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Violence in Genoa | The Nation

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Violence in Genoa

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Violence in Genoa

Demonstrations at the recent G-8 summit in Genoa resulted in one death: that of Carlo Giuliani, a young anarchist who was shot by police. Walden Bello's July 23 dispatch "The Battle of Genoa" and John Nichols's July 20 Online Beat, both exclusive to the web, addressed the events in Genoa--and both pieces prompted letters weighing in on all sides of the issue.

Also, Steve Cobble's June 23 web article "Supreme Injustice" has continued to draw comments from our readers, including one lifelong Republican who was given pause by the Supreme Court's decision.

DECONSTRUCTING ANARCHY

Mansfield, Ohio

I am bothered by the divisive and negative portrayal of anarchists in Walden Bello's article. Anarchism, as I'm sure you know, is a diverse political philosophy with a long history. It is not, as is often portrayed in the media, a movement merely concerned with violence and destruction--there were literally thousands of anarchists in Genoa that participated in the peaceful demonstrations. Anarchism's antiauthoritarian ideas are integral to the history of the labor movement and the left.

An anarchist is not a person who chooses violence; many anarchists vehemently oppose violence of any kind. There are certainly some people who acted violently at Genoa and who would describe themselves as anarchists, but this does not mean that all anarchists act violently.

Also, the so-called Black Bloc is not an "anarchist organization." The Black Bloc simply uses tactics that some anarchists or other radicals have chosen to use. I would hope in the future you would take that into consideration.

NICOLAS JACKSON


Genoa, Italy

The person who was killed by the police was an anarchist whose only message--if it can be considered a message--was pure violence: against the city, against the police, against everything. He was not an innocent victim. He was indeed a victim, but only of his own actions. The police did not shoot into an harmless crowd of pacific protesters. If the policeman had not fired, we would be here mourning a policeman killed in the line of duty.

Death deserves respect and silence and grief, no matter how it happened. But that death, as awful as a young death can be, was not one of a pacific protester. The young person who was killed was wearing a black mask to disguise his identity, and he was assaulting a police SUV with a deadly weapon--together with five or six other "protesters" who jumped on the roof, smashed the window, etc. Let me tell you this: Protesters have ideas, and they express their ideas in a peaceful way. Everything else has to be condemned. Italy is a democracy. If people are not satisfied with a majority that has been democratically elected, then there are the mechanisms of the opposition, and there are regular political elections.

As an associate supporter and subscriber of The Nation, I will cancel my subscription, effective next week. Yours is not free press; yours is a press that winks at young generations of squatters, pours gasoline on the fire of violence, condones violence, defends people that destroyed an entire city, and does not condemn civil disobedience. My city has never been in such conditions before--not even during the war, fifty years ago.

ANDREA PERTOSA


Leominster, Mass.

Without the help of "extreme" radicals, nonviolent protesters would not be getting the media coverage they so desperately need. Do not forget that battles in the streets make for good sensationalism in the corporate press. Instead of making anarchists out to be a bunch of hooligans, why not inquire into and report on why they take action in such a manner? That would make for some interesting journalism.

One thing that Bello should look into is the role of "agents provocateur" during recent protests. Reports of police conspiring with fascists have been circling, especially since the raid of a school (which Bello witnessed) and the local IMC office. Finally, why haven't the police gone after some of these small bands of "anarchists"? The answer might be that they are actually black-clad police officers, provoking protesters and other anarchists who have tried to stop their random vandalism.

I am grateful to The Nation for its coverage of the real events in Genoa, but please take care not to alienate friendly groups. Despite differences, factions on the left need to learn to stick together. That's the only way to win.

ALEX CROWLEY


STOP, HEY, WHAT'S THAT SOUND?

North St. Paul, Minn.

I encourage The Nation and its readers to resist the use of the phrase "anti-globalization movement" (used in John Nichols's "Online Beat"), which has been adopted by the mainstream corporate media and National Public Radio, because the description is simplistic and misleading. As an activist and a protester, I believe it is important always to define the movement in more educational terms--as resistance to corporate globalization and neoliberal economic policy (e.g., "free trade").

It is also important to recognize this movement not just as "anti-corporate globalization" but also as "pro-democratic globalization" and "pro-fair trade." This movement is characterized by international solidarity, diverse and unusual alliances, civil disobedience, nonviolence (although its definition is hotly debated), and large, colorful celebrations in the streets, contrasting with the isolation of the powerful elite behind lines of riot police and barricades. While this movement is certainly not monolithic, I believe most would agree that we are fighting for substantive democratic involvement and consideration of alternative solutions to the global problems we face.

I hope that in the future, contributors to The Nation will consider the importance not only of the message of the movement, but also the language used to describe it.

FAITH HARELDSON


New York City

While Genoa and the world burns (and people die), the modern Neroes play their fiddles. Instead of talking about systemic changes to the global political system--and instead of thinking of ways to introduce a global constitutional democracy, such as creating a world parliament that would finally give a voice to the citizens of the entire world--the Group of Eight is in the Band-Aid business.

The mere start of a process to create a global democracy would rechannel the energies of millions of frustrated people toward a positive goal, and would create a forum for the management of globalization's challenges. We do not need one more fig-leaf elitist process to "manage" or "advise" globalization, as called for by the UN High-Level Advisory Committee on Finance and Development and the State of the World Forum. We need a straightforward world parliament with balanced rules, so that neither rich nor poor countries dominate. This is both practical and fair.

Everything else is a Band-Aid. Both the right and the left don't get it, because demands for global free trade (the right) or for global taxes without global representation (e.g., the Tobin tax, from the left) are fundamentally unsound and undemocratic.

We can create a global parliament within ten years. And as soon as the process starts, the world will look back and say, "This is so obvious--why did we not start before?"

TROY DAVIS


Seattle

I was neither surprised nor saddened to hear that a protester was killed at the G8 conference in Genoa. I was in Seattle when thousands of protesters descended on the city during the WTO last year. Hundreds of them came for the sole purpose of smashing storefront windows, turning cars over, throwing rocks and bottles at police and causing general mayhem. Few of the most violent protesters had any clue what it was they were protesting against. The article by John Nichols implied that the protesters represent the majority of people in the country. They do not.

I could understand if a protester in, say, North Korea or Cuba felt the need to hide his face during a protest against government policy; but when protesters protesting US or French or Japanese government policy think they need to hide their faces, that is a good indication of what their true intentions are. Why should a shopkeeper have his storefront destroyed by a protester over a corporate globalization issue?

In my opinion, most of these protesters are spoiled brats. Most are well under 30 years old, which means they are too young to know the real suffering of their grandparents' generation. They aren't even old enough to remember Vietnam. If they had been born in the 1920s, they would have known hunger and would have had good chance of dying on a World War II battlefield. If they had been born in the 1930s, they might have died on a Korean battlefield. If they had been born in the 1940s, they might have died in Vietnam. If they had been born in the 1950s, they would have known fear of the Soviet Union, as I did. But most of them were born in the 1970s or later. They have no right to complain about anything.

If John Nichols thinks the protesters represent the majority opinion, then let him prove it by winning elections with left-wing candidates.

ROB MILLER


THE SCALIA FIVE, REDUX

North Richland Hills, Texas

As a practicing attorney, I have a deep fascination with the Bush v. Gore decision and its political and legal fallout. Because of my interest, I read all of the briefs of the parties to the case, the decisions of the Florida Supreme Court and the US Supreme Court, and many articles concerning the case in The Nation, the New York Times, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and the Dallas Morning News. I researched the previous holdings of the Supreme Court on equal protection and voting rights and recently read Vincent Bugliosi's book, Betrayal of America, and Alan Dershowitz's new book titled, coincidentally, Supreme Injustice. During the span of my career, I have also read literally thousands of constitutional law cases, including the Dred Scott decision and Plessy v. Ferguson.

Having studied this matter ad nauseam, I, like conservative jurist Robert Bork, find the decision to be poorly reasoned and flawed. I know of no serious constitutional law scholar who can find any legal justification for the ruling; all rely on non-legal justifications such as the patronizing assumption that it is in the best interests of the country for five jurists to decide election contests quickly, rather than allow the election contest procedure to proceed as it has for the better part of the last 200 years of our democracy. Under no circumstances can I envision a single conservative judge or attorney (including the Scalia Five) who would agree with the legal reasoning or outcome of the case had the shoe been on the other foot.

Steve Cobble got it right, without a single doubt.

This Bush v. Gore decision is the most dangerous decision ever to come out of the Supreme Court, more dangerous that the Dred Scott decision, and more dangerous than Plessy v. Ferguson. It destroys the very foundation of democracy, the right to vote. Without support in the constitution, without support in statutes, without support of previous case law, the Supreme Court has now vested solely within itself (to the exclusion of state and federal legislative bodies and the state courts) the right to stop recounts, to interfere with state election procedures, to throw out the laws of the states and the rights of the voters, in order to have the last say on who is president. The right of the US Congress to decide election contests was ignored, and the right of state courts to interpret their own laws trampled. Never have the terms of the Constitution been so twisted to justify such a blatant grab for power.

Having been a Republican for the majority of my voting life, I challenge doubters to research the matter carefully before blindly accepting the propaganda of the right. It sure changed my outlook. The foundation of the democracy is crumbling from the weight of the Court's unprecedented grab for power. For the first time in my forty-five years of life, I tremble for our future. And I'm filing to vote as a registered Democrat.

LOUISE C. HENSLEIGH

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