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

by Medea Benjamin
Reflections on being pied at the US Social Forum.
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]
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by Al Pieda
Sorry, Medea, but your blatant pandering to the cops and your strident denunciations of the Black Bloc during the Seattle WTO - - accurately documented by none other than Alex Cockburn, lest you've forgotten -- more than qualified you for this classic taste test. Moreover your shameless pimping of popular struggles in the global South via Global Exchange Inc. - - may be the textbook example of the odious role many so called 'progressive" NGO's continue to play in coopting and subordinating dissent in exchange for donor largesse. Eva Peron in Pink.

The only relevant question left to pose here is: Lemon Meringue or Coconut Creme?
by repost 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 barb
yay! just what I needed to feel more inspired by this movement: more infighting! I was thinking that something was missing from the forum. There wasn't enough divisiness. There was too much alliance building going on. What we need now is more hyper-dogmatic, single-minded, my-way-or-the-highway mindsets so that we spend time and energy fighting amongst ourselves instead of working together to achieve the goals we talked about at the forum. And if people call us snarky, if they say we undermine the movements we are trying to build here at the forum, we can always raise our noses in the air and say it's in the name of ideological purity. Never mind all the real work that still remains to be done --that WON'T be done because we are busy questioning the loyalty and criticizing the methodology and creditials of other activists. This is the way we will change the world: by attacking each other, creating divisiness and making everyone conform to our strict dogmatic ideology. Way to go Bionic Baking Brigade!
by blast from the past
Medea Benjamin is a faux-radical who first came to fame in 1999. While at the famous 1999 WTO protests in Seattle and mouthing anti-globalization rhetoric, Benjamin chastised protestors who took to the symbolic destruction of NON-CIVILIAN targets like Nike Town, while avoiding destruction of local businesses—clear evidence that this was far from “mindless” property destruction. After defending the property of multinational corporations, Benjamin subsequently issued pronouncements to the mainstream press that assisted in the creation of the “good protestor"/"bad protestor” dichotomy, later used successfully in years following by mainstream political groups to sedate popular protests and make them as planned, unsurprising, reflective of “good protestors,” and in truth, futile as possible.

Benjamin became a lead booster of the disastrous ABB strategy. In a widely circulated letter and in a petition, she denounced the candidacy of Ralph Nader and spread lies about his campaign’s alleged bankrolling by REPUBLICANS. But in truth, as a study by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics showed, Republican donors only made up 4% of the Nader campaign’s money, and such funds came from individuals, as the Nader campaign was the only one not to accept money from any political action committees or corporations. This 4% figure contrasted with the 25% of Nader voters in 2000 who were registered Republicans, and was less than polling data indicating how many Nader 2004 voters were Republicans. Moreover, according to the Center, Nader’s funds from registered Republican donors gave more money to Democrats than Nader.

Meanwhile, Benjamin embarked on a tour of hypocrisy and silliness. While embracing an ever hawkish pro-war candidate in her petitions and denouncing Evil Ralph Nader, the only high-profile anti-war candidate (David “.05%” Cobb doesn’t count), Benjamin simultaneously engaged in anti-war prank activity at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions that had little effect other than to invoke pity on the part of some observers and contempt from others for their showboatish, inconsequential nature. At the Republican National Convention, for example, Benjamin unwrapped an anti-war banner on the floor of the convention. Oooooooh. Medea, between anti-war banners versus NOT SUPPORTING A PRO-WAR CANDIDATE and HELPING BUILD A GENIUINE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT; we’ll take the latter.

Benjamin’s actions indeed helped demobilize the anti-war movement, which in February of 2003 had reached historic levels. But as its “leaders” increasingly succumbed to the ABB epidemic, they found the credibility of the movement severely hampered by their support for a pro-war war criminal. Rather than rectify this contradiction, they instead shut the movement down entirely. Thus there was not a single major anti-war march between the spring of 2004 and the election, and an anti-war, anti-occupation position, now supported by the majority of Americans, remained off the table during the Presidential campaign.

As for Benjamin’s showboating, Kevin Zeese had the following to say: “She can keep dropping her anti-war banners and playing her anti-war pranks. They’re entertaining, but people should remember that when it came to elections she urged people to vote for a candidate who said we have to win the war. She supported a candidate who said he would send more troops and could manage the war better Kerry’s mantra was the complete opposite of a peace message. The bottom line is this: when it comes to elections don’t follow Medea Benjamin, follow peace advocates who refuse to support war candidates.”

