I was targeted on Veterans Day. Waking up that day I discovered two truck tires flat. It was lucky that it was a holiday or I’d have missed my morning school bus driving route. Examining my tires, I found a couple of half inch knife stabs in the side walls. I called the police in case my insurance might cover it and to find out if there had been other reported tires slashed in the neighborhood. According to them no other tires were reported slashed in the neighborhood, they gave me a case number and that was it. My insurance wouldn’t cover it either. This three day weekend was beginning with a whodunnit, a bunch of tires to change and a bit of concern for what else might be coming my way.
The biggest worry was that it may be related to my old dump truck that was burned to the ground where it had been parked downtown on October 17th. I considered at the time, that it was likely an accident caused by the homeless people who were sleeping in the cab which I left unlocked. The tires slashed at my house meant I needed to consider the dump truck fire an intentional arson, followed by more attacks targeting me at my home.
As I changed my tires I pondered who would do this and why. No one I know personally would have a grievance against me so severe as to make them feel that they should act against me in such and egregious and cowardly way. In general, the people who know me understand that I’m a respectful person who treats people kind. However, one major difference between me and many people is that I participate in the grassroots civil society. It seemed that I was likely targeted for political reasons by people I don’t know personally.
My politics, plainly put, are that I stand up for people, planet and peace over profits. My political positions have evolved over the years, like most people’s, although I spend much more time than the average person in developing my positions. I say this because I had every intention of being a journalist when I was young but realized that real journalism was being gutted and replaced with consolidated corporate media as well as the better paying liars of the public relations industry. I kept my journalistic ethos of trying to investigate and inform the public on the issues that matter but I followed that passion into the grassroots community groups who I found were often engaged in speaking truth to power but largely ignored.
It’s a journey of losing faith in the people in charge and coming to know their system. I watched Bush lose the first election I voted in but still be crowned President, the telltale sign of the collapse of our democracy. The ecosystem was in decline around the world and global warming wasn’t being talked about much less being taken seriously. Bush entered the US into two enormous protracted wars that never made any sense except in the creation of suffering plus profits for military and oil industries. The Patriot Act escalated a terrible era of fear and surveillance that has never been lifted. The banksters of Wall Street collapsed our economy while reaping huge spoils for themselves never facing justice. The Citizens United decision, affirming unlimited money in politics, guaranteed that elections would never again deliver a representative democracy. The continued forces of US exceptionalism, racism, sexism, classism and homophobia all worked towards dividing any resistance. I saw billionaires reach heights I never thought possible while homelessness spread at rates I never dreamed would happen. Now the US, which has lost it’s moral standing as well as it’s economic and industrial might, is determined to rule forever based on it’s informational dominance and military strength. In this context, I considered it my responsibility to the future of the world to do what I could to change things even if it meant sacrifice.
This is where my politics comes from. And for more than 20 years I’ve been engaged in every way that most people have, like voting, plus many ways that some have not. I also pushed myself to understand these topics deeper, get to the roots of issues, see past false premises and ideological blinds. Understanding the power we have for change, the power we need and the powerful to overcome. This has meant a trade of time towards these causes rather than towards potential career, family and material gains. Normally this is an acceptable trade for a socially minded person. You’re gaining in rich relationships, a stronger community and broadening networks. However there is always the great risk, and in difficult times the almost certainty, of oppression. Whoever decided to stab my tires is, effectively, standing against the politics I’ve outlined above and is part of the oppression against, not just me, but all people who work on these causes.
Everyone considers themselves the good guys.
I’m against the divisive mainstream politics of today. It’s a framework I try and encourage people to leave behind. Whatever works in getting people out of the framing of the mainstream to a more realist, natural and humanist understanding is a goal of mine. There seems to be no short cut other than developing our critical thinking skills, skeptical intuition and trust in each other over unaccountable institutions. Try as I might there isn’t a meme I can send out that makes people challenge their premises. In the end, what works is the long path of deep conversation, showing values through action, developing relationships, encouraging critical analysis and an increasingly regular praxis of engaging in the values that would now perhaps be seen as resistance.
