Medea Benjamin and others like her in the chain of Non Profit Industrial Complex Tycoons, are just that: Poverty Pimps.
by say your name
Everyone who advocates attacking left-wing activists and leaders, including at OPEN forums where their BELIEFS can be challenged, should sign their name.

Otherwise you frankly come off like pigs seeking to promote misunderstanding on general principle.

I don't agree that Medea Benjamin is "my leader" – but I sure as hell appreciate what she's done... all and all.

Those who attack and hide behind anonymity, political identity or loose rhetoric should at least bother to say what it is they advocate.

Otherwise you will get all the derision and dismissal you deserve (and not just from "liberals" and "poverty pimps", which Benjamin isn't in any case whatever you think of her liberalism).
by guess
Okay, so we're still waiting for the so-called anarchists to tell us what we should be doing...

Maybe light a few SUVs on fire, snitch out our friends and then go to prison?

Yeah, that's the ticket. Good thing you anarchists understand that acountability is authoritarian, just like organization and having a plan besides acting like judgemental twits.
by your actions make me sick
shame on the pie throwers - you picked the wrong target. your actions, in this case, make me sick.

what did you accomplish? absolutely nothing.

maybe you should consider a real target, like the CEO of Coca Cola or Georgia Gulf, not someone who has dedicated her life to fighting for peace and justice.
by Rich Liberal
>>>>For you will only be remembered as a Coward, she will be remembered as a martyr who stood, was seen and made change.

Media is like Jesus! She pays for our sins, so we don't have to. We just pay her...
by @gainst me
"Baby, I'm An Anarchist!"

Through the best of times,
Through the worst of times,
Through Nixon and through Bush,
Do you remember '36?
We went our seperate ways.
You fought for Stalin.
I fought for freedom.
You believe in authority.
I believe in myself.
I'm a molotov cocktail.
You're Dom Perignon.
Baby, what's that confused look in your eyes?
What I'm trying to say is that
I burn down buildings
While you sit on a shelf inside of them.
You call the cops
On the looters and piethrowers.
They call it class war,
I call it co-conspirators.

'Cause baby, I'm an anarchist,
You're a spineless liberal.
We marched together for the eight-hour day
And held hands in the streets of Seattle,
But when it came time to throw bricks
Through that Starbucks window,
You left me all alone.

You watched in awe at the red,
White, and blue on the fourth of july.
While those fireworks were exploding,
I was burning that fucker
And stringing my black flag high,
Eating the peanuts
That the parties have tossed you
In the back seat of your father's new Ford.
You believe in the ballot,
Believe in reform.
You have faith in the elephant and jackass,
And to you, solidarity's a four-letter word.
We're all hypocrites,
But you're a patriot.
You thought I was only joking
When I screamed "Kill Whitey!"
At the top of my lungs
At the cops in their cars
And the men in their suits.
No, I won't take your hand
And marry the State.

'Cause baby, I'm an anarchist,
You're a spineless liberal.
We marched together for the eight-hour day
And held hands in the streets of Seattle,
But when it came time to throw bricks
Through that Starbucks window,
You left me all alone.
by lol
...exactly who that Molotov cocktail was named for?

I'm sorry, but that's just too rich.
by back on point?
Molotov cocktail, mockingly named after Vyacheslav Molotov.....

by not an anarchist, not a liberal
It's a big world...

"maybe you should consider a real target, like the CEO of Coca Cola or Georgia Gulf, not someone who has dedicated her life to fighting for peace and justice."

You are so assuming that these so-called anarchists care about anything but their own navel. You're assuming they are, in fact, anarchists and not some goofy freelance COINTELPRO bullshit.

Think that's a joke? Read any book on Cointelpro and what you'll learn is that <i>anonymous, sectarian</i> attacks were one of the single most important bags in the FBI's book of tricks. Anarchists, who are as allergic to accountability as they are to soap, are a perfect foil for these misadventures because anyone can do anything and still claim to be an "anarchist".

That's why the issue of cowardice is so sharp.

If you'll attack somebody by name, while distorting their actual positions and record, then you deserve nothing but shame. You do the man's business for him.

For the record, I <i>disagree</i> with Medea's overall liberal politics. But you know, when I step outside into the real world – she's been FUCKING GREAT, while anarchists have turned into a sort of stinky version of the Sparticist League.

I'd be depressed if THAT mattered, which it doesn't. Since anarchists can't build a group that lasts longer than a month... it's not exactly disappointing that their own illusions aren't contageous.

(PS – name the army that liberated Hitler's concentration camps... Hint: It wasn't anarchist.)
by still lol
"Do you remember '36?
We went our seperate ways.
You fought for Stalin.
I fought for freedom.
You believe in authority.
I believe in myself. "

Apparently. By the way, you didn't fight in Spain. You're some dumb kid who thinks that because you IDENTIFY with something you actually bear the weight.

But I guess you learned the most important lesson from Spain: better Franco than democracy.

How did that turn out? Anarchists went ape shit because they believed in "me" – while the rest of the Loyalists believed in the results of the ELECTIONS. In other words, it's not just about YOU.
by me
The Bakers forgot to mention Meadea's support for John Kerry in 2004. Medea and other "leaders of the left" i.e., Chomsky, Zinn & Co., told us to vote for Kerry, who wanted to escalet the war in Iraq.
by guess
Well, I didn't vote for Kerry either.

What do you want, a cookie?

Or are you gonna pie every liberal in the country who doesn't muster up to your (apparently cannibalistic) game plan?
by continuing to LOL
The Molotov cocktail is <i>respectfully</i> named after the General in the Soviet Red Army who helped millions of anti-fascist partisans beat back the seemingly invincible Nazi hordes. Lacking the endless armored divisions of the industrialized fascists, they had to make do with whatever they could.

So the Molotov was born to burn out the rubber wheels inside the fascists' tanks.

There was (and is) nothing "mocking" about the name.

Then again, it seems like you anonymous, cowardly cretins respect nothing.
by Mohammed
how this pie has opened a floodgate of liberal criticisms of anarchists. You know i got my criticisms of both. Mostly revolving around issues of white privilege. But to hear these liberals talk about historical ballot boxes and cointel-pro in the same breath.... like they know shit about real infiltration, and reading their snide remarks about recent unlawful investigations and arrests of these young innocent environmental activists, the truth shines through real clear. With progressives like these, who needs cops? I've seen anarchists do really stupid things, but never the level of long term damage that big name poverty pimp NGOs cause around the world, which I have seen first hand in the global south, as in my own community. I think anarchists have done and do a better job of taking responsibility for their privilege than liberals, and this pie in Medea Benjamin's face is a glaring example of that responsibility.
Neither liberals nor anarchist really represent the needs of my community, but this.... this is fucking great.

Did the BWB ever identify as anarchist, or did the liberals label them that because anything outside their box, must be anarchist?

Thanks BWB, who/what ever you are.

by Capitol Hill Guy
Yep, the Code Pink crew came from Virginia in a chauffered cadillac Escalade to the Hart Senate Buliding. Can you say Green Party Hypocrite?

How many lifes to the gallon did you get Medea? Jodie? Gael?
by good point
"Did the BWB ever identify as anarchist, or did the liberals label them that because anything outside their box, must be anarchist?"

good point.

Communique on USSF Pieing by Agents aNGie O'tool and Cherry Karim
by mmm...banana cream
"maybe you should consider a real target, like the CEO of Coca Cola or Georgia Gulf, not someone who has dedicated her life to fighting for peace and justice."

you're assuming that the people who did this have not dedicated their lives as well to social justice work, have not put in endless hours of voluntary labor aimed at ameliorating suffering and ideally taking down capitalism.

i say bravo, Bakers without Borders! you go!

by Someone named Vinny
funny (as in strange) how everyone demanding people sign her/his name, is using a PSUEDONYM!
by Someone named Vinny
and please, editors, stop hiding comments! (not just on this thread) let us type what is on our minds.
by bennett
COINTELPRO was mentioned in an earlier post. COINTELPRO, was an FBI program that began in 1956 and was designed to "increase factionalism, cause disruption and win defections" first in the Communist Party USA, then expanded to left wing anti-war religious and activist groups.

The program was investigated by the Church Committee in 1975, and supposedly discontinued. That's open for debate. Certainly this pie affair is typical of the kind of tactic used back then to create dissension and distrust in the activist community.

Here's a piece from the wikipedia article on some of the methods employed in this FBI program:

"According to Brian Glick, in War at Home, COINTELPRO used a broad array of methods, including:

1. "Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents." [4]

2. "Psychological Warfare From the Outside: The FBI and police used myriad other "dirty tricks" to undermine progressive movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong-armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists." [5]

3. "Harassment Through the Legal System: The FBI and police abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment. They discriminatorily enforced tax laws and other government regulations and used conspicuous surveillance, 'investigative' interviews, and grand jury subpoenas in an effort to intimidate activists and silence their supporters."

4. "Extralegal Force and Violence: The FBI and police threatened, instigated, and themselves conducted break-ins, vandalism, assaults, and beatings. The object was to frighten dissidents and disrupt their movements. In the case of radical Black and Puerto Rican activists (and later Native Americans), these attacks—including political assassinations—were so extensive, vicious, and calculated that they can accurately be termed a form of official 'terrorism.'". [6]
by Liberal Media.
"Join the discussion" (mostly unconditional support for medea)
by laughing out loud
Well, I'm not attacking any person BY NAME so my name is irrelevent.

The fools who attacked Medea (and didn't even bother fact check their own false claims) hide their face off their pictures and distort the actual record of a very real person.

Why do I assume they are anarchists?

I don't. But bet a dollar to a dime they are. Why? Because that's who does stupid shit like this.

Since the BWB is too cowardly to take the cheers and jeers for their own misanthropy, let's list the reasons I "assume" this BWB is "anarchist":

1) Assuming anyone who doesn't believe in the immediate abolition of all government is either a "liberal" or an "authoritarian." Check.

2) Use of insults in place of argument. Check.

3) The only people (person?) who has defended this action brings up... Spanish politics from over 70 years ago. Check.

4) Claims that the world is divided between people who "love Stalin" and who "love me". Check.

5) Use of "propaganda of the deed", or the assumption that because you attack someone, they must be guilty. Check.

Some small group of anarchist cretins brought the only physical altercation into an OPEN forum of thousands, uses classic disinformation techniques to attack a more mainstream figure and then hides behind anonymity.

Sounds anarchist to me whether they put circle-@ patches on their crusty clothes or not.

Lucky for you Medea has a sense of humor, and bothers to know who the real enemy is.

The action was not cointelpro. It was well-reasoned critique. Lighten-up, will you?
by laughing out loud
I was just going to dig that up.

I suspect the culprits are too dense to read. I also suspect anyone who is critical of Global Exhange's general liberalism will understand the important points Brian Glick was raising, and will discourage these kind of sectarian attacks in the future.
by not laughing, just loud
Actually, it's not "well-reasoned" at all.

Medea clearly responded to the four points she was criticized for, and you have jack shit to say.

Anonymous, sectarian attacks using one left-wing polticial identity against another are TEXTBOOK Cointelpro. Literally textbook.

That's why communist groups who've actually endured Cointelpro know better than to engage in such stupid hijinks... and why you should wise the fuck up.

This was an open forum. You were welcome to bring your critique right to her face, but like a coward hit her from behind and then ran away.

by red star mafia
I guess that's why I'm a communist.

I work with both anarchists and liberals because the world is bigger than me and my wish list.

But you know, the choice isn't between lesser evils and judgemental naval gazing.

It's just not.
by uncommon dream
Maybe the person who pied Medea should just come clean and say their name.

She said she isn't pressing charges, despite two assaults in one day and her own video footage to show for it.

Since you are so brave, please state your name and what you do that is so much wiser and better.

by red star mafia
Was this literally Cointelpro?

I doubt it.

Was it pretty similar to what somebody above called anonymous sectarianism meant to inspire distrust?

You bet.

Medea will never live down her comments from Seattle, but it's been a hell of a ride since then. No matter how much I distrust the advice Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn and her gave to vote for John Kerry – and distrust is too mild a word – I have to say that we should understand that we're on the same side.

What we are facing now is no joke, and to use the USSF for this kind of jerkoff behavior when you could have just approached her and treated her like a human being, you know an equal, is just reprehensible.

Every person who took part in this attack should be ashamed of themselves. You actually got her positions wrong. All heat and no light.

So far, no one else bothered to answer the early comment to the anonymous cowards behind this incident:

What are you advocating for beyond personal attacks and disinformation?

What organizations or groups are doing the kind of thing you think we should emmulate?

If you can't answer that, you don't deserve even the pathetic bad vibes you're getting.
by not a liberal either
This is choice:

"I think anarchists have done and do a better job of taking responsibility for their privilege than liberals, and this pie in Medea Benjamin's face is a glaring example of that responsibility."

