The WTO protests...
May 1, 2000 6:10 AM   Subscribe

The WTO protests... Remeber those? Well, I knew about this rumor on Friday, but didn't want to post it until I got more verification. All the police lining Wall Street and the downtown area pretty much did that this morning. It seems that the 'organizations' loosely formed to protest any kind of world economic model have decided to cause civil unrest in downtown New York; try to gain access to the NYSE and AMEX and so forth. First, I find this whole 'movement' short sighted, and under-thought. Also, I think now participants are just trying to get into the news. Second, are these people idiots? Seattle and Washington were cheese puffs. Downtown New York is trained for terrorism. Do they really think they can operate under the radar of the security down here? I'll just say that I better be able to get in and out for lunch or I'll be pretty pissed off.
posted by rich (10 comments total)
They could do it. Disguises would be easy:

1. The Tourist. White running shoes. Women wear too much gold jewelry and shirts with spangles and rhinestones glued on them. Men might wear penny loafers or other such shoe totally unsuited to walking around the city. Men wear polos; older protestors should turn the collar up circa 1985. Carry at least three shopping bags. Hard Rock t-shirt on the younger ones. Always look around, form little groups, behave like everything is just a show, staged for your amusement. On a day like today, a surprising number of tourists will be wearing shorts because a) they tell weather by the calendar and b) they think 65 degress in New York City is warm. It isn't: they're forgetting the winds whipping around buildings.

2. The Wall-Streeter. No long hair, no sandals. Suits preferably, on men and women. Nice, expensive shoes, watch, belt. Cheap satchel or bag. While on the street, women wear tennis shoes and carry their heels or work shoes in a cheap plastic shopping bag. Expensive sun glasses. Folded newspaper under arm: Times or Wall Street Journal, though a New Jersey newspaper would cinch the look. Younger protestors should wear suits just a tad too large for them. Clean-cut necks and face. No facial hair. Women wear floppy blouses, helmet-hair. Cell phones are good. Do not look at the buildings. Walk fast, purposefully.

Do not bring placards or megaphones. Do not congregate in groups of two or more. Do not talk to other people.
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:42 AM on May 1, 2000

These damn protesters piss me off. They strike me as a bunch of bored fellow genxers who have nothing better to do and latchd onto an issue they truly don't understand. Supposedly their next targets are the Democrat and Republican conventions. Not smart. America is tired of you and will fully support the police squelching your illegal protests.
posted by owillis at 6:57 AM on May 1, 2000

Not to snit, but "America is tired of you" speaks a good deal more about you than "America." If people have a beef and haven't had a voice yet, this is their time. Whether it's newsworthy or not is up to the news delivery agents. (Some of which are *us*.)

I like Mo Nickel's smart suggestions. I'd have never thought along those lines, and if they were practiced, it would bring a whole new twist to living in the age of irony (as opposed to the silver or golden age that Republicrats usually [think they||do?] live in).

posted by Hilarion at 8:26 AM on May 1, 2000

When my uncle went to the big anti-war march on Washington in the sixties, he cut his hair short and wore a suit so he would be taken more seriously.

Some kinds of protest are illegal and some kinds of doing business are illegal. The difference, in my estimation, is that you don't hear protestors whining and complaining if they get busted for their illegal actions....

posted by jessamyn at 10:09 AM on May 1, 2000

But the "protestors" are trying to disrupt completely legal business activities.I'm imagining the planners sitting around tossing out phrases like "a monkey wrench in the gears of global capitalism." But most Americans approve of that system (ie, of capitalism and the necessary financial infrastructure), so whose side are you really on?
posted by lbergstr at 10:31 AM on May 1, 2000

I don't think you'd find many americans who actually want a true capitalism society. We as americans are far more socialistic than we often admit to ourselves. Wether it be corporate welfare, or consumer protection, or environmental protection, most people don't trust big businesses to act with any consideration of the "little guy", or the future.

I wonder, how many of those who gripe about the protestors, have ever been outside of the US, to know what the real world is like outside our sacred borders, and just how wonderful we do have it here, in terms of a stable economy, built upon a couple hundred years of lucky resource allocation...