On the anti-war movement for which Benjamin served as a “leader,” Zeese added: “People like Medea Benjamin did great damage to the peace movement and I’m not sure it can recover. Her misleadership led them down the path of being taken out of the presidential race. How do you recover from that? The direction of the country is set during the presidential debate—especially on issues like war and peace. Half the country wanted our troops home, more than half thought the Iraq invasion was wrong, yet the peace movement, thanks to misleaders like Benjamin, was led into the Valley of Death for all movements, the Democratic Party.”

Recently, after the disastrous election results stemming from Kerry’s inability to provide any positive economic or political alternative to Bush, Benjmain expressed regret in the pages of the liberal-bourgeois ABB rag, The Nation, for her Kerry support. But rather than issue an apology to Nader, Benjamin instead promised to build the Green Party for the future.

Good luck trying to “build” from ruins, Benjamin. And as for your apology, well, thanks, two months afterwards, when it has a total meaning and influence of precisely zero.

Medea Benjamin, thanks for killing your political children and people who
looked to you for leadership. You make us all want to puke.
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 bakers not leaders
"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."

Are you a psychic as well as a movement leader? I bet these people have been active in struggle their whole lives and will never recieve the media or social attention that grandstanders like yourselve recieve all the time. Movements are made of people, not just charismatic leaders.

" 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. "

It is really charming when a middle upper class professional activist with a rumored great family life and a home owner, tries to speak down to people she really has no idea about. She should have had a better proof reader take a look at this "piece" to help her spin her measages better, 'let's be friends, what are you isolated loners with a grudge against your parents, come and work on my project so I can get more media face time...'
If I was in a position of power like MB, and people cared enough to pie me, I think I would take a moment to reflect on why people would feel this strongly about how I conduct myself. I personally wouldn't waste my time on pieing her, but I actually find it as a hopeful sign. Like maybe there is still a sense of humor in radicalism, maybe there still is some creativity and wow how did it take this long....
everything continues
by Voice of reason. were pied, not attacked. You may have a dry cleaning bill, but you do get to go home to your family.

There's a difference between pied and attacked. 800,000 Rwandans were attacked and left to the protection of your racist UN, those people of color died.

Get real Mrs Gomez.
Got to love it. One piece of disinformation after another. Medea Benjamin has real politics that can and should be criticized, particularly her support for John Kerry in 2004. But when anonymous people hide behind unsourced disinformation (that Medea ably dissected), you have to wonder who they think they are.
I guess they were forbidden to speak (they were not).

I guess anarchists had no right to confront Medea Benjamin to her face (they did).

I guess they already knew she personally went to Lebanon in the middle of an air war to oppose the Israeli attack. (who knows)

I'm torn between thinking this was the usual assortment of stupid anarchist tricks and actual Cointelpro.

Because when you hide behind a mask... who knows?

If you're not a pig, grow the fuck up.
by reality check
A pie in the face thrown from a distance is one thing, probably painless. To have a pie shoved in your face point blank is more like a fist, as Ms. Benjamin says. I believe her and think the pie folks ought to apologize for the pain inflicted.

Like most here, I have no love for Ms. Benjamin, her opportunistic politics, her support for Kerry in 2004 or her hollow pronouncements to build the Green Party. David Cobb's 'campaign' in 2004 cost the party ballot lines in about seven states. Benjamin's support for Cobb helped weaken the Greens substantially. But if she's a misleader, who are the fools who keep following her? I don't believe she has the power to silence the entire peace movement. She may be guilty of regressive politics and selling out to the Democratic Party but she doesn't control what others do.

The people who attacked her made several false claims about her.

They should identify themselves, apologize for hitting her (from behind before running away) and for lying about what she believes in and does.

It's really dumb. You should feel stupid for having done this.

Almost as stupid as voting for Kerry.

by pooterama pooterooni
"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."

uh, who's to say they didn't? you surely aren't so vain that you think they spent the entire social forum plotting the pie toss.

"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."

let's see... so you're not the problem, it's your critics - they must be "wounded" and "lacking." how utterly condescending. no wonder people want to pie you!
by responding
Actually, this was the second attack on Medea. The first one was foiled.

So the little crew of fuck-up scamps came back again, attacked a 60 year old woman from behind and then ran away to post the footage here.

Since you face no legal sanction, only public judgement for your action – why don't you sign your name.


You can't even apologize for getting her actual positions wrong.


You think you're clever?

Putting a pie to Bono is clever.

This is just pathetic. Real bottom of the barrel stuff. I'm sure you get off on people not appreciating it, you misanthropic twit.

by mumbly peg
Last nite Derrick Jensen gave a talk at the Women's bldg. to support the SF 8. While he may have a few questionable theories and maybe a few flaws, he provokes much needed debate on some seriously well-aimed analyses, and he is extremely humble, and uniquely sensitive to abuses of power... at varying degrees.