Right, take responsibility for your "privilege" by attacking people and literally fabricating positions for them that they don't hold. How responsible of you.

Can you name one thing Global Exchange has done to "poverty pimp" anyone?

Can you back that up with more than anonymous slag?

BTW: I'm not remotely liberal and have never voted for a Democrat (nor advocated on their behalf). The world is not divided between "liberals", which is the word anarchists use for people who remind them of their parents, and "anarchists". Nor are all communists "authoritarian", not even when they commit the crime of joining a group that lasts for longer than the trust fund drop out in chief.
by bobby-89017
"Yep, the Code Pink crew came from Virginia in a chauffered cadillac Escalade to the Hart Senate Buliding. Can you say Green Party Hypocrite? How many lifes to the gallon did you get Medea? Jodie? Gael?"

The BWB bakes pies in solar ovens? rides bikes to all their pie-throwing parties? grows their own hemp for clothing? As long as we are all part of the petrochemical economy (including transportation, food production, housing, and yes, computers and the freaking internet) none of us can cast stones.
by Clown
How has a critique of cooptation turned into a conversation about COINTELPRO?

The real infiltrators are the parachute activists and their funders, coopting local resistance.
by field negro
by Ricardo Flores Magon
Lets not confuse the issues here, the Non-Profit Industrial Complex and cooptation by the professional left. This isn't about cowardice, nor is it about launching into personal attacks, those are distracting us from seeing how Medea and the lot of professional activists act often just as repressively in terms of stiffling local grassroots movements. It took a pie to reveal that Non-Profits are a problem, in fact a monster. Those of us who have no salary or position as professional make the world a better place for global capitalism have been quiet for too long. Hopefully this will be a continuation of the conversation started by the INCITE conference...
by Zapata
Because Magon was a dipshit anarchist from a hundred years ago whose life story is marginal at best.

Say your name.

The people defending this action are the ones who did it.

So come out with it.

The issue is not "cooptation".

I'm a radical activist and have been for 15 years. I'm not in Global Exchange or Code Pink, but I'm thankful as hell for much of the work they've done.

On the other hand, I've had it up to HERE with people who hide behind whatever political identity to anonymously attack activists who do real work. Who do you think you are to attack a woman from behind and then run away like a coward?

Is that what you call prefigurative politics?

Like in the future we'll all get to be our own independent judge, jury and executioner?

You think you earn respect for lying about her political history and hiding behind obtuse psuedonyms?

You come off like jerks, and cowards too.

Magon? Wasn't he the idiot who tried to secede from Mexico to establish a Baja California casino republic? Or has the anarchist historiography machine switched on and claimed he was a leader of the Mexican revolution (which he most certainly was not)?

Here's the deal: liberal cooptation is a problem, but not something you "attack". It's called shit or get off the pot.

This was an open forum where ideas could freely meet, engage and even fight if need be. But there was no such thing as far as these anarchists were concerend. They came, attacked and ran... only to defend their pathetic actions anonymously online.

How low can you go?

Has Global Exchange ever "coopted" anything? How could they? By what means?

Oh, you mean because they do work while anarchists are busy debating cutting edge topics like "intergenerational sex" between men and children (like at Bound Together Books)?

You all better get off it, because you've been cut far more slack than you seem to realize.
by Zapata
You think anyone from the Incite conference would endorse this action?

Think again. So you should stop throwing the name of an organization around that really has nothing to do with you or your sectarian attacks.

Ask Andi what she thinks. She was, after all, a keynote speaker of the forum.
by bennett
No. Not COINTELPRO. But the same effect.

Fighting among ourselves is not the answer. When we adopt the tactics of the oppressor, we become the oppressor.

It's pretty simple really. We create the world we live in daily through our thoughts and our actions. There are plenty of ways to make a point without assaulting someone - without hurting them. I've watched people like Medea Benjamin do this effectively for years now.

It's a shame the folks that had a problem with her, didn't learn more from from her before they attacked her. They might have made their point more effectively, and not alienated so many of their comrades who are working with them for a better world.

That is, if indeed, they too are really working to create a better world. Tactics like this make me wonder. It seems more about seeking a bit of personal glory, or notoriety for their group, then righting a wrong.
by ally
That should be noted and the people who did this should stop hiding behind their name.

You should sign your own name and take responsibility for your actions.

You should also admit that of the four stated reasons you gave for attacking her, three of them turn out to be bullshit. Of the fourth, regarding Seattle, she was dead wrong.

She's also not turning you over to the police now even though she has you on camera.

Stop hiding behind groups that had the decency to put out a thoughtful critique like Incite. Stop fabricating positions to real people and hiding behind anonymity. There's nothing anti-authoritarian about that.

Yes, it stinks of COINTELPRO. Especially trying to use the name of groups that did not endorse this attack.
by Zapata
We're not fighting amongst each other. That's why this is so ridiculous.

A few dopes attacked a radical liberal activists.

Nobody even knew this happened at the USSF.

by J
ACCUSATIONS OF COINTELPRO = "You're either with us or you're against us."

by free71 (amandla71 [at]
While I agree that when many anti-war outfits become too organized and linked to money, I totally disagree with your pie tactic. Why don't you just sit down with your list of grievances and discuss them with whomever you have the disagreement? It seems simple enough. This is the real world, and should you choose to smash a pie in someone's face, have the decency and the balls not to run away like a damn coward like this person did.

If you have to take an ass-whipping for smashing a pie in someone's face, then consider it part of the territory and a badge of honor.
by Granny Gail
The anarchists who glorify violent revolution strike me as immature and self involved. My advice kids is this: keep your eyes on the prize and don't waste time doing counterproductive things.

If you love the brutality and horror of the French Revolution(the guillotine was the humane part) you'll love anarchism, I guess. Definitely not most people's cup of tea. Why increase suffering in the world?

Forcefully pie-ing a diminutive selfless woman activist sure looks cowardly and just plain mean to me.
by cb
Funny how upset you alll are... The pie thing is your trick. You all can sure dish it out so once in a while you just gotta take it. Bam.
by lol
You're not a "traitor" cause you're with us or against us.

You are an idiot because you use traditional police tactics meant to inspire distrust and misunderstandings.

This is not about "anarchists who advocate violent revolution". I wish.

No, they don't even advocate that.

What they advocate for is mistrust, personal attacks and a culture of impunity. They are like Anne Coulter types who don't even have the courage of their convictions. So stupid they are, they think hurling literally fictitious personal (psuedo-political) attacks is the same thing as raising an issue.

Well, there are debates to be had. About the Democrats and the blood on their hands, about how activists should deal with political parties and even (shocking) the role of well-funded NGOs for circumventing democratic control over social movements.

But this action stinks to high heaven, and the cowardice of the assailants means that they think they are beyond judgement while they point the finger.

The Cointelpro issue is about hiding behind anonymity, throwing out a lot of noise, distorting the actual political differences between groups and total refusal to engage in productive, constructive criticism.

All the while hiding behind anonymity.

If you don't want to be called a cop (for acting like one) then why don't you sign your name.

Medea said in print that she won't press charges, so we can only assume this is pure political cowardice (or, truly, class Cointelpro dirty tricks).

Stop using the name of Incite. The people who did this have ZERO relation to that organization, which put on a conference and book about issues of NGOs and the left. They do not advocate personal attacks or anonymous gangster behavior with a smiley face.
by anti-anti-everything
"That is, if indeed, they too are really working to create a better world. Tactics like this make me wonder. It seems more about seeking a bit of personal glory, or notoriety for their group, then righting a wrong."


This whole anarchist thing is just so played out.

After years of war and pretty much zip from the anarchists in years, the best they can muster is embarassing attacks on people who with them no harm.

How did anarchists become so stupid and sectarian?
by puleaze
That's like trying to explain electricity to a newborn.

Look fools, "government" isn't going anywhere.

You either don't know that or don't care, and in either case what's the point?

Like everyone in the Bay I know anarchists and sometimes cheer them on when their random shit occassionally hits a decent target.

But how stupid can you get?

Anarchism is like saying "whatever, who cares" about everything. It means you don't believe in anything. It means you think, you really believe that some metaphysical entity called "power" is the problem, so you have no clue how to do even the most rudimentary things.

If you're older than 25, you will have noticed that all anarchist discussions are the same. That's why the anarchist movement almost entirely consists of young drop outs. Because it's a boring philosophy that looks sillier every year you have it.

So after a while, the only people claiming to be anarchists are those praying on those too naive to know better.

(I mean, ever wonder why Bound Together books is so dedicated to stocking magazines that advocate for pedophilia. I'm serious! Just ask.)
by Susan
I have been affiliated with Code Pink for some time and have had numerous encounters with Medea. Anyone who knows Medea and has worked with her, knows her dedication and totally tireless devotion directed at overthrowing the military-industrial complex and those that prop it up.
If this pie throwing event is the best action anarchists can think of, how they can hope to do anything real to overthrow capitalism. How about using some of that event planninng energy to bring attention to our real enemies.
And - considering the spirit of unity that the Forum evoked, this act was even more out of touch with the 15,000 activ, just to name a few. This kind of frat stunt, plays right into the hands of the right, so I guess these idiots just don't get it. What a waste of energy and probably, some tasty whipped cream.
by Susan
Corrected post:
I have been affiliated with Code Pink for some time and have had numerous encounters with Medea. Anyone who knows Medea and has worked with her, knows her dedication and totally tireless devotion directed at overthrowing the military-industrial complex and those that prop it up.
If this pie throwing event is the best action anarchists can think of, how they can hope to do anything real to overthrow capitalism. How about using some of that event planninng energy to bring attention to our real enemies.
And - considering the spirit of unity that the Forum evoked, this act was even more out of touch with the 15,000 activists who pledged to put sectarianism aside to focus on the bigger issues we face such as classism, racism, militarism, fascism, globalization, neo-colonialism, sexism and economic injustice, just to name a few. This kind of frat stunt, plays right into the hands of the right, so I guess these idiots just don't get it. What a waste of energy and probably, some tasty whipped cream.
by did anyone notice this
Anarchists love Medina, anarchists are not haters. Yall are talking smack, these pie people they are pranksters, stirring up a bees nest (oh wait sorry... for the young folks...bees were bugs that flew around and polinated plants, back when there was non gm food substitutes, there was this time when stupid american industrial consumption hadn't ruined the environment). with cream and crust. Anarchists would have given her a hug and then talked about their feelings using I statements like, "I feel like my voices isn't heard when all I hear is your voice on democracy now, I just don't have the same financial reasources as you, could you spare some of your stocks?" That is closer to the real anarchist perspective. ask any anarchsit....
by 123
Perhaps the prank may have been somewhat childish, but the issues at hand are very real. Like when a kid corrects a lie, embarrassing the parent, Medea and you, her many minions have to own up to the lie.

While big name NGOs like Global Exchanges push for a green economy can be a positive thing, we have to also look at the imperialist implications of the continued reliance and imposition of a capitalist political economy. Today, more than ever, these green capitalists and laissez fair-weather liberals perpetuate and legitimize the violent imposition of the neoliberal economy around the world more so than even the right wing fascists. Allow me to elaborate. While in the global north "sustainability" or "sustainable" development has come to be defined merely as an energy efficient car, an organic bar of soap, a composting bucket, a solar panel, or a rain water catcher, the global south continues to define sustainability as one simple thing: SURVIVAL. While the greening of America, is absolutely a step in the right direction, stopping at that has increasingly become a grave threat to the self determined survival of indigenous people and people of color around the world.

These green products and life styles are every day less and less accessible or appropriate for the communities throughout the global south and to poor communities in the global north. In seeking the commodification of sustainability as the only solution to global economic, environmental and human disparity, in essence what is achieved is the commodification of survival. If you can afford to survive greenly, then great for you, but if you can't afford to survive at all, then too bad, because the greening of the American political economy is not happening fast enough to address your need for survival. This supposedly "green" world-view imposed by the non-profit industrial complex, is indeed excluding the vast majority of the planet, by creating a guilt free lifestyle for John Q. Liberal, along with the bells and whistles of peace, love, tranquility and comfort. You see, it has become a lot more about "guilt free" and "comfortable" than about, appropriate, accessible and truly liberating. The truth is, that this guilt free peace, love, tranquility and comfort, which is purchased and neither earned nor struggled for in the global context, is actually terror. The reliance on capitalist greening as the only solution is the legitimization of the neoliberal political economy in a much bigger way that even the neoliberals themselves. Again, greening is a decent step in the right direction, but to purport it as revolutionary or worse yet, the only step, is actually quite counter revolutionary and even racist at its core. Green-washing.