I wrote an article explaining how I’ve been trying to limit my use of words like “left” and “right” when talking about political issues. Avoiding this sort wording is useful in pursuing broad appeal. I had been called “left” by most, but I’ve been called all sorts of things by all sorts of people. I found it to be self described “leftists” who become my biggest detractors. In many ways it’s because, in the past, I tended to voice myself in that regard which would perhaps be taken as challenging their own perspectives. I would say that it has never been my intention to institute any sort of dominant view on the challenges of today, only to engage in a dialectic with others towards pathways forward. My disagreements that I am most firm about have almost exclusively to deal with challenging the billionaire class and their authoritarian grip on the US and the world. This in and of itself also isn’t very ideological, it is mostly to do with their failings at creating a world in which we live in a sustainable and happy equilibrium with nature and each other. Since their growing power has created growing problems, we must replace their power with the multitude that offer real solutions.
While I don’t consider myself deeply ideological, I have engaged in a wide variety of political and economic ideas which offer real hope over the rigid ideas that seemingly control the US. The hegemonic power of the US since WW2 substituted the long term struggle for the common good with short term thinking, materialism and extreme individualism. The powers that have kept control in the US therefore seem to have calcified in their own thinking. Rather than refining and improving their ideas in real debate, which would improve the culture and systems of our society, they have managed more and more to choose to avoid debate by control over media, elections and narrowing the framing. They have been able to do this because of the depth of US dominance after WW2 in industry, economics and scientific advancement. An advantage which has slowly eroded away as other nations have grown more nimble during that time. I feel that has left the US with a broken culture and bad ideas. There is now an inability to ignore the systemic problems.
Internalizing the values of elite domination.
What about the ideas of the people targeting me? In Olympia, it seems that I am targeted mostly by a small clique. I am not sure how these people actually describe their own politics. Unfortunately, however they describe themselves, their power seems to be in their negativity and need to dominate any grassroots discourse. In that way they seem to have internalized the values of the elite’s domination. Since I am mostly focused on understanding geopolitics today, I would characterize their views in the same mystifying ways as what the US calls the “rules based order.” The correlation being that many people nod along to President Biden saying we must defend the “rules based order” but few actually knows what he exactly means.
My interpretation of what that means is that there are rather nebulous “rules” made by the US and other international bodies the US mostly controls. That these “rules” overwhelmingly benefit the US and the multinational corporations of the west at the expense of the poorer and less developed nations which are exploited. Yet these “rules” are argued as being for the good of everyone despite not being made with the consent of everyone nor for the benefit of everyone. Finally, you can’t break these “rules” or question these “rules” or else you will be deemed “bad” and become a target of the US with sanctions, disruptions, regime change or attack.
Now replace the words “rules based order” with “anti-oppressive theory and practice” and you have more or less the sentiment of people targeting me. Not that I am against either if interpreted in better ways! Certainly most people who hear “rules based order” or “democracy vs autocracy” are good people who think that’s the side they should be on. Broach even a minor criticism with “anti-oppressive theory and practice” and many people just assume you’re a monster. The unsatisfactory response, that I’m someone who disagrees with US foreign policy and thinks there are better theories and practices for the important work of social and economic justice, hardly is understood. Not that long ago you’d be able to have a complex conversation about these and other topics without a lot of name calling, de-platforming, cancelling, doxing, attacks, violence and more but today not so much.
Cancel Culture writ large.
I have been involved in community groups working to make the world a better place for my whole life. In the past 15 years grassroots community organizations across the nation have faced wave after wave of devastating internal crisis. I’ve witnessed it over and over again and today it should be very clear that it has left our independent grassroots community organizations broken, abandoned, isolated and unable to do the work. I know dozens of people, good community organizers, who have been the subject of character assassinations that left them bruised, broken and cancelled. For every one cancelled person there are many more who end up leaving because of the drama. The ones left behind and seizing control are the character assassinators. With them are their support groupies, the fearful atoners or the silent agree’rs. The takeover may be completed or not, but it always leaves the groups weaker, usually much weaker, often destroyed, with relationships ruined.
I know many people will say that all the turmoil in grassroots organizations has been good. That it’s a healthy pruning and very educational. Maybe in some ways. I would suggest that people actually take the time to evaluate the effectiveness of actions. When I look around I see a shrinking in grassroots organizing, much more blowback, the losing ground or even reversal on past gains, greater fear and unparalleled disorganization. This corresponds to the rise of what some have termed the “Nexus”, described as a synthesis of identitarianism, social media, and cancel culture. I often call it militant liberalism, where an extremist individualism is coupled with emotional maximizing around minimal commonalities to effectively give the look of militant actions to super mainstream positions. Call it whatever, many call it wokeness and cancel culture.
That being “woke” has turned into a joke, is a sad blowback on social movements. For decades activists have pushed people to “wake up” on major issues affecting the US and world. Like right now I’d like to yell as loud as possible for the US to WAKE UP regarding the risk of NUCLEAR WAR!! It wasn’t even an issue in the mid-term elections even though a scientist estimated a 16% chance of nuclear war and the Doomsday Clock was set at 100 seconds to midnight, it’s closest ever! One reason why being “woke” is a joke probably has to do with the fact that woke culture seems to have nothing whatsoever to say about nuclear war. They’re apparently too busy prioritizing stabbing my tires or calling up venues to get the musician David Rovics’ shows cancelled.
I mention David Rovics because he’s targeted by the same sort of clique that I am also targeted by. The idea that Rovics, who has written hundreds of amazing songs sung at protests and rallies for all the best causes, would be called fascist with a campaign to cancel shows, is absolutely ridiculous. I consider him a friend and part of the trouble I get into is in stepping up and defending people being actively attacked by the cancellers. I’ve done this for perhaps a dozen people over the past decade whom I know. When I say defend, what I usually mean is de-escalate, encourage dialogue, humanize, contextualize, console, support and sometimes to call a liar a liar.
Speaking up against the mobbing and public flogging that usually happens on social media but sometimes happens in public, makes you a target as well. Most people just watch people get their reputations destroyed and say nothing. I don’t. Partially it’s because I’ve been targeted and always had hoped that someone would have been in my corner and they mostly weren’t. We really need people to stand up against liars and people who spread harmful rumors. I stand up against bullying.
I know who targets me
On November 13, three days after my tires got slashed, I was written about unkindly in the Puget Sound Anarchists’ blog. It was a short sentence, “Another failed local politician, misogynist, conspiracy theorist and self-proclaimed anti-racism trainer for the Proud Boys Bruce Wilkinson voiced his support for the anti-trans event alongside calls to ban gender-affirming healthcare for anyone under the age of 25.”
It wasn’t very hard to figure out that this was the little anarchist group that was responsible for the arson, for the tire stabbing and several threats made at me. Generally, these are younger people I don’t know and whom I have never talked to. Their one sentence description of me certainly shows that they don’t know me at all and the rest of their article shows that they hold some severely troubling and dangerous views. They don’t just threaten me, they threaten and attack many people, mostly women. All the same, it wasn’t very hard for me to track down their real names, addresses and a whole lot more. It’s silly that they thought they were being anonymous.
What do I do about it? I was concerned about the arson and that it was someone along an escalatory path towards me. I know now that the arsonist was houseless and in a drugged out insane state of mind and not the same person who stabbed my tires. The police are investigating the arson and have the act recorded on video. This was a disturbed transient transwoman, not a core antagonist from the anarchist clique but at best a person who they likely had tried to help in their own ways. I’ve tried to help people with severe mental illness who are houseless, it’s a difficult thing to do as an individual with limited resources. I applaud that these folks try to help, I’m afraid they asked too much doctrinal loyalty. It’s the anarchist version of a church helping while trying to convert people. And I worry if that spurred the arson.
The person likely knew it was my dump truck and had heard the hate by others for me. It’s unlikely that they were put up to it directly. Maybe it was a crazed attempt to show their radicalness because there is a tendency in this clique towards competing to one up each other in audacious acts rather than acting on a plan towards a strategic goal. They are houseless and obviously need first a room, then mental health and drug addiction resources. It is likely they will go to jail, arson is a felony and the police are going to prosecute. Seeing as their life is spiraling out of control living on the streets in the winter as well as being extremely destructive to themselves and the community, it might be better than the situation that they are currently in. I hope they get help and a light sentence but there is nothing I can do, they screwed up.
The tire stabbing has it’s own evidence, anarchists engaging in these sort of things should be aware that cameras are everywhere. A misdemeanor, it’s not being pursued by the police at all, but if another act is made by the same person towards me, it’ll be added in I’m sure. I’m hoping that the person who did it will do the right thing. Come forward, offer a simple apology and agree to make amends, which is something that can be a negotiation. I’m looking for an end of hostility towards me and the escalatory behaviors. To make peace, shake hands and walk away.
I hadn’t dealt successfully with the issues I’ve been facing in the past. I had thought that people who knew me would see through false and distorted whisper campaigns. I should have been proactive in dealing with the cancel talk against me. I should have had conversations earlier with more people. I am 42 now and I have 25 year olds targeting me based in over a decade of the game of telephone being played about me. It’s quite impressive how distorted things have grown based in things that were never accurate. I assume that some of that has to do with malicious actors targeting me for my consistent actions against the big banks, monopoly utilities, in support of Latin American solidarity, actions against US foreign policy, etc. It’s not a conspiracy theory, when you’ve been one degree away from three grand jury investigations that you know of, to casually understand that you’ve been a person of interest for over a decade for the roles you’ve had against powerful well funded interests. It’s the way of things and I don’t think I should be faulted for assuming that the longevity of the rumor mongering might be fueled in part by this. It’s been a consistent thing for a long time that whenever I engage on an important campaign, these elements rise to discredit me and the campaigns I engage in. Spooky!
The blowback is their own creation.
The anarchist clique that is targeting me is motivated to attack because they consider me a safe target or rather they consider me weak. It’s the punching down by cowards. There have been enough negative words attached to my name in their circles that despite their total lack of direct interactions with me they perceive any attacks against me as legitimated. That’s quite unfortunate for them because frankly attacking me just makes them more of a pariah and creates blowback for the causes they claim to support. For me, this is something I consider a bad outcome.
It might be surprising for them to hear that I consider them facing blowback, community negativity, ostracization, fear and for their causes to be undermined a bad outcome, but I do. I basically laid out above how I consider it important to overcome division in the movement for change because united we win. I’m also a big supporter of the grassroots using their power more directly. Rather than beggaring the powerful we must state demands backed with the determination to achieve them ourselves if our demands aren’t heeded. The power elite and the government needs to fear the people and they never will when all they are seeing is unorganized cowards anonymously attacking other working people.
When it comes to this particular anarchist clique, they are outliers in the anarchist world. More than that, they are outliers in the movement for change. Their positions, having been developed in a cult like echo chamber that can’t stand up to real world scrutiny. Their identities have been formed in a fragile but abusive culture that demands total unquestioning adherence. Even mild critiques have to be countered with violent aggression, expulsion and cancellation. I feel absolutely horrible for the people that they cancel who, unlike myself, were deeply involved in their group and who leave feeling like their entire world and sense of self has broken.
Part of me wonders if that poor crazed transient transwoman who burned down my truck was themselves a victim of cancelation by this group. The video seemed to show them wandering around the area back and forth in circles. From raging to muttering, they show a deep isolated and broken psyche. At one point they seemed to defecate on the railroad track. Then they open the door to my truck and throw in the flaming object. Afterwards they go to the railroad tunnels where they light more fires, leaving their jacket behind in the cold hours of the morning.
Was this person accepted by this anarchist clique at first? Were they warmly welcomed and made to feel that they had found their people? As they were brought deeper in, did they make some kind of “mistake” that they had to be then punished for? Eventually were they ruled problematic and abruptly cut off from those that once made them feel like they were part of a family?
I can only imagine the devastation that an already marginalized, troubled and deeply struggling person may feel in that scenario and the total lack of support they would find themselves in. It makes me wonder if, in that state of mind, they latched on to maybe something they heard about the owner of the truck. Maybe they heard terrible things spread in this toxic social setting about me, whom they didn’t know. Maybe they even heard other people in that group saying how someone should burn it down. Maybe in that crazed moment they thought that if they burned down my truck it might regain their place in the community that had cancelled them.
That might sound like a real stretch but the sad thing is that I’ve seen these sort of scenarios play out in similar communities in Olympia. Young people one upping each other in horrible ways with much peer pressure and a shallow community that abandons them. Sometimes it’s drugs, sometimes it’s crimes and sometimes it’s political. I’ve seen too many young people waste their lives, end up in jail or even die in these cultures. Meanwhile those with real support to fall back on inevitably come out only bruised while their less fortunate “comrades” face these severe consequences.
What about their accusations?
I shared above their one line about me in their blog post. That’s all I really know of their thoughts of me. I have found that responding to a string of unbacked allegations doesn’t lead, like normal people would think, to clarification and settlement. The same or similar unbacked allegations will still get shared later on once again. There is really nothing to even respond to. They haven’t shown that they have any idea what they are even talking about. It’s a game of telephone that has gone on so long that the original players have long left the game. I don’t really know any of the early twenties anarchists still playing the game.
The amazing thing is that I’m basically an open book. A long time ago I made the decision, when it was important to make it, that I was going to be an activist that works above ground. That was my choice, I’m not saying it was right or wrong, but it had certain consequences. I don’t hide my identity at protests, marches or direct actions. I’ll go to a march with anarchists who will be wearing their black block uniforms and I’ll be chanting and marching not at all concealing my identity. Rather than hiding behind anonymity I’m willing to face the consequences for my beliefs. I’ve found that standing at the barricades and participating in actions while not being anonymous has made me become more courageous, brave, thoughtful and serious. I chose to act in this way because I want to always represent my values.
I also think that the path to victory is going to mean people having great courage in the face of fear. That in the US there are supposed rights to free speech, free assembly and rules of law. That we should use our rights or risk losing them. In that way I also share my writing publicly, mostly on social media but also in this blog. I stand by what I say as well and try to be respectful because of that. People can search words on my facebook page and see every post I have ever made on various subjects. If I was actually any of the things these people claim they could show evidence.
My question to these anonymous anarchists is what if you were unveiled? If you had known you were being recorded stabbing my tires? Is that something that you would proudly go to jail for? Is that an action that you feel represented your values? Is it a position that you could defend in the public without being seen as ultimately some kind of nut job? I think the cowardice of these sort of anonymous attacks also makes for foolishness. The anarchists pretend themselves anonymous and it becomes a game. What about when real consequences come from your actions? Maybe then you’d have wished you had taken your politics more seriously.
An open invitation to parley.
Many politically engaged people know me in Olympia, especially a little bit older folks here that taught me so much over the past 16 years. I feel that these young anarchists have missed out on what I had when I was their age in that regard. The community organizations always had a broad mix of people of different ages, experiences and cultures. Today they organize with people who all think the same. It was great conversations with people who could challenge my ideas that made for my own growth.
There is nothing nicer than going to the San Francisco Street Bakery and sitting with a cup of coffee and talking to people. Or sitting around a campfire late into the night and seeing where the conversations go. I’m a very approachable person, always willing to listen and accommodating. Maybe it’s the southern hospitality in me but I love having guests and good conversation.
A parley is a conversation between too sides in a dispute towards an armistice. I don’t particularly have a dispute with these individuals other than my loss in property. I also need assurances that I won’t be targeted again. I think all this can and should be worked out. The question is whether they have the courage to do so.