First had the opportunity to see him at the Green festival a few years back, a Global Exchange produced event ... and there's plenty of space and numerous reasons for him to dis the global exchange/green capital route of activism... and he did it in such a way that for those ready and even those Not ready to open their eyes to the darker realities, he's able to educate them to both further commitment and deeper understanding... while not completely mangling and/or sabotaging the fairly positive communications that happen on the lower levels... and perhaps even leaving the doors open for him to return and reach these wider and often less-informed audiences at these mainstream progressive events.

With great humor and deep sorrow and with rare motivation he illuminated that the planet will Not Be Saved by selling Eco-Shampoos.

Last nite he also humorously and perhaps accurately lumped the ridiculousness of writing cordial petitions to mass murderers with pie activists who pie mass murderers...

Medea Benjamin is obviously not in that category ... neither a mass murder and perhaps not even a ridiculous activist , and maybe this pie thing is on a much much lower notch...or even Off The Map of what one could call "tactics" entirely ... b/c maybe it's perfectly in line with the existing heirarchies of power ( a white male pie-ing a white woman), probably next to useless in achieving anything of any meaning to anyone whom the pie-er really wishes to help, and anyway is this really an enemy?!

While Benjamin may be a privledged warrior, she's still a warrior on another level, who has probably done more for children and mothers in 3rd world countries than maybe anyone on a crusty punk or anarchist or slave-wagers budget will ever manage. You just don't have much possibility of manuvering large amounts of money into higher purposes without playing some politics, wearing some theater costumes, and having some connections to other people who have it.

So she made some pathetic arguments in that battle ( WTO comments), i'm not surprised. she's not necessarily in touch with the passions on that plane, but really how much should we really care? she wasn't the one with the nightstick in her hand, nor the one commanding the robo-dogs of oppression. Yes, she could be trying to pull the whole corrupt system down , but the system exists and won't exactly be disappearing tomorrow, unfortunately. For the moment, it is undeniably a part of the picture, so maybe she's more valuable as someone who has access to its game to channel resources to social change where they are inspired. Some have roles as " jedi pilots", others have roles in camouflaged "markets", some play humanitarian organizers.

Certainly pushing money into crises is not the only level something will be achieved... but seen from another angle isn't this a bit like pie-ing the crusty punk operating at some truly grass roots level of change for his or her Lack of resources? for failure to raise enough money to keep some organization afloat ?

The same criterias do not hold for the various roles we play. These are asymmetrical games. And if the left forces Benajmin to take the same stance as the radical in the streets, don't we take her power away from getting some financial backer to fund some hospital project in guatemala or iraq?

There's a multiplicity of tasks that different people will be positioned to accomplish, and this is not to say we don't need to keep each other vigilant... cause everyone is capable of saying and doing stupid and damaging things... and to be aware of the multiple levels and realities of where each person exists on a very complex game board takes constant vigilance.

Btw, since there's some real ignorance regarding violence in these comments, i recommend reading some Jensen!
And thank you Global Exchange for introducing me to his work.
Having read Medea's excellent refutation of charges, which charges notably does not includes the charge that she campaigned for Democrats while being a Green, which is true, one could easily conclude that these pie throwers were in fact government agents trying to discredit the US Social Forum as obviously the charges do not hold. (Cointelpro was just one government spy program. In fact, the government has ALWAYS tried to destroy any serious political organizing of the workingclass). Then we read the idiot statements by this little gang and we can conclude that they are 5 year old imbeciles with adult bodies. Whatever may be the case, we do not need pie throwers anywhere. There is one incorrect point in Medea's statement: Willie Brown was not hurt at all. He is unusually strong for his age and attempted to wrestle with the male pie placers which caused him to perhaps sprain his ankle, but his visit to the hospital afterward ended by his going home soon afterward and he was not at all disabled. The heinous murder committed by Willie Brown's election fraud team of a poll worker about to blow the whistle on Wille Brown's election fraud in the June 3, 1997 49er Stadium Swindle election deserves far more than pie-placing, but that is for a different forum. If you are unaware of the crimes of Willie Brown and his election-frauding Democratic Party, see and Be sure to read the introduction in the first website as it is dedicated to the poll worker, Delores Evans, and 5 children, who died in a fire in their Housing Authority home on December 13, 1997, shortly after the election fraud lawsuit had been filed for which case she was to have been a chief witness of the election fraud. The fire inspector told the Hearst Examiner they could have escaped but someone stopped them. It is strange that a Green Party member, especially someone so prominent as Medea Benjamin, would campaign for a Democratic Party president, but that is something the Green Party must deal with. The US Social Forum's many speeches are being heard on Flashpoints on KPFA, 94.1 FM, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily this week, if one likes speeches. I am so glad I joined not the few thousand who went to this latest socializing scene, but rather the MILLIONS of people in this country who attended Sicko for our healthcare. I suggest all those people who attended the US Social Forum do some LABOR ORGANIZING NOW as that is what is most urgently needed and those who like to make movies do so for both the big and small screens to reach the MILLIONS of people who constitute the workingclass, the 70% of Americans who must be reached if we are to have any change at all in this country which is becoming increasingly Nazi USA every single day. Please do see Sicko, an outstanding movie, immediately, and bring everyone you can find over age 10 with you. For the movie theaters near you playing Sicko, type your ZIP code at:
See it, and then help promote single payer healthcare now, which is pending in the California Legislature, at
California is a bellwether state due to it having the largest population, so as we go, so goes the nation.
by reader
I used to feel a sort of seething contempt for Medea despite all her public efforts to make a stand, because of feeling like she sold out when it counted. Now I feel like she's just like the rest of us when I see her standing there with pie.

Medea, why not show them they're wrong. Don't ever tell anyone to support a D again. It's Hillary and Ghouliani. The elections are only a stunt. Don't play the game.

Even monkeys know when they are being cheated, and they refuse to play anymore. This is a fact. That's where my inner contempt comes from. That people like Medea keep people hoping when they are only being tricked over and over and over.

Pies don't help anything.

Don't anyone vote for Hillary.
by coaster
Alexander Cockburn regulary bashes Medea(see post), but in February, he wrote in his essay, "Who will End the War", in Counterpunch:

The respectable old antiwar "movement"-as opposed to real rabblerousers like Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin and Kathy Kelly-stirs into action once in a while for pleasant outings like last Saturday's in Washington, DC....

Cockburn has put Medea in good company there. She is courageous, not always right, spoils for the limelight, and has made a huge, positive difference in the American peace movement.

Keep on walking, Medea!

by I witness news
I have heard from previous GE staff members that what happens in the day to day GE office is something to be ashamed of, but MB & KD keep a tight lid on that with confidentiality contracts...can any es GE at will employees speak truth to power?
by Creme Brulee
Looks like Medea cleaned your clocks.

It is so not surprising that the cowards who attacked her can't even bother to apologize for getting the issues wrong.

Singling someone out to bear the burden of "the left" or "NGOs" is kind of silly, but if you're going to do it to anyone, why her?

Why not a true poverty professional like Van Jones?

I mean, this guy used to actually be a radical before he made the slick move over to grant-appointed leader.

Even there, I mean, is he the enemy? Who would think so? What weird world would you have to inhabit where "the" problem were NGO activists trying to make meager reforms (at best) or hustle the left? Let them hustle. If you had something worthwhile to do, you wouldn't even care. You'd be engaging people and making the change you want to see instead of complaining about everyone else.

I guess that's kind of the problem with anarchism. It's like endemic sour apples among activsts. You all wear your uniform, complain about "the liberals" (those who vote) and "the authoritarians" (those who form non-NGO political parties) and then act like your own shit doesn't stink... which by the way it does. What's up with that?

I'm only writing becaue I care. I don't send my money to NGOs, they get grants already. I do sent it to radical groups, and actively support a communist political party. Looking out, it would be ironic if it wasn't so common that anarchists are without a doubt the most sectarian, negative and inbred range of activists I've ever met. They talk about their "activist community" as if it existed, roll over on each other in a heartbeat when confronted by the power of the state and then continue to hurl accusations, disinformation and assaults at other leftists?

Imagine if Marxists did that? You don't have to, they're called the Sparticist League or any of another handful of Trot grouplets. Those kinds of groups who attack others are rightly disdained, while real arguments and politics are encouraged.

See this:

That's political argument and criticism about real issues today. It's not "fuck you and your mother" or name calling.

Seems like the anarchists think they are some super club where they are only accountable to each other, while unleashing their hazing on the rest of us.

Until you actually show some results for your philosophy besides dumpster diving bagels and going to jail for letting your mouth overlad you ass, you might try some of that humble pie Medea suggested.
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 godd-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 some random group of people. Most of the solidarity organizing was happening though 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.

Anyway, it was a call from this group that medea half-heartedly supported. Medea said she would support a ceasefire, but cant 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...?

by har
Lordy, I don't know what's funnier -- he torrent of outrage erupting from those liberals whose feathers were ruffled by seeing a media icon of symbolic dissent taken down a peg, Medea's posturing as a latter day Evita Peron in pink, benefactor of the toiling masses .. or Maoist theoritician JB's rant about the lack of civility inherent in the process of taste testing a Lemon Meringue, all the while pining away for Chairman Gonzalo and the Cultural Revolution.
by Anarchist
The uptight responses to this thread, especially the ones that scold anarchists and the other ones who support Medea, illustrate why this was such an appropriate action. It's obvious that some of you have put Medea up on a pedestal. Guess what? There are many of us out here who don't like Medea. We've got good reasons to dislike Medea and her crowd.

The responses criticizing anarchists for, gasp, doing something that anarchists do, are hilarious. Oh, right, we're only supposed to be serious activists all the time and only focus ON THE BIG PROBLEMS OF THE WORLD. Hello? Did it ever occur to you people that some of us can spend most of our time doing serious work, like prisoner solidarity, and also organize actions like this pieing?

And whoever said that movement leaders should be above criticism? Medea is much better than most self-appointed leaders (don't get me started on that clown Bob Avakian), but she is a leader of the NGO movement. That movement can do things which harm the interests of activists and, more importantly, working people around the world.
by John Thielking
I remember a couple of years ago I criticized Medea Benjamin for having a no flyering policy at the Green Festival in San Francisco. I was attempting to pass out a "hybrid" political and business promotion flyer for my website inside the Green Festival. I got hassled by one of her security detail and had to pass out the flyers outside on the sidewalk. I wrote a piece on Indybay titled "Green Festival message: Shut up and Shop" or something like that. I don't suppose it was Media's specific intent to interfere with my first amendment rights. Probably it had more to do with the specific lease agreement for the space she was using and the regulations that went along with that. Still, in an ideal world one would like to not have to deal with the same old issues that come up when going to a shopping mall. I sent her an e-mail about that incident but never received a reply. Most of Move-on's current campaign to flyer about the various Single Payer bills outside of showings of "Sicko" is going to be shut down by Mall security or the patrols that frequent the privatized spaces outside the movie theaters that otherwise look like public sidewalks (Santanna Row and the Mall and VTA transit stop/no flyering zone outside Camera 12 in downtown San Jose are such privatized/restricted spaces.)
I hope they can find enough Cinemas that are really adjoining public sidewalks, such as Cinema 9 in Santa Cruz.

I should take this space to acknowledge Medea's centrist leanings. I didn't realize until reading these postings how much she and others of her kind have compromised with the powers that be and have been co-opted to one degree or another. I guess she may have taken the Kerry position that the war was a mistake but that the democrats were the best hope for a solution. That is not a good position to take, and I don't share her view on who to elect to "win" the war in Iraq. The war is unwinnable and we should get out ASAP. The Iraqis themselves have demonstrated that where the US troops have a greater presence there is more violence than where they are less present. This suggests that there would not be a blood bath (except for possibly the rapid disappearance of the existing puppet govt of Iraq) if we were to pull out suddenly.

I wish that Global Exchange would focus its energy on expanding its economic base, and not get distracted by getting in bed with the World Bank or something like that because they think that would be a shortcut to the top. If Global Exchange stores were as big a chain as Sears or Pier 1 Imports, think of what a difference that would make in the economics of Fair Trade. World Of Good is doing something like this. They claim to have products in many stores in every state of the union. It is still small scale though. Most of what they have is a single kiosk in a grocery store or coffee shop type of thing. In my view, if Fair Trade took over like Nike and McDonalds have taken over the world economic system, the world would be a better place. Just so long as the FTC doesn't come along with "requirements" for labeling stuff "Fair Trade" that water down the definition the same way that USDA is attempting to water down the definition of "Organic".
Also, we need to start thinking long term. We need to get off the global trade bandwagon altogether eventually, unless we want to get all our stuff imported by sailing ship, since the oil will run out eventually. Pagesincolor is diversifying into Energyincolor, promoting solar power and wind power. The fair trade store will also be ramping up its selection of locally produced items in anticipation of this change. There is a whole art gallery in downtown San Jose that has nothing but local artists. I'd like a piece of that action myself.
by activists-depress-me
that I know that someone who has spent her life trying to make the world a more equitable place (you may disagree with Medea's methods but you cannot deny that her goal has been to make the world a more equitable place) has been "held accountable" for her actions by having a pie shoved in her face.

In fact, it makes me feel really inspired to go and participate in radical social justice work. Yeah. Now I can carry with me the warm fuzzy knowledge that if I survive COINTELPRO, and the hate that will be spewed on me and my family, and the violence that will be threatened or carried out on my body, that someone will be waiting to slam a pie in my face because they would have done things a differently.

Okay, end of the sarcasm. But seriously, I have participated in a lot of activist work in the last decade (I even worked a stint at Global Exchange). I got off the non-profit industrial complex train a while ago and have been doing what I think the pie-rs in this case would consider radical work. But, I'm actually on hiatus right now. I walked away from everything a couple of months ago EXACTLY because of this kind of shit. I was sick of being part of "communities" where people were regularly shitting on each other (or shitting on anyone that was smart enough to avoid their little "community"). I haven't decided yet if I'll ever get back involved in "radical" activist work, but I know one thing: Hey, all you smug, self-righteous activists out there. You DEPRESS ME.

FYI - it is totally absurd to hold Medea Benjamin (or any single individual) accountable for the NGO/non-profit industrial complex. If the pie-ers want to help tear down the NPIC, there is a lot of amazing and CONSTRUCTIVE work being done on that issue that they should check in to.
by John Thielking
I don't think that my previous post should imply that I support the piers for their actions. They could have posted a comment on the Social Forum discussion on Indybay and that would have been much better. Somehow I don't think that the pie would have landed with less force if it had been thrown from a greater distance. That defies the laws of physics/gravity. Pies thrown from a distance appear to fall off the person's face faster because they had an initial downward trajectory, not because they landed any softer.

In response to the previous poster, I can't help it if people can't handle a little constructive, if occasionally inaccurate, criticism. I get those hangup calls too. Most of the time I'm able to hang up on them before they hang up on me. Say "hello" just once. Wait one second. Not two seconds. If nobody talks, hang up. If it is a real friend calling who was a little slow, they will call back. Don't waste any more time with the bozo the clowns. I refuse to complain to the police about it because many years ago they were trying their best to make it look like a former friend was involved. Whoever it was even managed to fake my own caller ID signature to make it look like I was calling myself. So I'm sure they can fake it to make the trace look like it is coming from my former friend if they really want to. So I have to let it go.

Also, I apologize for misspelling Medea. It's Medea, not Media.
by repost from dc-imc
04 Jul 2007
by Inquilab Zindabad

To all Medea Benjamin defenders out there....first of all, the response that attacking her weakens "our movement" is a knee-jerk response. We shouldn't assume that she's part of a radical movement for social change until we actually analyze her politics and what she stands for. May be she's part of a very different that advocates for cosmetic changes and reforms, radical social change be damned.

And you know what? That's true. One need not even dredge up ancient happenings in Seattle. Here's something that happened in Washington DC in late April/early May of this year.

Remember when Wolfowitz was embroiled in a scandal at the World Bank? During that time, a number of organizations - 50 Years is Enough, Mobilization for Global Justice, Code Pink and others - held an protest event outside the Bank. Code Pink took over the bullhorn (which, BTW, belonged to MGJ) and wouldn't give it to anyone else. Which was obnoxious in and of itself, in an event that one is jointly organizing with other groups. No one organization has a right to dominate the megaphone in a coalition.

What followed, however,was worse. One of our chants was something to the effect of "World Bank, shut it down/Wolfowitz, get out of our town". Some of us initiated it and the Code Pinker on the megaphone followed and took it up. Then, I personally heard Medea - a few steps from me - go up to the Code Pinker who had the bullhorn and tell her in a loud whisper to stop the "Shut it Down" chant.

This, I think, goes to the heart of what's so fundamentally wrong with the politics of Benjamin and her ilk. They are resistant to any form of deeper, more systemic analysis, and this incident was a case in point. She wanted the protest to be solely about Wolfowitz - reducing him to "one bad apple" - rather than take a critical look at the role of the World Bank as a corrupt institution that will remain corrupt regardless of which individual happens to be at the top. It's more than insulting that some U.S. liberals want the focus to be very narrowly on their own pet causes - in this case Wolfowitz, because he's a neo-con associated with the Bush administration - while ignoring the forces that are destroying lives worldwide, such as the World Bank, IMF, and the system of corrupt global capitalism that they represent. Wolfowitz did not invent the policies of privatization, user fees, and environmentally destructive mining and dam projects that have given the World Bank its notoriety; these policies have existed for decades before Wolfowitz came on baord.

Ultimately, therefore, liberals like Medea Benjamin are not a part of "the movement," they are trying to coopt and neutralize the movement.

Let's hope George Friday gets pied next, after her obnoxious behavior on the last day of the USSF. (People who were there to see it would know what I's a digression to explain it here.) Another self-appointed "leader" who has made a career out of bullying people to climb to the top.
by jinx the cat
If you're not a liberal, don't act like one. If you want respect, give some.

The plain, sad fact is that these supposed anarchists are idiots. They claim the name of Incite, which helped organize the USSF and had a spot on the main plenary. This was an open, democratic and participatory event and the anarchists really had very little to say or do.

Nobody in Atlanta was aware this attack even happened, and now that I see it it is pretty unimpressive.

Medea Benjamin has been dogged in opposing this war and bringing literally tens of thousands of people into active opposition. She opposes imperialism, which is hardly a "liberal" position – though like many people has a pragmatic view regarding the elections.

Global Exchange has operated as a sort of left-wing Peace Corps, helping thousands of people travel to Chiapas, Cuba and throughout the world to broaden their horizons and learn about other movements in struggle.

And yeah, they do a lot small stuff. Like the Green Fair, etc.

But if you look out at this world and think that activity "coopts" you – then I have to ask how.

How does liberal-to-radical social activism "coopt" you precious anarhcists?

What are you so busy doing that this stops you from doing?


The paralysis of the anarchist movement has to do with the nature of anarchism. It has no program beyond its own adherents, who then spin in circles until they have no option but to give up or lash out as someone else.

There is no anarchist opposition to the war, now anything else much these days. You guys peaked a few years ago and went into an almost immediate tailspin. Recriminations, attacks, snitching, stupidity.

We need a hell of a lot more than NGOs, and that critique would be valid if it were even being made here. Thankfully the USSF was open to just about anyone. If the RCP could put on panels and forums, then you better believe any radical group (that actually does work) could.

It's kind of amazing that while organized communists have largely shed their sectarian habits of old, that dingy mantle has been picked up with true gusto by anarchists. How did that happen? Attacking, distorting, egoism, negativity, scene-based fanaticism and myopia. All the while, liberals like Medea Benjamin and Marxists like those who put on the revolutionary movements workshops are actually trying to break through in any of a dozen different ways and looking to share ideas.

Hell, Medea offered the person who attacked her to come by and talk... but being the cowards they are all they can do is press their whiffle. You all have to get out more often and learn that you make the choices you have. You can't blame those who do for what you don't. I've seen that kind of sectarianism back in the 70s. Who wants that now?

-- a communist
by (another) Communist
Got to love it when the communists are the ones pissed off about sectarianism.

The Incite critique of NGOs, and the role they play in the current architecture of the left (perhaps nowhere more than the Bay Area), is fine and dandy. Not a newsflash to those of us who form political parties instead of fighting for grants... but hey, whatever.

Global Exchange has done fantastic work, on a number of fronts, that is fine to criticize. No doubt that won't get us where we need to go... alone.

But all the thinking that Medea Benjamin must bear the cross of our social system personally is absurd. She works 24/7 to oppose the whole direction Bush has taken this country, and in that we should recognize genuine allies when we see them.

Without the Medea's of the world, we'd be in a lot worse shape.

Attacking and misinforming people is not productive, it's egoistic and stupid. It makes anyone who engages in it stupider.

Beating up on anarchists in general for the stupid tricks of a few is also useless. Though it is worth noting what someone said above, that anarchists do tend to think of accountability as authoritarian. "It wasn't me, it was him – how dare you generalize..." etc.

Anarchists have blown their own movement, which is a shame. Now they blame everyone for their failures but themselves.

In other words, neither Bob Avakian, Medea Benjamin or even John Kerry is responsible for their confusion.

If you want to know why anarchism isn't going anywhere, stop crying betrayal and cooptation and look at your own shit.

Otherwise, you come off like judgemental twits more concerned with being purer than thou and totally unconcerned with actually making the change you want to see.

And the anonymity of this is just creepy.

Have the courage of your convictions, especially when you slander people by name. Anything else comes off like dirty business.
by María Concepción
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.
by GateCrasher
"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!) "

When they say "direct action", I think they mean non-violent civil disobedience such as sit-ins, street blockades, and the like. Smashing windows is vandalism. Nice try at equating the two, though. Also, there are some who suspect that the window smashers were paid agents of the state to discredit the protester's message as well as "justifying" the police's brutality against ALL protesters. Window smashers should be renounced at all cost and NEVER placed into the same category as those who partake in civil disobedience and/or non-violent direct action.
by har
Small stuff like the Green Fair? Given the extraordinary support this has received from major corporations across the country eager to re-theme their products as 'green' or enviromentally friendly, I'd hardly call this 'small". But it has been a cash cow for the organiziers - including Benjamin. My favorite display was at the Green Fair in Chicago, where the Chicago Police Department had a booth and a police cruiser (Prius) advertising the city's 'blue bag' recycling progam - which is pretty laughable.
by Carlo Tresca
Excuse me, but didn't Emma G. solicit funds on the street - so to speak - to purchase the pistol Sasha Berkman used to try and assasinate Frick?

Methinks her concept of direct action was comprised of sterner stuff than Bavarian Creme.
by luci
"Window smashers should be renounced at all cost and NEVER placed into the same category as those who partake in civil disobedience and/or non-violent direct action."

Well, we'll have to agree to disagree on that one. People who smash windows or spraypaint on walls are still doing political actions - and they can be called both "nonviolent" and "direct" because noone is getting hurt (in fact, the goal is not to hurt anyone) and direct, because MORE people pay attention when they hear that precious property has been hurt than when a bunch of people get arrested for sitting down and blocking the street.

The corporate media usually only picks up sit-in-type actions when people get arrested. I think that the goal should be to never get arrested. Gumming up the system while getting beaten, denied access to bathrooms (this happened to most Seattle arrestees), etc. has a net affect on you, not on the system. Some cops get overtime, fine-- but at the same time, some arrestees get life-long injuries.
by ipso facto
My favorite comment, that cuts to the quick:

"In other words, neither Bob Avakian, Medea Benjamin or even John Kerry is responsible for [the anarchists'] confusion. "

Really folks – show, don't tell.
by Orin
Symbolic civil disobedience is no longer useful. It no longer shocks and gets attention like it used to. Property destruction is a far superior method of bringing attention to issues, because people sit up and take notice. In addition, a well placed firebomb or sand poured into an engine, etc. is much more effective at stopping harmful logging/animal abuse projects than sitting in the middle of the road.
by Ain't No Kenneth Derr
Wow ... all this content about Medea, about tactics, about juvenile entarters, about insulting paternalism from marginal dolts ... it's all so refreshing. But really, I must say it is also much ado about nothing.

Seriously, did you have a look at the actual video yet? (on the original post about this?) It doesn't look that harsh ... in the shot, you notice people smiling just after the pieing and the technique looks gentle enough ... so, I don't know ... lighten up. What a bunch of grandstanding and inflated hyperbolic bla bla.

But, then again ... all the quick hussle to put the right spin on it ... to r-cast it ... to co-opt the fun while still claiming the moral high ground .. it's all so familiar. Infact this response to the pie-ing is indeed reminiscent of Willie Brown's response. Milton Friedman knew how to say very little and sweep it aside. Those who were their pride on their sleeves seem to get hit with the same pie, over and over again. Indeed their own words and actions add the reververations to the pie-ing. And, these displays only reveal all the more why Medea really required a pie in the first place. She has failed to change, or even acknowledge her ways. Her patronizing tone, her ultimate divisiveness within long-term group/movement dynamics - can this behavior be overcome? ... perhaps. Still, I only wish her well. I wish the "left," with all it's flaws and millions of mini-factions, were more effective, legitimate and cross-promotional. I really mean that. Ahh ... someday , we'll get it together ... so, why keep fretting over spilt milk? Really, sometimes - we all just say a'little too much ...

All the best

When Medea Benjamin was asked by the New York Times what the cops should do about people smashing things at Seattle/99, her answer was switft and simple.

She said, "Arrest them."

This is not a "grudge" - it is simple evidence that shows clearly that when the shit is hitting the fan, ms. banjamin will side with the police, whom we all know are out to protect the elite.

Furthermore, ms. benjamin receives money from the major foundations. 'nuff said.

she's a liar.
by jeez
Indymedia has received money from "the big foundations" as well.

Guess you shouldn't bother posting here... or you might want to try and purge (one of the most effective Indymedia locales, as in) Champaign Urbana.

Good luck with that, @hole purity brigades.
by curious
what "big foundations" has indymedia received money from?
by natasha
yeah, this is helpful
by barb
Monday Jul 2nd, 2007 6:01 AM
yay! just what I needed to feel more inspired by this movement: more infighting! I was thinking that something was missing from the forum. There wasn't enough divisiness. There was too much alliance building going on. What we need now is more hyper-dogmatic, single-minded, my-way-or-the-highway mindsets so that we spend time and energy fighting amongst ourselves instead of working together to achieve the goals we talked about at the forum. And if people call us snarky, if they say we undermine the movements we are trying to build here at the forum, we can always raise our noses in the air and say it's in the name of ideological purity. Never mind all the real work that still remains to be done --that WON'T be done because we are busy questioning the loyalty and criticizing the methodology and creditials of other activists. This is the way we will change the world: by attacking each other, creating divisiness and making everyone conform to our strict dogmatic ideology. Way to go Bionic Baking Brigade!

This person Barb illustrates exactly what is wrong with the movement and why a real revolution may not be feasible. Too often people shy away from debate. There has to be dialogue and critical analysis of one's own beliefs and actions, as well as others. You can't just take what people say as face value. I want to know know other's opinions and the facts when it comes to allegations like the ones laid out in the earlier arguments about Medea Benjamin. If I wanted to take words at face value I would watch Fox News!
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