How many people have been to a Global Exchange Green Festival? I have. How many brown or black people do you see at the Green Festival? How many indigenous people did you see? How many products did you see at the Green Festival that were a) Appropriate for b) Accessible to and c) Affordable for communities of color in this country, immigrant communities, or indigenous communities around the world? How many of these products available at the Green Festival are available in brown and black groceries stories? How many are only available at predominantly white and bourgeois communities? Does the type of Fair Trade that Global Exchange engages in really contribute to the autonomy and ultimate liberation and self determination of the producing communities, or does it just further permeate codependencies on foreign intermediaries, which fill their pockets with the bulk of the loot and the clout of a supposed socially responsible capitalism? There is no dignity in NEEDING a foreigner to help you survive, but sharing and learning from one another towards an actual collective yet self determined liberation is something that we can work towards, without the help of the funding and media rat race of the NGO mafia.

More questions linger....
Why doesn't Global Exchange publish the profit break down of their organization on the web site, showing how much exactly they are keeping from the production of arts, crafts, and goods in indigenous communities throughout the global south?
Why doesn't Global Exchange publish the salaries of all their employees, in particular the founding members?
How about publishing the entire budget so we can see how much is spent on expensive hotels, meals, car rentals, office space etc, so that we can assess the sustainability of the organizations business practices?
While they're at it, why don't they publish photos of their meek homes and automobiles?
Why don't they show us where their kids are going to school, and how much that costs?

I think that these are the real questions that need to be answered, not the political orientation of the BWB, not the flaws of liberals and anarchists, and certainly not the flavor of the pie....
but rumor says it was banana cream.
by J
Never met anyone named "lol" before. Is that pronounced "ehl-oh-ehl" or "lahl"?

by 123
by ??
from above
The tensions and concerns about "commodification of resistance" being raised (pie-a-riffically) at the U.S. Social Forum resonate with me because there is an emerging conversation that is on the lips of many non-profit/ngo/union/civil-society staffers about how they have to spend so much of their time chasing or defending their funding by documenting how many services are provided or how many people they could get to a meeting that the reason that they got into the work gets lost. It ceases to be about how the organization can address the root causes of poverty or homelessness or sexual assault or human trafficking and becomes a race to see how much funding they can get and how to make sure that nobody does anything that could hurt the funding of the organization by making them look "too radical" or "outside the mainstream". Then the real struggles of people on the ground have to be turned into numbers to fit into boxes on grant applications: poof, your eviction/rape/immigration-status/underpayment becomes a commodity with a dollar sign. X number of people suffering equals Y number of dollars for a program that has to not offend the good hearted liberal manager of capital who might grant the money to pay someone enough for a part time position with no benefits, as long as they don't do anything radical.

This conversation is framed as the "nonprofit industrial complex" and INCITE! has published a book talking about how these dynamics undermine movements for justice. Please, seriously, everyone who does this hard work or cares about people who do this work, check it out!

Okay. Decorum has been violated and a beloved progressive organizer has been publicly shamed in a flamboyant way. The criticism was basically that the beloved organizer and her much respected organization were not being held accountable for their errors and contributions to destructive tendencies in the movement. The posts so far have mainly been slapping down the people who made the criticism for how they made the criticism, dismissing their concerns, and for their perceived ideology. Lots of posts refer to the virtuousness of Medea and Global Exchange and how hard they work, but so do the rest of us, in our day jobs and in our organizing. [Do check out that INCITE! book since it really highlights how power works in the movement, who gets resources, and who gets heard. The book and its arguments stand on their own and nobody is hiding behind them or their authors or INCITE! itself.]

So what is really going on here? Why do so many folks seem to think that anyone could be above being pied? Do folks mainly agree with the overarching analysis of the non-profit industrial complex above though?
Did the person above say to read the book by Incite about NGOs?

Okay, I did.

So what. They were an NGO that got cut off for having better politics than is generally acceptable in Nonprofitlandia. They wrote a book to challenge people in NGOs to understand the role they play. Hell, Monthly Review ran an excellent article on non-profitization over 20 years ago.

Then again, the same people who attack Benjamin for running a non-profit undoubtedly hate people who form political parties too... I guess everybody is full of shit except... the assailants who we know nothing about except their allergy to fact-checking.

The bottom line is that this was an open, participatory event where anyone could challenge Medea and the role Global Exchange plays quite openly.

But then they would have to back up their twisted claims with some facts, which they can't even bother to do here. When Medea points out how utterly full of shit they are, by speaking to her actual history and positions – who apologizes? Who says, "oops, we fucked up".


Instead they come here under anonymous cover and continue to spew garbage.

I didn't vote for John Kerry. Medea (or Chomsky or another 80 million people) don't tell me who to vote for. I've never voted. It's not my government.

But this is also the real world we inhabit and goddamn Global Exchange has been one of the most active, on target groups in the country.

It's really a shame that this is what these self-identified radicals think is "taking a stand".

Taking a stand is when Benjamin went to Lebanon and spoke out against the Israeli slaughter. That's exactly the issue Incite brought up in their book on the "non-profit industrial complex" and something I think someone as dependent on foundation funding as her should be DAMN PROUD OF.

Were these people anarchists? Hardly a stretch to assume that, considering their debating habits and the total lack of accountability they seem to expect.

Why don't you sign your name to the false allegations you made?

Why don't you have the dignity, after Benjamin clearly said she won't press charges, to stand by the claims you made?

You won't.

Because, like a dozen people beat me to saying – you are cowards and sectarians with no ideas save attacking those who do.

None of this is to say I buy the Global Exchange strategy or particular perspectives. But I'd take a liberal with principles and a backbone to the crab apple sectarians who brought the only physical altercation into the USSF down in Atlanta.


It's a total sideshow to the actual meetings, face to face communication and all around good event it seems the USSF was.... at least from the reports I heard.
by Jessica
Medea and all-

It is clear to me that the pieing was done to urge you in the strongest most public way possible to reflect on how over the years you have continuously failed at being an ally. Your statement does not show any of this reflection, which is seriously needed not only for yourself but also for those of us who share space with you in the movement for social justice.

Your response to the criticism leveled against you shows what a gulf there is between you and your critics. You were pied because of your consistent inability to be an ally that respects the leadership of those you are trying to work with and support. This is clear from the points the pie-ers left on their leaflets. Especially noting the grandstanding you did in Lebanon last summer shows how much you still need to learn.

We are all in a continuous process of development both personally and politically and all make mistakes, as many of us re-learned over and over at the USSF this week. As you gave an example of the National Planning Committee of the USSF I want to point out what I see as the most important difference between your response to this criticism and how they handled criticism over the last few days. They tried to be accountable, reflect and own their mistakes publicly. They did so by not only acknowledging their mistakes themselves but also by allowing someone to read a statement from the Arab people gathered at the forum about the USSF's action of excluding a Palestinian speaker on one of the plenaries. While your statement shows you are still failing to reflect, acknowledge and take seriously peoples critiques.

Instead of claiming that Andy Warhol was pied by the biotic baking brigade who emerged in the 90’s long after his murder in 1987, which has nothing to do with why you were pied, why don't you own your mistakes in Lebanon and Seattle? Why don't you try to own and learn from your mistakes at Global, which is still a majority white organization, with most Directors coming from places of privilege while much of the work is trying to educate people about situations in the global South. The kind of serious reflection and accountable behavior modeled by the National Planning Committee of the USSF over the last few days is what you desperately need, and what we need from you. This was made ever more clear from your response to the pieing. Please, take this seriously and grow, if this happens you will have more allies and our work together for another world will be made more possible.

by samiam
Medea Benjamin deserved it, she is a typical capitalist liberal who thinks that changing the system will fix it

fuck reform, we need revolution. You're welcome to think what you want and think that acts of property destruction (that are not acts of violence) are wrong. but when the time comes, which side will you be on, the police or the liberators?

Liberals as well as Conservatives are the passive response to politics.

anarchists take an active approach. We have the greatest thing in front of us at stake and people choose to ignore it. People choose to take an easy way out.

the easy way will kill us all, if you want this war to end today, you need to be active and you need to make a ruckus. having "social forums" won't bring the war home. We know what we need to do, and that is act. We have the ability right now to create a revolution, but alas most of the population would rather take the easy way out.

have fun with your reform politics, i'll see you in the streets.

fuck the fourth

by This makes me sad
I am saddened by multiple statements here that somehow the ultimate enemies are nonprofits. There are a number of references here that say that my having a professional job at an environmental nonprofit makes me less of an activist. I think the world of those who bust their butts for their beliefs and never get paid a dime for it. On my own time, I've done the same.

But I also greatly admire the many unsung heroes at nonprofits who do extremely important work for a decidedly low wage. As examples, here are the results of the efforts of the nonprofits I've personally worked for or donated to.

-- Dozens of animals and plants were added to the Endangered Species List, halting timber sales and developments and protecting a massive amount of wild acreage.
-- Thousands of low-income kids have been able to experience the outdoors for the first time.
-- The children of targeted activists receive financial assistance.
-- The expansion of an urban airport into the West Coast's largest estuary was prevented.
-- Threatened privately owned wetlands are now part of a federal sanctuary.
-- Young people are registering voters of color and helping the disenfranchised stand up for their voting rights.

These are things to celebrate, not denigrate. It's heart-breaking to me that to some, my life's work to make the world a better place is considered as much of a threat as corporate power, economic privilege, and the US military slaughtering people around the world.

by bour3
A real baker would never throw one of their own pies in somebody's face just to make a point. And that's not a proper pie either, it's just a plate of foam. You call a plate of foam a pie? You offend bakers universally.

Whence these so-called 'multi-culturalist' liberals, Soupy Sales Comedy Workshop? Not at all multi-culturally open when it comes to a variation on their very own culture. Silly rabbits, throw plates of foam at their compatriots because that's the full expression of their hostility toward their greatest closest foe. Meanwhile, no plates of foam for their real enemies who are trying to destroy their culture and kill them in large numbers.
by Hambone
Hi, this is Hambone.
Medea, i don't know you personally, but i would like to address you personally. Let me first say that i think that one of the later comments, by "bour3" here, hits close to the mark by ACCUSING the pie folks of not taking themselves seriously.
It was, after all, a pie. A classic gag.

So anyway, while you have participated in wonderful work and organizing efforts these past years it's clearly being said, in an explicitly playful way, that there is still something very distinctly amiss. It would seem that thing is cooperation with the "have nots" you work with. You do, by virtue of your professional position and social station, have power that many you work with "have not". You are being invited with this relatively artful hand-in-glove of humor and gravity to face some of the more difficult things many people and organizations are needing to or coming to face throughout our movements(s). I think to whatever extent you can genuinely validate this gesture with humor and consideration on your own part, that you will do us all a service and offer an example from a decidedly creme-fringed place of prominence.

As for the rest of you,


ps- there was a rumor the police were notified and that assault charges would be pressed if the baker was found. I hope that this is not true or that you will do whatever you can to undo this. It would only serve to cast this as much more a division than need be, following the Cops vs. The Rest of Us mythology of this movement and, once again, ignoring the message.
by reposted
Response to Medea Benjamin re: Pie Throwing

When someone who holds a position of perceived "power" in our movement attempts to address accusations against them, and does so without being entirely forthcoming, they only harm themselves, and it tends to give the impression — real or perceived — that they should perhaps be less than trusted in the rest of their answers.

more here...

feature at san diego imc, too...
While I share the critique of INCITE! and others here about the nonprofit industrial complex and the effect it has on movement building I think Global Exchange really is the wrong group to pick on and the people trying to make the point are the wrong people to do it.

For those that do not know, GX splits its staff between a large number of campaigns and issues so that organizers can add full time support to grassroots coalitions and issues sometimes spreading a staff of 45 over 10-30 campaigns at a time. Their staff are not union business reps of inside the beltway enviro conservationists. They are grassroots campaigners often required to raise a large chunk of their own salary and believe me, no one at GX drives a BMW or stays at the Four Seasons. I disagree with them about some of the direction they go with the "Green Economy" and the white guilt ridden Reality Tours but unlike other orgs they get a lot of their cash from their membership and not just large foundations. That money is not funds they are stealing from the grassroots, their members are a hell of a lot more reformist then GX staff and would not be giving funds to other more radical groups. I know, I was in a more radical group that the same member base was unwilling to support.

GX has been a place that has spun off national grassroots coalitions like US Campaign to End the Occupation and United for Peace and Justice, not that these groups are perfect, but they are made up of hundreds of local non-staffed organizations who needed the infrastructure that GX provided to come to organizational maturity.

The main point I make in defending GX is that they were at the USSF, an event I feel drew the line in the sand between organizations that support the creation and building of a broad based social movement led by women and people of color and orgs that are interested in just looking out for their own issue. With this in mind the attacks on GX seem pretty petty and not very well developed. If you were going to go after problematic NGOs the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth were both at the USSF (even though the employees that were there shared a similar critique of their own organizations).

As far as the rhetoric in these comments about the role of non-profits I believe it is a structural problem that is stifling our movement, but that is not the fault of the organizations, especially organization that work as support system for national and international grassroots campaigns. It is a problem that is best overcome by creative proposal for how we should reorganize our movements for justice, something I have not seen enough of. This is one of those issues where proposals for change are ten times more valuable then criticism about the problem. The 501-C3 was created to do exactly what it has done to our movement and just because people work within that framework does not mean they are bad, it just means we as a movement have lacked the vision to come up with new structures with which to organize ourselves.

I think there are some very valid critiques to be had of Medea and in particular CodePink's style. I agree with the comments above that sometimes when approached about issues of power Medea can be defensive and can come across as indifferent. I have had criticisms in the past of how CodePink prioritized their branding over the voices of veterans and military families at Camp Casey and in other anti-war spaces. I do not believe that it is always their intention to overshadow other voices but it is the end result of their aggressive tactics and frankly a better developed skill set when it comes to dealing with the press. This is a power and privilege that they should be aware of and working to overcome but are often not. On the other hand I also know that CodePink routes money to some of these groups that are in need of resources and tries to support them in a variety of ways that most folks do not know about. CodePink and Global Exchange are not organizations founded to organize impacted communities, but to educate and mobilize the middle class in America to stand up against militarism and work in solidarity with global south struggles. Anyone who has tried to organize the middle class knows there are lots of issues around power and privilege and that these issues need to addressed in the politicalization process and often surface in the style of CodePink organizers. Leadership is very tricky, and since the anti-war movement has failed to structure itself in a way where we can appoint accountable spokespeople the most vocal members of our movement have filled the vacuum for better or worse. We also have to remember that for the very large membership of CodePink Medea is an appointed and accountable spokesperson, no matter if we agree with CodePink or not.

As far the Seattle critique I feel that there has been a lot of constructive education about that incident and that Medea learned an important lesson about marginalization that both her and Kevin have not repeated in the last eight years. She was held accountable by the community via constructive intervention and debate even though what she said divided the anti-globalization movement for a long time. I don't really care about national electoral politics so I am not going to address the Kerry issue, but the pie throwers did not bring that issue up either.

I talked to Medea a few hours after this incident and got the sense that she was upset not because of a personal humiliation or the accusations against her but a deeper feeling of physical attack. She expressed a feeling trauma I have heard from people who have been recently mugged. I think we need to consider that the physical act did feel violent to those on the receiving end even if it sounds comical in the abstract.

In the end I agree that this may increase the debate about the role of non-profits but that debate is being sparked by the wrong people. The anarchist community, myself included, has not been able to organize ourselves out of a paper bag for 6 years with the possible exception of Direct Action to Stop the War in San Francisco 4 years ago, and organizers with Common Ground in New Orleans. It would be one thing if the anarchist community had active affinity groups, clusters and federations across the nation that were organizing coordinated national direct actions and interventions to stop the war and confront neo-liberal institutions, but we don't. The main people I see doing direct action against the war these days are wearing pink or military uniforms, not black. We are not organized enough to have anything for Medea to co-opt, so they attack her. The people that should be leveling the critique against large well funded non-profits are the membership based groups doing kick ass organizing with little to no resources like INCITE! who started the nonprofit conversation, or members of the Right to the City campaign or Iraq Vets Against the War. The conversation about high profile white spokespeople and highly resourced organizations has a lot more credibility coming from people doing base building organizing with impacted communities, but it seems they are too busy building power in their communities to throw pies. I look forward to the day when the anarchist community has organized ourselves so effectively into a national federation of organizing collectives and affinity groups that we can engage in this conversation from a place of real power, but until that happens we come off looking as childish and immature as the state of our organizing.
by Thodges
Why is the face of the person putting the pie in her face blacked out? When one is involved in criminal acts, they lose all civil rights, such as having to get their permission to use their likeness.
by Lumpen
Oh, you have to pie her again. Even if it's just on principle.

Look, I'm not American – I got this link from Infoshop, an anarchist news site, so some of the references go a bit over my head. It seems like some people, likely anarchists, pied someone in a leadership position.

Boo hoo. Sure, they could have been helping Katrina victims, or sold the pie to raise money for endangered orangutans, or used the plate to fashion a hat for homeless people. Instead, they chose to mock someone in power.

If you think the critique attached is baseless, or because you're not on first-name terms with the pie-thrower that you can't possibly take it seriously, then don't worry about it. The worst thing that has happened is one of your heroes got some pie in the face.

If you really believe "we" are all on the same side, maybe you can agree that it is even more important that those in leadership positions (whether through hierarchy or more naturally) are criticised, even more harshly than those in the opposition. Pies may be involved. Maybe you can throw a bigger pie back at an anarchist you think is getting too bossy. Or, if you're from a rich NGO, you could dump some champagne in their lap. That's the kind of tit-for-tat I think we can live with.

Anarchists are accountable to each other, to the working class and to the struggle for a free society. It's just how we roll. If anonymity troubles you, maybe you should examine the circumstances that make it necessary. Saying it's proof of guilt is just cop talk.
by lol
What are you, anarchists or aristocrats?

You think you judge, you attack, you are beyond judgement yourself?

Anarchists think the very concept of accountability is authoritarian.

Fine when you riot, but how often is that really happening?

Mostly what I hear is a permanent complaint, with precious little so show for it.

Why am I not surprised the most dick-headed section of the anarchist movement now makes an appearance to say "fuck all you, we anarchists don't care about anyone but ourselves".

Well, f. you too buddy. You need to get out more often.
by A Kobrin

Pain, frustration, anger, outrage, desire for revenge -- all those are a result of the continuing rape of our society. For those awake, it is it is one continuing outrage.

Delusion plagues the "Movement", however.

"'Cause baby, I'm an anarchist, You're a spineless liberal. We marched together for the eight-hour day And held hands in the streets of Seattle, But when it came time to throw bricks Through that Starbucks window, You left me all alone. "

"When it came time to throw bricks...." !!??

WHO decided it had "[come] time to" do THAT?

I cannot imagine ANY analysis of what is wrong in our nation and society that would include brick-throwing at Starbucks as a means of getting us closer to a solution or building an articulate Resistance. That tactic is merely an expression of rage: it is the result of immature and non-constructive frustration (understandable, but wrong) or of (worse) outright attempts to destroy the credibility of any resistance movement in this nation. Either way, you do great harm, and give "ammunition" to our enemies who still (you may recall) control nearly all media.

You may not agree with Medea's strategy or tactics, but she is one of the most active and outspoken critics and analysts of our destructive foreign and domestic policies and does highly visible work that reaches out to people with important messages that educate and inform -- unlike brutish acts of "rage"

However well-meant, your act diminishes us all.

"Rage" is more than warranted, of course, but, but must be channeled in useful directions. Attacking Medea only shows ego and maturity problems on your part.

There is (and must be) room for multiple strategies for multiple constituencies. Clearly, the "constituencies" most directly effected by the continuing daily class assault have less time and fewer options, but that does not negate the validity of other work. If NGO's have been to varying degrees co-opted, that sadly looks much like all our other institutions: unions, media, schools, healthcare and political parties. Unfortunately, money doesn't "talk", it screams.

We are where we are today (without large popular institutions capable of criticism, much less resistance) as a result of 50 or more years of accommodation. Do not expect that this mess can be untangled overnight by direct attacks by splinter groups.

Save your pies (if you must) for those actively doing the enabling of the hijacking of our nation. Medea, Code Pink and others throw virtual pies with their signs and visible tactics in the halls of Congress and elsewhere where the problems are perpetuated and the people are ignored.

Dislike her choices, if you will, but do not publicly ridicule nor attack those you feel are not as "enlightened" as you believe yourself to be. That does our efforts no good, just perhaps makes you feel "good" for a few minutes ("we showed her!"). Yeah. Let's organize and target real adversaries with real strategies.

By the way, even having a good analysis of the situation is not necessarily sufficient to being capable of creating or executing appropriate or effective strategies; it is merely a starting point.

Antifa salute to the anonymous pie throwers! I have wanted something like this to happen to code pinkerton for years. When one of their own gets a pie we are attacking people on the same side and don’t know who the real enemy is. But when one chooses a direct action tactic that the liberal crowd does not agree with throw them in jail! Point them out to the police. Over here master here they are. @ss kissing uncle tom NGOs gotta go!
by Gene
Terrorists feel the need to physically assault people. You must have low self-esteem.
by helicptr
People who fear change and loosing a cozy nonprofit gig throw around the word terrorist when they have no real argument. Just like a liberal.
by al
the thing about govts, both left and right, is they derive their power from violence and the threat of violence. the BBB points out that even people on the left, who seem to want to give talk therapy to those currently wielding the guns. It seems like they set up these boring rhetoric-filled forums to lull their oppressors to sleep, allowing them to grab the guns and force people to enact their enlightened vision of a green planet.
Perhaps pie throwing is violent, but if the police only had the power to throw a pie, would you pull over when they flash their lights?
In Benjamin's utopian world, who will be allowed to initiate coerice control over other's action? how will you enforce your "green" policies? with the power of the violent courts? or ?
by uradumbass
That is sooooo freaking lame. Rape and a pie to the face. You can't see the how ridiculous your statement is can you? I’m sure the pie throwers didn’t know that her Dr. told her she was not supposed to get pie in her eye.
There is love involved making and sharing a pie with someone, and disdain involved in putting it into their face. Allies who have gotten big-heads make better targets for such double-edged critiques than the powerful. Folks who cause pain and suffering deserve less ridiculous systems of justice where they can be charged and cross-examined.

It struck me as somewhat brave to do the pie-ing because it risked arrest and other physical and legal consequences. As much as Medea's supporters may be on "her side" of this incident, they probably wouldn't support her pressing charges, and Medea knows that. So, her good decision not to do so is strategically necessary, and shouldn't merit too much applause.

I hope that if I get (or have already gotten) so pretentious that someone decides to pie me, that they will keep it vegan and that I will be cool enough to take a "yeah you got me" attitude instead of whining about it. Unless they break my nose or something, in which case I will whine.

Medea said "It felt very violent. In fact, I am still shell-shocked. When people I don’t know approach me to say hello, I flinch and brace myself for a beating."

I hope that she doesn't feel she needs to keep looking over her shoulder for other pie-ers. I can't imagine why such a thing would be repeated (but who knows). There are many other sorts of risks that Medea and all of us take as activists all the time, about which we should probably be more concerned than pies. But I support her request for a lunch with her critics. Being open to receiving criticism and dialogue are super important.

To all the people who are getting so angry at each other in this debate -- chill out, enjoy yourselves, we're not in Guantanamo yet.
by fuck giving my name
lets face it , whoever pied her didnt have the balls to pie a real CEO bastard. while she may endorse goodygoody tactics, protect GAP windows etc it is her very nonviolence and defenselessness that made her an easy target for some half baked dumbass. sure it is "funny" to see anyone humiliated, if you are a sadist. why dont you do something she would be shocked by , but to someone who IS an oppressor??? because you know they would kick your ass. true warriors dont need an elderly woman as a target.
by Ha ha ha no thanks
You can always spot the FBI agent in any leftist meeting because he's urging for more conflict. They love that shit, don't they? The fact is, that sad middle ground of less-than-motivated people are exactly the kind of people we need to win over in order to win any progress, and doing this sort of stupidity gets in the way of that. In fact, it's sort of suspect to me that whoever did this doesn't know that. At least if we're going to live in the real world, where tactical disagreements are hardly worth this sort of foolishness, unless you're a control freak bent on control of the left's agenda. More RCP bullshit anyone?
by my 2 cents
Those who are using the violence rhetoric (old as stone, easy to spot from things called "leftgatekeepers," wow, I can hear those heads inflate), tell me what the history of those tactics are. Look at protest history, look at Palestine and a million other countries right now. The oppressors WANT violence. It gives them a chance to kill their enemies. Has that lesson of history and reality been so drummed out of you by conditioning?

What really scares those people is peace. What they call a "peace offensive," that's what the planners are scared of. But perhaps you're one of those planners.

Seriously, don't put it past them people. See past the violent words and look at the realities.