That is not to say that alot of the "protest movement" isn't holdovers from the dead-followers, looking for something else to do...
but that isn't to say that there isn't ALOT wrong with current American business practices. Witness the valuations of most dot-com's, who have market capitalizations in the billions, and no real product. Witness the standard business practice for chemical companies, to export to the 3rd world, stuff that is illegal to sell in the US, because it's proven to be too dangerous. Witness the lack of interest in tommorrow's may-day sickout...My opinion is that too many Americans have gotten addicted to greed, to recognize their own distress, until it's too late...
posted by nomisxid at 10:52 AM on May 1, 2000

Protesters have the right to assembly and the right to free speech. There are no values more important to the US model of democracy and freedom than the rights to assembly, free speech, and free press. Since press is no longer "free" (owned by Knight-Ridder, Time-Warner et al.), a large attention-grabbing protest is often the only way to get the word out about corrupt machinations like the World Bank and the WTO.

Do you understand that the WTO allows corporations to nullify national laws if the WTO determines those laws to be a "barrier to free trade"? This includes child labor laws and minimum wage. They've already struck down the ban on tuna "net fishing" so that dolphins are once again being killed by tuna fishers. The cans still say "dolphin safe" because the WTO ruled that they don't have to adhere to the ban on net fishing in order to use that label. (Read more about it.)

Thanks to NAFTA, the USA's ban on carcinogenic asbestos was struck down because Canada claimed it was a barrier to free trade. So corner-cutting US businesses who don't care that they're giving people cancer are using asbestos again. Hundreds of people in the US will contract terminal cancers each year due to asbestos exposure-- even though we as a society outlawed asbestos because it was so dangerous.

Corporations already have all the rights of a US citizen plus the power of wealth, size, and immortality. Laws and regulations are the only thing that keep them in check, so the WTO was formed to help get rid of those pesky laws that we fought and voted for.
People complain that protesters are "monkey wrenching" and disrupting society. You want to talk disruption? How about when Reagan ended the air traffic controllers' strike in 1986 by firing all the union workers who were organizing to demand better conditions? That was pretty damn disruptive-- if you want to know why real wages have slid down to 1970s levels even as corporate profits are skyrocketing, you need look no further than 1986, when Reagan broke the backs of the unions in our free, democratic, capitalist society where we all have the 'right' to assemble & organize-- as long as we don't bother anyone with any real power.

Believe me, I used to be a straight-up fiscal conservative who read Ayn Rand books. But then I started reading about S&L bailouts, padded DoD contracts, soft money campaign contributions, corporate welfare... now I'm definitely progressive all the way.

Post-1986, protests, boycotts and monkey-wrenching seem like the only way to be heard. Monkey wrenching may be annoying, but remember-- a wrench is a tool; in some cases it's the only tool we have.
posted by wiremommy at 11:39 AM on May 1, 2000 [1 favorite]

one of the next targets (although admittedly not a big one) is here at Michigan State University where the World Bank Pres. is the commencement speaker. Hopefully people will behave themselves and we won't have the riot problems that have at times plagued this campus. However, it seems that every time 'outsiders' come to East Lansing (as they did during the NCAA riot last year) we have problems. . .
It's worthwhile to note that MSU's president used to work in internation finance and development - I've heard that he was planning to bend the World Bank president's ear about some of the Bank's policies (and was going to deliver all student messages to the bank president). I wonder if this protest might not undo some of the good that might have been done - the Bank President might end up leaving MSU with a pretty sour taste in his mouth, and probably won't listen to anything anyone says.
posted by iceberg273 at 12:11 PM on May 1, 2000

First, that's a very responsible perspective on the protests, Rich. I certainly hope you aren't inconvenienced in any way by the struggle for global justice, which clearly has nothing to do with yourself. Second, I can't seem to find a link to a story about any protests in NYC in your post. Did I miss something?
posted by sudama at 10:47 PM on May 1, 2000

I don't mind protests. We need protests in order to get people to realize the issues here. I have to concur with iceberg273's post--no one likes a riot, and people tend to not like when personal safety is threatened, regardless on views on the particular issue.
posted by Electric Elf at 10:27 PM on May 2, 2000

« Older Pyra's killer app   |   Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments