I mostly don't blog about politics here. Certainly not national politics! I don't really feel that I have anything unique to contribute in that particular area; and I'm not really that motivated politically. Partly this is because I am a libertarian ideologically (with the result that it's hard to get excited over pretty much anybody the two big parties run out there) and partly because as a Christian I try to place more value in the affairs of my primary citizenship than in the country I happen to be living in.
That doesn't mean I'm not interested in politics from time to time. If nothing else, politics is sometimes fun to watch as a spectator sport! I particularly like watching skilled operators: savvy amoral consultants (Dick Morris) and brilliant rhetoricians (Alan Keyes), fundamentally decent politicians (say Joe Lieberman) and spineless focus grouped suits (Al Gore).
One of my favorite political tacticians is David Horowitz. Horowitz has written one of the great political autobiographies (Radical Son), chronicling his journey from the New Left to the Right. One of the things that makes him so entertaining is that he continues to use the political tactics of the left while arguing for the right, frequently in brilliant fashion. The left, particularly the academic left that Horowitz has focused on, has a long history of doing outrageous things and getting away with it. The flamboyance, the sheer theater of the political actions of the academic left is amazing: occupying buildings, stealing papers, spilling fake blood, street theater, live-ins, love-ins, die-ins and teach-ins. It may not make for effective governance, or even win any elections, but when done just right it can have a lasting, even defining impact. Think of the '68 Democratic Convention in Chicago, for instance, or the Free Speech movement at Berkeley, or various Civil Rights marches on Washington and you'll see what I mean.
Perhaps now, as the war of idea's over the New York Times publication of secret anti-terror operations rages, it is time for conservatives to learn from Horowitz and steal a page from the other team's playbook. Oh sure, the talking heads can explain why after considering the effectiveness of the "Swift" program, the values of stealth in wartime versus the value of an open society, and taking into account their freedom to publish, the Times was wrong to print it's story. My suspicion, however, is that most people either get that already or they don't, and explanations aren't likely to change people's minds. Perhaps it's time for a little direct action, a little theater.
I understand that there are plans underway to protest at the NY Times building. All well and good, I'm sure the Protest Warriors and Co. will do a good job. If a leftist student activist from Berkeley, however, were planning the protest, this is what he might do:
- To have an impact on a city the size of New York, you'll have to have a lot of manpower (perhaps as few as 200 persons would do) and you'll have to concentrate. Pick one borough (Manhattan seems the obvious choice to me)
- On the day of the protest, assign each person a paper stand. Now a real student activist would purchase a single paper and steal the rest, but I expect conservative protestors to purchase the entire case. Private property, right?
- A short sighted act would be to merely dump the papers (A Day Without the Times!), but I think we can do better than that; instead give them away for free, but with added ... spice.
- Each protestor should wear a fake official-looking NY Times identity badge (printing the banner at www.nytimes.com on a identity badge should do, but be creative. Reporter costumes are encouraged!). Further, each protestor should be equipped with a 2 Liter bottle of fake blood. Regularly pouring small amounts over your hands ought to leave nice bloody handprints on the copies you hand out. Be prepared to explain that the Times believes nothing, not even the lives of victims of terrorism, should prevent it from getting a scoop.
Obviously you can do the math: 200 protestors might hand out 10,000 bloody papers. The impact of talking to 10,000 (probably more) New Yorkers shouldn't be underestimated. Even better, however, is that such a dramatic action is nearly certain to bring lots of press attention. If it bleeds, it leads, right? And what is communicated is not an argument, not a weighing of factors, but simply a brutally clear metaphor. The New York Times has blood on its hands. Have at it, someone....