You might see an agent in sunglasses...
by provoked to comment
I was shocked and annoyed initially. Then I got angry. Then I looked at the photos again and noticed that it appears to be a white male pie-ing medea. As a woman who has been attacked, raped and violated by men - I find it repulsive that you chuckle and laugh after physically attacking a woman - whether in jest or ridicule or anger. White men tend not to experience violence in this society the way women and people of color do. We in the left have our political differences, and we should struggle them out in a principled manner. I have disagreed with Medea's political line, and probably will again - she is still putting her life on the line in the struggle to change the course of history. This petty in-fighting bullshit is a secret weapon of the Right. Congratulations, you made a huge contribution. Really intelligent, really going to have an impact on hundreds and thousands of people to get mobilized to do something about our government's atrocities by assaulting someone who is an ally - you and your tunnel visioned, knee-slapping friends are very bad allies. I hope the Masses never have to count on your strength and leadership - for anything.
by appearances
Just because "it appears to be a white male pie-ing medea," does not make it so.
by agent strawberry rhubarb
Thanks so much for pieing Medea!

It's about time the liberal oligarchs of Global Exchange got their just deserts. And enough with code pink and their dancing tu tu lameness at protests. It's embarrassing, ineffective and has watered down any remnants of what could have been a vibrant protest movement in this country.

These opportunistic/power based NGO's are becoming a huge problem against truly effective movement building by protest/issue hopping for their funding bodies. Real long term strategies of grassroots organizing and long term work with communities is irrelevant when the big bucks and funders come swooping in. Money talks, and if a campaign isn't working...well, time to move on to the next "hot" issue. Tired of global justice work and working with low income communities in Richmond? Try Afghanistan! Is that not getting you enough publicity? Then hook up with Cindy Sheehan! Is even Cindy Sheehan sick of you? Then move onto something else!

Never mind if low income communities are left in the lurch and abandoned or corporations are given a stamp of approval so that they can declare a "victory" so an organization doesn't have to lose face for abandoning its demands. Sounds like it's time to side with business!

Take a look at Danaher's new ventue in "Green" capitalism.

Maybe he should get an organic tofu cream next? Or maybe some of the liberals writing in defense of Medea think spending millions and building a "green" office space for "businesses" and "non-profits" is more important than providing housing and food for the homeless and low income communities. Afterall, all those poor green capitalists need somewhere to have "priority hybrid parking" for their $20,000 prius cars...That will save us from Global Warming! YEAH!!!!!
by agitkid July 3rd, 4:14 pm
The following is a comment by agitkid on to Medea's response to the pie:

The very fact that Medea has the privileged access to this website to publish her response to an audience thousands of times greater than those immediately present at the social forum in Atlanta speaks volumes to the issues at hand.

Medea made the decision to magnify her indignation at her “it felt very violent” attack in order to further advance her political position. Perhaps very few people would have heard about this if she hadn’t chose to magnify the issue, and therein lies the root of the attack; namely, her privilege, her politics, and her middle class liberal analysis of the issues at hand (Medea “i can do no wrong, and i didn’t say that” Benjamin)

I agree that the attack was somewhat silly and childish, but it has opened the door to challenging her politics, in addition to her choice to broadcast this self-serving response to the real issues at hand.

There has already been some very well articulated responses to medea’s politics here:
(note “The Real Issues: by 123″ in response to Global Exchange)

and here
(note “It was a pie, not a prison sentence: by Baker in response to the Lebanon issue)

I’ll never forgive medea for her politics during Seattle, not to mention her self serving analysis of the events that took place. I don’t care if she disagreed with the actions of the anarchists, but to publicly attack and disparage them, let alone side with the police, even sarcastically, clearly tells me she cannot be trusted, and that her politics and her analysis represents an inherent racist and classist perspective.

Further, when she says “wounded people who lack the essential ingredients of a fulfilling life-a supportive family and community that provides a healthy dosage of love,” it is a window into this racist and classist world view that simply does not understand what it means to suffer the abuse of broken homes, poor communities, and the perspective that yes, some people are angry and come from places that medea doesn’t understand.

I am sure she can understand intellectually what poverty and oppression looks like, but she doesn’t know how it feels, clearly demonstrated by those words. She doesn’t understand that people in positions of power like herself are targets when they are clueless to their own power and self-righteousness. Even if some of us didn’t grow up in broken homes and poor, we have to be open to understanding deeply the affects of oppression and racism.

Trying to paint yourself as a clueless victim here is precisely why you were targeted. There is a lot of anger out there at self-appointed leaders like yourself that act as though they are always the victim and they can do no wrong.

If I had been in your shoes, I would have laughed it off and moved on. I wouldn’t have published a self serving response to an audience thousands and thousands of times bigger than the 100 or so present at the moment.

I would suggest some humility and reflection at the deeper issues.
by iustaluv paaaink
lets stop kidding ourselves. you can always tell where a person stands by their colors. i have had a pink raincoat for trillions of years and now i am ashamed to wear it. yuk, pink used to be my favorite color. you can always tell a liberal in the crowd.( i don't want to use the word pig or sow, afterall what is wrong with pigs, you know the ones with four legs.) they are always telling us they think should be done. most people won't join an organization full of liberals, we know who lives off of our blood, sweat and tears. codepinkers have no idea about what it means to get up at 5:30 every morning and take two buses to your job at the dry cleaners for 10 bucks an hour. oh, yeah, cleaning all those pink silk shirts that some one makes four cents an hour to put together in some sweatshop. " can some please pass the pink champange. i need a glass. i feel so violated"
by Camille
I had this VERY complain about Benjamin years and years ago when I was still living in SF, what took the Bakers so long to do this? Oh Bay Area activist types, I have long since run out of tender feelings for you. So smart, yet soooo lazy.

by Alegre Maoista
"Unite all who can be united."

Quite a time we live in when the RCP is trying to get people to work together with their eyes on the prize, liberals like Medea are actually tougher than the so-called anarchists and we're going into the sixth year of a declared permanent war against whoever.

Get some damn perspective people.

If you don't think we're doing enough, then show us how and teach.

Distorting the positions of Code Pink or Global Exchange is a waste of time. The four reasons they gave for attacking Medea (from behind before running away) are not the real issues with NGOs.

And on Seattle... here's what she actually said:

"Here is her statement from Z Magazine: "There has been some controversy about a quote from me that appeared in the New York Times Dec. 2. The quotation implied that I was calling for the arrest of those people who destroyed property in downtown Seattle during the WTO protest. I want to make it clear that the quote was distorted, taken out of context, and not reflective my true feelings. I did not call for the arrest of anyone, though I did point out the irony that the police were attacking nonviolent protesters while ignoring those destroying property. Do I wish the people causing the damage had been arrested? No. Would I have helped to get them out of jail if they had been? Yes. And I certainly apologize if the statement attributed to me has caused any harm to the anarchist community in general. Do I approve of the tactics that this particular group of self-described anarchists used in Seattle Nov. 30? Definitely not. That, not the distorted quote, is the real issue here. There are certainly occasions in which the destruction of property furthers the cause of social justice and helps garner public support, but this was not one of them. The Boston Tea Party is an example of the destruction of property a shipment of tea. When the Zapatistas rose up in 1994, they destroyed army posts and other symbols of a repressive state. Members of the religious community in the United States have destroyed weapons of mass destruction to express their profound moral opposition to war. And forest activists have destroyed the engines of bulldozers to prevent the clear-cutting of old-growth forests. "The list of tactically thoughtful and politically principled property destruction goes on and on. What these acts have in common is that they were the result of a long process of working with and gaining the support of the affected community. This was not the case in Seattle."


Not exactly what the dopes who launched this attacks would have you think.
by a baker
First thing i want to say is that this action is not a violent assault. Its a pie, for christ's sake, not a bomb. Its also not an action that means to say medea is an unforgivable enemy. Rather, its a good-humoured, but serious call for attention to someone who needs her ego checked and needs to understand there are a lot of people who have a problem with her speaking questionable politics on behalf of a lot of people.

Medea has denied almost all of the charges against her. I cant speak to all of them, so I will defer to others to clarify some issues. But I can speak to the charge regarding Lebanon. I was there too, watching Medea standing in front of the cameras waving her pink flags while dozens of cars packed with aid drove toward Southern Lebanon, flagrantly giving the finger to israel's no driving rule. These are the same people who issued a call for an immediate ceasefire and an unconditional Israeli withdrawal. Its not, as she claimed in her defence, some random insignficant group of people. Most of the solidarity organizing was happening though this one coalition of Lebanese and International activists. It had thousands of volunteers, and was the main party resposnible for distributing a lot of the aid to the displaced in Beirut. I shall note that Medea also distributed her own version of aid in Beirut: ice cream and balloons to kids, accompanied with a media campaign and press release highlighting her goodwill. Too bad her press release mistook Lebanon for Iraq. I guess its all the same, right?

Anyway, it was a call from this group that Medea half-heartedly supported. Medea said she would support a ceasefire, but could not endorse an unconditional Israeli withdrawal from Southern Lebanon because it is something the American Left wouldnt swallow.

This was discussed among many of us in Lebanon, and we had to explain to our lebanese friends that this Woman in Pink represented maybe the Democratic perspective, but certainly not the American Left as a whole. It is this experience, along with MANY other stories I have heard that makes me think a little sweet banana cream pie in the face might help Medea take her ego down a few notches, and try not to push such bad politics on the rest of us who are trying to hard to forge real alliances and networks of solidarity.

As for medea's kind heartedness in not pressing charges, truth is the pier was chased and the cops were called. There must have been a dozen cop cars out looking for the pier. Luckily, the pier got away otherwise he/she too would be doing jail time. Medea doesnt know the pier's name. That is why she cant press charges. See how it all gets a little twisted...?

I am not your typical pier. I have never done an action like this before. And I am a firm believer in having a diverse movement that has many different tactics. I admire Code Pink for many of their efforts, and I know you each have good intentions. But I joined this action because I thought it was a creative way to open dialogue about these issues and to let Medea know that she needs to reflect on her words and actions more deeply.

As for Global Exchange, again, I know the intentions are good. But the organization also needs to refelct on some of its programs, especially its political tourism programs that more resemble a for-profit model at the expense of the global south than what they call solidarity.

Please stop making broad assumptions about "anarchists" and use this moment to address the serious issues. Medea and GX are not the only ones whose attention the bakers are hoping to grab. Lets open this up and have substantive dialogue about what this movement's politics are hoping to achieve.
i think the Political Right is LOVING this.
can we please all remember it is not about US, but rather about the work that needs to be done?
there is no better way to conquer than divide.
we will never all agree on everything - but we do on the Big Stuff - like ending this insane, illegal and immoral war, stopping global warming, ending insane corporate power...- any many tactics will be needed.
can't we do what most families do and agree that we won't always agree but continue to love and feed each other?
i personally think this action was cowardly, Medea is an amzingly brave and consistent woman, and that violence is never the answer - did anyone watch the MalcolmX clip above?
(thanks for that) d
by Jon in seattle
I was there in Seattle near Nike town when I saw people locking arms around Nike trying to protect the property of a corporate criminal, exhorting people from a loudspeaker not to break things.
People paid for coffee at Tully's while others smashed Starbucks on the same street. Not saying Tully's is anything special, but the people that did property damage definitely had political criteria for their actions. Medea trying to defend the corporations was bad enough - whatever stupid shit she may have said later, it was clear what her politics where.

She called for people to vote for Kerry in 2004, as a proponent of the "safe states" strategy inside the Greens. This meant: don't run for election if you can actually threaten the outcome. A couple of years later she was speaking at a Code Pink book tour, talking about how awful both parties are, I asked for her to explain why she supported Kerry. She _denied_ that she did so, to save face in front of her adoring fans.

I've had reports from Camp Casey on how Code Pink/ a clique of middle class white women monopolized power. I wonder if this had something to do with Cindy Sheehan's disgust with the US left.

Medea deserves the pie.
by charles
Medea's greatest faux pas was to undermine greens and peace activist who were pushing for a strong anti-war candidate. In rallying to concede the race to kerry (or whoever the dems selected), she weakened the standing of both the green party and the peace movement.

Medea has a talent for getting into media reports as the voice of this or that movement. When one acts a spokesperson for a group one must respect the decisions and perspectives of that group. No one can speak for the breadth and depth of varying perspectives that compose a movement. One must be clear in public statements, and in addressing the press, that one speaks for oneself or for ones organization only. I hope that medea, in her humblle reflection, will refrain from speaking for the left, for greens, for the peace, environmental, social justice or anti-globilization movements.
by Maria Concepcion
Regardless of the merit of your claims against Medea Benjamin, your pie antic was stupid. Don’t you think most of us “on the left” aren’t aware of the pitfalls that you mention? Why didn’t you all stick around to vent after the pie was thrown rather than run? Is this your example of true democracy and solidarity?

Channel your anger, lest you become one of the many who’ve left “the left” because the right welcomed their self-righteous destructiveness. There have been many, usually happens around age 36. Immature lost souls that they are.

Why did your pie smasher run off? Your disrespect for a human being committedly doing what she believes best is what smug spoiled brats do. Probably never worked a day in the fields for your food, have never gone hungry and have always had running water. Go back to pre-school and learn some basic social skills. Then you can start to persuade the rest of us. Or are the many activist groups that come and go just for kids who opt-out once they burn off their defiance and parental antagonism?

Yes! Be creative, but persuasive and respectful. Your outrage, if well-founded, is more than wonderful, use it wisely. If you spend your time throwing dirt (or pies), thinking this will solve our planet’s miseries, you’re just losing ground and deepening the fault lines for the left to falter completely yet once more, including you. Criticism is essential to significant results. When it builds, not when it bullies. Why not confront Medea at this world forum and film it for us all to see her response? Instead, you chose to hit and run.

By the way, do any of the banana cream bakers know any history at all? Or said another way, how irresponsible to compare Code Pink to Pinkerton thugs.

(All text in quotes is from Wikipedia’s article on Emma Goldman).
“In New York City, Goldman met and lived with Alexander Berkman, who was an important figure of the anarchist movement in the United States at the time. The two became lovers, and remained close friends until his death in 1936. With the influence of anarchist writers such as Johann Most, Berkman and Goldman became convinced that direct action, including the use of violence, was necessary to effect revolutionary change (see propaganda of the deed).
Goldman and Berkman were consumed by the Homestead strike, where the strikers had seized the Homestead plant and locked out management. After Pinkerton detectives attempted to take back the factory and expel the strikers, a riot broke out, causing the deaths of several men. Berkman, with the support of Goldman, decided to take violent action in support of the strikers by assassinating the factory manager, Henry Clay Frick, in retaliation for his role in hiring Pinkerton detectives to retake the factory.”

See any analogies below?

“While Berkman and Goldman had believed they were following Johann Most's precepts for revolutionary change, they were soon disillusioned by their former mentor. One of Berkman's most outspoken critics after the assassination attempt was none other than Johann Most, who had always, noted Goldman, "proclaimed acts of violence from the housetops." Yet in Freiheit, Most attacked both Goldman and Berkman, implying Berkman's act was designed to arouse sympathy for Frick. According to the historian Alice Wexler, Most's motivations, may have been inspired by jealousy of Berkman, or possibly by his changing attitudes towards the effectiveness of political assassination as tool to force revolutionary change.
Goldman was enraged by Most's accusations. She was not angered by his implication of her complicity in the assassination plot, but by Most's criticism of the utility of the assassination, as well as the suggestion Berkman was attempting to arouse sympathy for Frick. Goldman promptly demanded that Most retract his criticism or prove his insinuation that she and Berkman were insincere in their revolutionary motivation. When he refused to reply, she carried a horsewhip to his next lecture. After he refused to speak to her, she lashed him across the face, then broke the whip over her knee and threw the pieces at him. She later regretted her assault, confiding to a friend, "At the age of twenty-three, one does not reason."

She later regretted it, but do you think Emma would have smashed a pie in someone’s face and run off? Everyone knew it was Emma, and she chose a whip, not whipped cream.

“After two years, Goldman and Berkman left Russia, having witnessed the full results of the Bolshevik rise to power. Her time there led her to reassess her earlier belief that the end justifies the means. Goldman accepted violence as a necessary evil in the process of social transformation. However, her experience in Russia forced a distinction. She wrote: "I know that in the past every great political and social change, necessitated violence.... Yet it is one thing to employ violence in combat as a means of defense. It is quite another thing to make a principle of terrorism, to institutionalize it to assign it the most vital place in the social struggle. Such terrorism begets counter-revolution and in turn itself becomes counter-revolutionary."

I’m not saying pie throwing equates to an act of terrorism, but no matter how much attention they call to an issue, violent acts of any degree, and particularly assaults on the person, are ultimately harmful to our hopes for a world with peace and human dignity. Plain and simple. Need examples of solidarity that have brought permanent changes to the power structure?: Ghandi, MLK, Mothers of Plaza de Mayo. In Emma's time it was shortening the work day to 8 hours. Maybe just promoting a 35 hour work week might not seem revolutionary today, but think of how that would contribute to children, education, health, love and to organizing efforts. We just might have the time to bring about some radical changes with lasting and peaceful solidarity. Now that's revolutionary. Anger is a legitimate emotion that teaches us, but violence needs to become so stigmatized, that all humans, everywhere, show it no tolerance in any form, by whatever means. If not, we'll just keep going in ever-widening circles of poverty, militarization and de-evolution, destroying our species and our habitat, until one day the planet goes on its merry rotating way without any naked apes, because they chose hostility and attack on each other rather than solidarity and cooperation. Remember the Amazon native at the first Environmental Summit in Brazil who shamed the "advanced" society attendees with his sable-machete dance? His powerful message was more than any Wall Street Ad agency could have dreamed up, yet he didn't physically assault anyone. This is more creative than pie smashing, and isn't physically invasive: Next time do a mesmerizing "Shamen you" dance in which you energize the person to see things your way. Give them the opportunity to respond. Like it or not, we're all related, and all evolving or self-destructing together. Engage people creatively, and instead of whining about the pieces of the media and funds pie, let's dance and cooperate, not co-optate, so we can create and collectively enjoy the Whole Damn Pie Shop. Then and only then, those who want to celebrate in a free-for-all pie slapping World dance will have earned the right to use food to pie and be pied. And Bakers without Borders will likely, by popular demand, have the funds, the people, and the privilege of baking ALL the pies for this worldwide ego leveling experience!

by Not Maria Concepcion
"By the way, do any of the banana cream bakers know any history at all? Or said another way, how irresponsible to compare Code Pink to Pinkerton thugs."

Lady, you have no sense of humor. I'd get that checked out.
by Maria Concepcion
Who'll check out my nil sense of humor? You, who apparently have zilch sense at all!

Code Pink might not be perfect, (are you?), but actually corporate Pinkerton projectile throwing goons have more in common to now I dare, now I run into anonymity pie tossers.

Believe it or not, I still like the Bakers, but there's a difference between rebel inspired great burlesque and ridiculously stupid actions.

And if I really thought you had no sense, I wouldn't answer.
by Malarkey
The whole pie-in-the-face thing is stupid. It accomplishes nothing. Is there a chance that the people involved with "Bakers Without Borders" might have accomplished more simply by walking up to Ms. Benjamin and talking to her? I guess they think it's funny because it's an easy way to get attention. Babies.
by indeed
Noticing that the only approval of this action is coming from not "radicals" – but anonymous people who won't sign on in support. It's a shameful action, really, that distorts the real record of Global Exchange to make a half-assed point obout the dangers of NGOs.

Well, NEWSFLASH – most people active in left-wing politics are well aware of this. Of course, the people who denounced Benjamin (for the wrong reasons) would also denounce anyone who formed a socialist political party, voted for anyone, or did anything tangible.

Instead, they hold up some mythical purity which they don't back up with suggestions. They say this attack was to "start a discussion" – well, here's your discussion and it's pretty sad. You can't admit you got her record wrong on the most important items and instead of actually writing something or putting on a presentation at the USSF, you resorted to theatrics that got played out a decade ago.

Maybe we should all start attacking anarchist events. You know, showing up with BBQ at their vegan potlucks. Wearing sharp clothes to their punk shows and acting nice and open-minded at their mutual admiration societies.

Here's some things for the anarchist busy bodies to deal with:

1) Bound Together books sells materials in support of Pedophilia. Why? Because some of the core members are pedophiles who "block consensus" on removing it. They would rather enable child abuse and teen street prostitution than challenge their own collective members.

2) When the ELF was set up by the feds in national raids, over half of the defendents snitched on the others. This likely sent innocent people to jail.

3) In the six years since the start of the war, with the exception of the broader Direct Actions in SF at the very beginning, anarchists have contributed almost nothing to the antiwar movement except adding large doses of anti-communist sectarianism.

4) The state is stronger than ever, not weaker.

5) Anarchist media is totally unaccountable to any larger movement, and affluent white males continue to dominate and control the discussion of "anarchism as anarchism".

6) Propaganda of the deed style actions, such as this, confuse personal attacks with political dialogue.

by marc
I'm an anarchist and an active Green in San Francisco who has known Medea for some time and not hesitated to express my criticisms. Yes, we've done work at the ballot box which has changed people's lives, min wage, police reform, community planning, etc. It sure beats protesting or doing sectarian ultraleftist political wanking; it is a step.

In response to the calls for a dialogue, I've asked Medea if she'd be willing to participate in a respectful public discussion on the relationship of the roles of nonprofits and the role of volunteer activists.

Let's see if she responds.

by John Thielking (pagesincolor [at]

I am dismayed that a pictorial representation of someone being smothered with Chloroform would be shown here along with a statement supporting the pie throwers. Chloroform is an anesthetic that is most often seen in movies being used by the killer on his victim to render the victim unconcious just before he hacks the victim to pieces. How that equates to any form of constructive revolution is beyond me.
by from in Tampa
Listen now:
Copy the code below to embed this audio into a web page:
07/03/07 WMNF Evening News Tuesday
By Mitch E. Perry

Last night on the Evening News, WMNF aired 2 different stories on the first ever U.S. Social Forum, which ended Sunday in Atlanta.

One of the many thousands who was at the event was Medea Benjamin, perhaps best known as the leader of the anti-war group Code Pink.

For years before that, she has been a social activist for a number of causes based in San Francisco, where she has led the social-justice group Global Exchange

In a short essay written on the website of the progressive, however, Benjamin writes that she was pied in the face by a member of a group calling itself “Bakers Without Borders” - with photos depicting the’ pie-ing’ on the website of WMNF spoke with Medea Benjamin to get her reaction to the incident, and what it means for those on the left who disagree with one another (roll tape#1 o.q.”on the inside”)

That’s activist Medea Benjamin, describing her thoughts and emotions after being pied in the face by another activist at the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta. To read why a member of Bakers Without Borders chose to physically attack Benjamin, go to the website of
by Mattilda AKA Matt Bernstein Sycamore (repost)
When a friend of mine mentioned that Medea Benjamin, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace (or Global Trade-Off and Code Pinkerton, as someone posts on San Diego IndyMedia), got a pie smashed in her face at the US Social Forum in Atlanta on Saturday, my first thought was: what a brilliant target! When I read the statement of Bakers Without Borders and Co-Optation Watch, the group(s) responsible for the action, I got even more excited.

"[We] demand accountability from a self-appointed 'spokesperson' whose actions further the commodification of resistance and sabotage our movement's sustainability and credibility. This person's actions benefit the NGO Industrial Complex at the expense of real democracy and solidarity." "[We] demand accountability from a self-appointed 'spokesperson' whose actions further the commodification of resistance and sabotage our movement's sustainability and credibility. This person's actions benefit the NGO Industrial Complex at the expense of real democracy and solidarity."

While the US Social Forum brought together over 10,000 activists from across the US (and around the world), and I'm looking forward to hearing inspiring (and aggravating) stories from friends who attended, there is also no doubt that the event served as a platform for an endless variety of "nonprofit" shenanigans, and I think Medea Benjamin is the perfect target for a critique of the nonprofit industrial complex (the way in which nonprofits have become a self-serving mechanism that facilitates the dumping of billions of dollars into projects that support the status quo rather than challenging it). While I will admit to sometimes being inspired by Medea's interruptions in the halls of Congress (there's Medea getting arrested again, I think while listening to Free Speech Radio News -- at least she's using her privilege for something useful), she's also a grandstanding, jetsetting, new-agey gender essentialist who certainly embodies the contradictions of the funded liberal left.

But the video of Medea getting pied did not leave me with the glee I'd expected; instead I found myself sobbing. I couldn't help but respond viscerally -- it didn't really look funny, it looked like an assault. Maybe it was the context -- before the pieing, Medea was not giving a speech, she was chatting casually with a bunch of CODEPINK supporters and then boom, pie in her face! Maybe it's that I don't hate Medea like I hate some of the other eminent targets of pieing, like San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who famously declared, "If you can't afford to live in San Francisco, then leave." Maybe it's that, since I found myself empathizing with Medea, I couldn't help wondering what a surprise pie in my face would feel like -- How much would it hurt, and for how long -- how deeply would it trigger my chronic pain? Would it be hard for me to breathe? And, most importantly, would it feel like an assault? Would it give me flashbacks of getting bashed, make me scared to be in public?

I don't necessarily have the answers to these questions, and I still think the action was well-executed and effective, it just brings up questions for me about the borders between violent and nonviolent direct action. While I believe in nonviolence, I don't believe in Nonviolence. What I mean is that my version of nonviolence is very different, much more situationally-specific than the version of nonviolence championed by the liberal establishment (to put this a different way, I do believe that there are legitimate arguments for both "nonviolent" and for "violent" resistance).

Of course, it's possible to see almost every action as either violent or nonviolent, depending on the circumstances and who gets to decide. While mainstream media (and liberals like Medea) would like us to think that property destruction is violent, I think that property destruction is the ideal nonviolent action (the more property, the better), as long as no one is injured. Of course, someone else might respond that property destruction, even when no one is directly injured, still terrorizes people, causes long-term traumatic effects.

I don't believe that if a cop or a basher or a battering lover smashes you in the face with a baton or a fist or a brick, it is violent to respond in any way that gets you out of harm's way. It may be more violent not to respond. This is not as simple as self-defense; I think there is also such a thing as self-offense.

I don't know exactly where all of this leads, I guess it's just what came up for me when I watched Medea Benjamin get pied. Strangely, I find myself nervous about expressing empathy for Medea, as if articulating a radical politic should not involve such messy or conflicted emotions.

In Medea's response, she does echo some of my thoughts about the potential violence of pieing (and, to her credit, welcomes discussion), but she also spins some grotesque liberal garbage, such as when she says, "I actually feel sorry for people who harbor so much resentment and come from a place of such anger."

Anger is where resistance comes from, last time I checked.

Mattilda blogs at


COMMENTS (edited):

Who knew this pieing would cause such a stir that Mattilda herself would be blogging about it!! Those Bakers really did their job.

The pictures were graphic. I couldn't view the video because I don't have the software, but there is that still frame. And sometimes the fingers on her back are cropped out, but in some you can see the person with their hand pressed into her back to create resistance... and that connection in that space is very terrifying for me.

But this person-to-person open violence, captured on film as a single moment in time, does it falsely appear more powerful or more violent than what it speaks out against? What if we could bake all the hidden, silencing violence of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex with Medea and others pressing their hand into our back, and capture it in a single frame of film?

Nick | July 3, 2007 7:40 AM


Nick, thank you for that beautiful question:

"What if we could bake all the hidden, silencing violence of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex with Medea and others pressing their hand into our back, and capture it in a single frame of film?"

Love --

mattilda a.k.a. matt bernstein sycamore | July 4, 2007 2:22 AM
by oll's fair
So you don't care that the specific allegations made are bullshit – and that there's something gross about making an object out of someone at an event where everyone can actually sit and talk like human beings?

Who do you people think you are?

You come off like Manson dopes with activismist vocabulary.

Look around you!

What are you actually doing that justifies your sanctimony?
by New Orleans Voices For Peace (gordonsoderberg [at]
You have served the movement well by delivering notice to the democratic party that their game of eating from the table of the peace movement is over with a Just Dessert. Having seen what CODE PINK has done to undermine every event I've been to and I've been to allot. The first being at Camp Casey from Day One. They came in to help her " Organize" and then proceeded to isolate her from the veterans and attempted to cause trouble with the police and embarrassed and control the Veterans who were in true solidarity with Cindy, and still are! When I left Camp Casey in the Veterans For Peace Impeachment Tour bus for New Orleans on September 1st, 2005. We took Cindy as far as Austin for the first stop on her bring them home now tour, where Code Pink and other leaders in the peace movement used her for the next year to get control of the congress, I had watched the Camp moral drop because Media's CODE PINKOS manipulations and control issues and I knew that before long Cindy would kick them to the curb. It was a clear case of Infiltration. But we had real work to do in providing relief for the people effected by hurricane Katrina and the Bush league response by the federal government. It took Media about a month before she was in Another camp I help set up with Common Ground doing exactly the same thing she did at Camp Casey. She used Malik Rahim and the cooperative right up and until the election. Then she and the rest of her fellow PINKOS left. Leaving behind a wake almost as bad a s the hurricane itself. The Day after Cindy Called the Democrats out for their using the peace movement and that she was going to sell Camp Casey because she had spent everything on it and had to fall back a regroup, Media B said that Cindy had plenty of money! In effect accusing Cindy Sheehan as a Lier. Well, that was the last straw! For this veteran. Thank you for serving up this long over due notice and in closing i would like to say this to All you Cose Pinkos that are here trying to defend Media and you obvious bullshit. Are you not aware that the color "pink" is the most environmentally damaging color to make clothing from? Or was it more important to use it to make fun of the already silly terror alert warnings chart from homeland security? Marketing it everything except when it comes to the truth that will always prevail. Just desserts you earned it!
by Maria Concepcion
"What if we could bake all the hidden, silencing violence of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex with Medea and others pressing their hand into our back, and capture it in a single frame of film?"

No one is silencing you or pressing their hand into your backs.
A forum is for speaking not for pressing pies into someone's face.

What that frame would show instead is a bunch of nuts baking themselves into a fruit cake with such self-absorbed ferment that it rises full of hot air. Next frame: It flops.

by Innosanto Nagara
I think people who consider Global Exchange the embodiment of the "nonprofit industrial complex" should do their homework. I totally agree with the critique of the foundation-driven NGO world. But GX is actually one of the few examples of a group that is NOT majority foundation funded, and has been developing alternative structures from long before the "The Revolution Will Not be Funded" came out. Most of the people who work there are low-paid or volunteer, committed activists, who do their best with limited resources. Medea and others there have been super sucessful at their work, and as a result people assume it's just because they have lots of money. But if the "nonprofit industrial complex" analysis takes numbers that describe a wide range of organizations and funding sources called nonprofits in the US, and paints them all with the same brush, grave injustices will be perpetrated in the name of social justice. As was the case of the sanctimonious (and clearly uninformed) attack on Medea.
by stating the obvious
the point is exactly to attack effective work, not just "funded" work.

That's why they don't go after Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, Christian fundamentalist NGOs or any of a number of other real problematic elements.

No. Of course not.

They go after one of the few NGOs with a critique of capitalism, a large volunteer base and that has been exemplary at working with diverse, radical organizations.

That's why the cowards who did this speak for no one, and not one single person has gone on record (under their own name) in support of it.

Pretty shady, pretty lame. That Medea Benjamin totally toasted you fools in her response wins on both politics and style.

Anarchists. What a joke.

The number 1 anarchist institution in the bay is actually run by pedophiles. Hows that for "exploitation". Funny how you fools never have pies for them. Literal child rapers hide behind the circle@ and it is completely tolerated.

by pie is good for the movement
Medea can privately "listen" to someone's concerns until that person is tired of talking and claim to have an open door policy like your boss at work says. Also, when there is a group discussion or panel the facilitator who is selected ahead of time by the organizers has to be to the liking of the panelists, meaning that they will share the perspective of the panelists and will rule questions about power and privilege to be divisive or disruptive if the questions make the panelists uncomfortable. That is not accountability. And it breeds pies.

So a pie is a way of saying "You aren't listenning" but listenning to who and what are they saying? Medea has denied all accusations of the Bakers Without Borders and even ridicules the notion of "commodification of resistance" in the audio clip from WMNF above.

What if she did take the concerns to heart? How would she communicate that to the rest of the movement? What would a space need to look like in order to address the concerns about institutional privilege and accountability? The USSF was not claiming to be that space, but it did bring the movements together to renew and build relationships. Highlighting conflict and tension in the movement with pastry does not weaken us and a pie to anyone who would silence or demonize bannana cream dissent.
by char 007 (cmsmythe2002 [at]
Well, once again another chance at finding solutions has brought out anger, hostility and hate!!!! As a woman of color this is why I do not allow color and class priveleged folks to speak for I am not ranting and raving because none of you have to live in my "shoes" u can all go back to non-radical,activist lives and chalk all of this up to your "fight the system" years...I get to live it daily and I rarely see any of you in my hood except when it appears "politically correct" How easy it is to be anarchist, radicals, lefty's etc when you have nothing to
give up...The USSF was a great experience for me because I am a realist and went to seek knowledge and meet other like minded people. As usual it was attended by lots of white folks all feeling empowered and righteous!!! Hope the people of color and poor folk in Atlanta all will gain from so much political activity... As for medea you give her so much credit...hero and she-ro worship "she speaks for etc. you give her power to speak for you WHY!!!!! Hope everyone feels good that she got what was coming to her and all of you perfect people can go home and bake pies and throw them at people who really deserve them!!~! As for me I will continue to do actual work in my impoverished community and speak for myself!!!
by Fact-Checker
There are two things Medea wrote which need to be corrected.

#1 -- Willie Brown only CLAIMED to have been hurt when pied, and only after the fact, to retroactively excuse the brutal attack on Rahula.

#2 -- Her spin on Carl Pope's sellout of Headwaters is dead wrong, and that was only one on his list of offenses. He has added even more to the list -- the Sierra Club is now shilling for SUVs! -- and it's mind-boggling that Medea would be an apologist for him.
by VFPDissident (justpeace [at]
Violence, contrary to popular belief, is not part of the anarchist philosophy. It has repeatedly been pointed out by anarchist thinkers that the revolution can neither be won, nor the anarchist society established and maintained, by armed violence. Recourse to violence then is an indication of weakness, not of strength, and the revolution with the greatest possibilities of a successful outcome will undoubtedly be the one in which there is no violence, or in which violence is reduced to a minimum, for such a revolution would indicate the near unanimity of the population in the objectives of the revolution. ... Violence as a means breeds violence; the cult of personalities as a means breeds dictators--big and small--and servile masses; government--even with the collaboration of socialists and anarchists--breeds more government. Surely then, freedom as a means breeds more freedom, possibly even the Free Society! To Those who say this condemns one to political sterility and the Ivory Tower our reply is that 'realism' and their 'circumstantialism' invariably lead to disaster. We believe there is something more real, more positive and more revolutionary to resisting war than in participation in it; that it is more civilised and more revolutionary to defend the right of a fascist to live than to support the Tribunals which have the legal power to shoot him; that it is more realistic to talk to the people from the gutter than from government benches; that in the long run it is more rewarding to influence minds by discussion than to mould them by coercion.
Source: Vernon Richards, "Anarchism and violence" in What Is Anarchism?: An Introduction by Donald Rooum, ed. (London: Freedom Press, 1992, 1995) pp. 50-51.
... violence is the whole essence of authoritarianism, just as the repudiation of violence is the whole essence of anarchism.
Source: Errico Malatesta, "Anarchism, Authoritarian Socialism and Communism" in What Is Anarchism?: An Introduction by Donald Rooum, ed. (London: Freedom Press, 1992, 1995) p. 59.
by VFPDissident
A second hazard facing mass movements is the NGO-isation of resistance. It will be easy to twist what I'm about to say into an indictment of all NGOs. That would be a falsehood. In the murky waters of fake NGOs set up to siphon off grant money or as tax dodges (in States like Bihar, they are given as dowry), of course there are NGOs doing valuable work. But it's important to turn our attention away from the positive work being done by some individual NGOs, and consider the NGO phenomenon in a broader political context.

In India, for instance, the funded NGO boom began in the late 1980s and 1990s. It coincided with the opening of India's markets to neoliberalism. At the time, the Indian state, in keeping with the requirements of structural adjustment, was withdrawing funding from rural development, agriculture, energy, transport, and public health. As the state abdicated its traditional role, NGOs moved in to work in these very areas. The difference, of course, is that the funds available to them are a minuscule fraction of the actual cut in public spending. Most large well-funded NGOs are financed and patronised by aid and development agencies, which are in turn funded by Western governments, the World Bank, the U.N., and some multinational corporations. Though they may not be the very same agencies, they are certainly part of the same loose, political formation that oversees the neoliberal project and demands the slash in government spending in the first place.

Why should these agencies fund NGOs? Could it be just old-fashioned missionary zeal? Guilt? It's a little more than that.

NGOs give the impression that they are filling the vacuum created by a retreating state. And they are, but in a materially inconsequential way. Their real contribution is that they defuse political anger and dole out as aid or benevolence what people ought to have by right. They alter the public psyche. They turn people into dependent victims and blunt the edges of political resistance. NGOs form a sort of buffer between the sarkar and public. Between Empire and its subjects. They have become the arbitrators, the interpreters, the facilitators of the discourse. They play out the role of the "reasonable man" in an unfair, unreasonable war.

In the long run, NGOs are accountable to their funders, not to the people they work among. They're what botanists would call an indicator species. It's almost as though the greater the devastation caused by neoliberalism, the greater the outbreak of NGOs. Nothing illustrates this more poignantly than the phenomenon of the U.S. preparing to invade a country and simultaneously readying NGOs to go in and clean up the devastation.

In order to make sure their funding is not jeopardised and that the governments of the countries they work in will allow them to function, NGOs have to present their work - whether it's in a country devastated by war, poverty or an epidemic of disease - within a shallow framework more or less shorn of a political or historical context. At any rate, an inconvenient historical or political context. It's not for nothing that the "NGO perspective" is becoming increasingly respected.

Apolitical (and therefore, actually, extremely political) distress reports from poor countries and war zones eventually make the (dark) people of those (dark) countries seem like pathological victims. Another malnourished Indian, another starving Ethiopian, another Afghan refugee camp, another maimed Sudanese... in need of the white man's help. They unwittingly reinforce racist stereotypes and re-affirm the achievements, the comforts, and the compassion (the tough love) of Western civilisation, minus the guilt of the history of genocide, colonialism, and slavery. They're the secular missionaries of the modern world.

Eventually - on a smaller scale, but more insidiously - the capital available to NGOs plays the same role in alternative politics as the speculative capital that flows in and out of the economies of poor countries. It begins to dictate the agenda.

It turns confrontation into negotiation. It depoliticises resistance. It interferes with local people's movements that have traditionally been self-reliant. NGOs have funds that can employ local people who might otherwise be activists in resistance movements, but now can feel they are doing some immediate, creative good (and earning a living while they're at it). Charity offers instant gratification to the giver, as well as the receiver, but its side effects can be dangerous. Real political resistance offers no such short cuts.

The NGO-isation of politics threatens to turn resistance into a well-mannered, reasonable, salaried, 9-to-5 job. With a few perks thrown in.

Real resistance has real consequences. And no salary.
Source: Public Power in the Age of Empire by Arundhati Roy.
by watching the watchmen
Instead of throwing pies and denouncing the most left-wing of the NGOs, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) has worked to united various lower castes and OBCs into a movement that is growing exponentially through waging people's war.

In Nepal, the revolutionaries will work with liberals and traditional CP types as far as they can without being constrained by what they say is acceptable. Instead of blaming and attacking the "liberals"... they out organized them.

You say you want a revolution?

Me too, bud.

So show, don't tell. Instead of personalizing political problems, make new possibilities.

That's what the rest of us hope for from anarchists. Not this.

Medea isn't our leader. She's one person among many. I disagree with her liberalism, but ya know... she knows who the enemy is, more or less. I'm thankful she's there, active and creating new possibilities. She doesn't stop anyone from doing anything.

Learn from the revolutionaries in India who are actually threatening their government instead of whining about who isn't leading well.
by eat the state
To be fair, Medea Benjamin not only apologized after the Seattle 1999 screw-up but met with some of the black block kids about it. Why is it that when someone on the left screws up, cyber space is lit up with chatter, but when they make ammends they get no credit for it?

Also, I have no idea if the other accusations are true, but how credible is someone who can't site their sources?
by SPK
Rgarding Lebanon last summer . THe true face of many in the "Peace" movement is seen when the question of Israel's transgressions comes to the forefront. What will happen to "Code Pinkers " when the Iraq question is settled ???? What about Lebaonon, Gaza and all the other insanity going on ??????
by dt
Poverty level wages? Please.

In the 2005 990 for Medea Benjamin (found via Medea was paid $44k in salary. Code Pink has a budget of $186k, which no doubt does things like cover expenses of people going to the USSF and the like. Those are just two of the groups Medea is involved in.

Hopefully we can make our arguments about Medea without resorting to either lying or showing that we are out of touch with what 'poverty wages' really are.

And in the interest of full disclosure - I happen to make more in salary than Medea does, and I happen to owe a lot more than I'm worth (I'm one of the people who was suckered into a lot of student loan debt) --- but before my current job I was making $28k, and I wouldn't even begin to claim that was a poverty wage, and I live in a very expensive urban area (DC).
by luci
Hi, my friends have been quoting this for a while, and I can't find a super up-to-date statistic, but:

"The San Francisco median household income is $57,833 and the median family income, at $67,809 in 2005, is the third-highest for any large city in the nation.[41]",_California

Medea and Kevin combined must be making over $90k. And I just can't see how someone could afford to fly back and forth across the country that often on only $44k. It's not like someone could afford to buy a house when they are making only $44k these days, but my guess is that they have savings or something.

It's very hard for 2 people to survive in the Bay Area on ~$50k. I've done it, but it's not easy. You have to already be established, in terms of cheaper rent, knowing public transit and where to get cheaper prices on food, etc.
by Karl Marx
The only thing I wouldn't like about this stunt is that it gives yet more exposure to this publicity hound and her liberal NGO organization.

In fact, we don't want "Peace and Social Justice": we want SOCIALISM. And liberals like Medea Benjamin and crew are going to have to understand that they are not going to be leading this parade much longer, with their insipid milksop reformist "demands" that we "all just get along".

In no way or form can we "get along" with the Capitalist exploiting class and its minions. This is a class war to the bitter end.

Pie in the sky is what Medea Benjamin and her type are flogging. No thanks, lady. We don't need your liberal diversionary tactics, working in tandem with other Democratic Party operatives to derail all efforts at independent class politics. Revolution for us, thank you very much. You can get off this train anytime. There are plenty of people out there to work with besides you liberals. Divinding from you is not a problem. So by all means: follow through.

by Adam Smith
Then bring it on Karl, those of us who love individual freedom will be there to fight you.
by grasshopper
Still seething about Medea Benjamin's actions in 1999? You need to grow up and get some therapy. Medea Benjamin is not only an outstanding antiwar activist, she has invested her whole life trying to make social change. I have known her personally -- she doesn't elevate herself above others, but hangs with the all of the folks. Not only that, but she's continued her activism despite her reaching middle age and having a teenaged daughter.

This is country is deep in fascism and THIS is the person that you are focusing on? That is not only unacceptable, but it is totally lacking in solidarity. If you have a problem with someone, grow some ovaries and have the guts to talk to someone face-to-face.

I strongly suspect that this action is a COINTELPRO-like op. ---Open your eyes, people.---
by Adam (Trotskyite)
The idiotic "bakers" do nothing to reduce the unfortunate influence of bourgeois liberalism in the peoples movements. Nothing but rigorous debate and politics will expose reformist politics and politicians. This requires an articulate critique of Medea Benjamin's politics, something that a pie in the face seems to lack.

The "bakers" have victimized Medea Benjamin and have made her an object of sympathy. So much for defeating liberalism.

by link from
This incident is still newsworthy for some

USSF Bloggers

* Medea Benjamin Gets Pied At US Social Forum

not a right-winger, but the Tallahassee Network for Justice & Peace.
by roknich (roknich (at)
The problem with some people is that they don't understand the value of an enema:
the problem with others is that they don't know who the enema really is -:) David Roknich
by I liked the BBB, but this?
Despite attempts to portray it as such, this attack does not honestly appear to be about liberal politics vs. radical politics, or real movement building vs. NGO cooptation. The aggressive nature of the act, plus the embarrassingly thin 'political' claims made by the pieing group suggest that it may have been motivated more by the personal jealousies of some frustrated activists, directed towards the nearest visible target with a public reputation - one that she earned simply because more people listen to her, because frankly speaking she is a more effective spokesperson and activist than they are. Sadly, his kind of thing has become all too common. After years of working in non-hierarchical, anarchist settings, I was forced to come to the conclusion that most of the rabid attacks on 'authoritarianism' and 'centralization' and 'self appointed leaders' were motivated more by people's hurt egos, and not by a desire to democratize the process, simply because someone else had risen to positions of greater trust and moral authority within a group because they were BETTER at what they did, and worked HARDER at it. The sum effect of this can not be underestimated: rather than rewarding these people (i.e our most effective people) we punish them for their greater level of commitment and skills, and then try to justify it in political language. No movement can survive this way, if it keeps chopping off its own head and hands. The radical left's tolerance for self righteous assholism is a huge reason the left is failing from within. No matter what one's political disagreements are, this kind of immature crap has got to stop.
by another motivation
A more likely reason that the radical left is more prone to attacking itself than other groups is a tendency for some radicals to have overly high expectations for the results of their actions mixed with a trust for theories about impending collapse or revolution.

We didn't stop the Iraq war from stopping with hundreds of thousands in the streets so it makes sense to look at why the protests had little effect on public opinion at the time. Self criticism isnt bad in itself. Where it gets dangerous is when it turns into questions of why immediate tactics didn't result in exactly what they did in the past. Why did a black bloc action not result in large scale rioting, a fare strike not result in a working class revolution or a wildcat strike not spread to become a general strike? The answer is likely one of confusing social and political conditions in a historical example for those now and assuming an action that sparked something in the past caused it rather than just helping start something that social and political condition had already made likely. The problem is that many radicals base their lives around hopes for such things now. For some small groups and even some individuals this can play into cult-like thinking where one has to believe society will collapse since one has given up on things one wouldn't have if one knew the rest of ones life in this society is what the future held. Instead of revising ones views of the world to reflect social conditions here and now, a common response among the most radical of radicals is to blame others for having done things wrong (if only a protest/action were more Maoist, Marxist, Anarchist.... then the goals would have been achieved)

by Lisa de la Mission
The BWB folks claim Medea is a "self-appointed spokesperson," but don't notice that they themselves are a self-appointed star chamber. They pass judgment in secret, hand out sentence without even a prior announcement, and at all times seek to remain faceless, anonymous, and unaccountable for their actions.

Hey comrades, I'm not impressed. You seek to raise awareness about the problems with NGOs, but instead succeed principally to reinforce notions that radicals/anarchists (whether or not you consider yourselves as such) as being self-centered, self-righteous, immature, and of course... Total Fucking Hypocrites!

It's funny, you know? The very first posting of photos of your "action" seems to have been here at Indybay in San Francisco. That's not because you drove (flew?) to Atlanta all the way from SF, is it? All the BWB folks were from Atlanta, right? I mean, you didn't actually waste ridiculous amounts of oil, gas, food, and innumerable other resources just to drag your miserable asses out to Atlanta so you could slap a pie in Medea's face, did you? No no no... that couldn't be it. I'm sure you're probably all from Atlanta and you saw this as your one chance to pie The Evil One. Wait... you all live in a major US city? Don't worry, /your/ unequal and unsustainable resource consumption is ok, because you're working for Truth and Justice and Revolution.

In your list of mostly-unverified claims about Medea, you reference "community organizations in Guatemala." Did you consult with these organizations prior to acting -- at least partly -- in their name? Did they decide to send you to Atlanta?

And the "residents in Cuba"... you consulted with them, too, right? They thought this was a great idea?

You accuse her of "Exploiting and dominating movement space, resources, and publicity in the global justice and associated movements." But... ummm... isn't that, sort of, what you've done?

Let's get back to Resources and Privilege. White woman slaps pie in Medea's face. She has a team of white(?) males(?) helping her, protecting her, and recording the Glorious Action with digital photo and video. Pretty nice digital camera: Canon G7, their "new top-of-the-line model.... Loaded with Canon's latest and most advanced technologies." And the video -- 16:9, eh -- was that an HD video cam? Done up with Photoshop CS on a Mac.

And another thing... there was mention that it was a banana cream pie. Those weren't fair-trade bananas, were they? Oh, I forgot, you don't believe in fair trade because that only supports and perpetuates an unsustainable system of resource extraction and domination. You grew the bananas in your backyard. Did you ask the homeless mother with hungry children if she thought that was a good use of bananas? She doesn't even have a backyard. But your symbolic act is more important than her hungry children. Tell me, at least, that you went without a meal so that you could waste this one?
by Frank Snapp
Ms. Benjamin so deserved to get pied. She's definitely one of those celebrity leftists who's very existence in the roles that she somehow finds herself in reinforces the hegemony of top-down rule by celebrity, dumbing down and fascist worship of illusions of strong leadership. The only ones that lead are the PEOPLE themselves in all their gorgeous diversity in any meaningful change. Solidarity=change, not unity, which is fascism under a "strong" leader. No one is any more or any less important in this movement to overcome capitalists and corporate fascism. No single individual should be allowed to define any movement. No good has ever come from leader led movements. Historians, a bourgoisie addled by celebrity worship themselves in ivory towers since forever, would often beg to differ. Real revolutionaries know different. We are all treasures. Ms. Benjamin is a media hog and I suspect CIA. To suggest that she is CIA would be a rational assumption or topic of investigation outside the US; but inside the US most, especially on the tepid and nearly rightwing left here, haven't the vaguest clue what the CIA is or does daily, all over the planet, let alone on their own doorstep, daily, in the media. I don't really care. Her presence disrupts social equality by reinforcing celebrity worship, which is an intense toxin or even masse psychosis in US society, increasingly true on the left. Look at the rightward shift of management at KPFA and in general, which people should also remember is partially funded by NPR, which is funded by many horrible corporations, as well as by, the CIA. A chief job of the CIA is information management, or psychologic operations. And if you can't deduce that from analysis of the US media since 1981, you have brainwashing and ignorance issues in the extreme. Most on the left in the US have forgotten to follow the money, judge ACTIONS and not personalities and to understand the nature of power! Thanks.

I hope Medea gets pied until she starts empowering her sisters more.

Frank Snapp
by Loyal Fan

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