Agents provocateurs in Seattle, WA sow disunity on the left
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - This Saturday, Vermont's junior US Senator and candidate for the Democratic nomination for President Bernie Sanders visited what he called America's most progressive city. Official estimates say that 15,000 people were in attendance to this event which, as with many other of his recent campaign stops, adds up to more people combined in one stop alone than any other presidential candidate has assembled in the entirety of their campaigns combined. The Bernie momentum has been successfully uniting various socialist oriented community organizations with masses of working people into one movement under the banner of his presidential campaign.
Hours prior to appearing at the pavillion where he made his main appearance, Senator Sanders also addressed an outdoor crowd of supporters at Westlake. It was here that almost immediately into his remarks two rambounctious women from the "Black Lives Matter" (BLM) movement stormed onto the stage and threatened that he be shut down if he did not let them speak. Sanders' immediate reaction to their presence was to extend his hand and welcome the unexpected guests, but their hostile intentions were soon thereafter made clear as the two began to scream and make a ruckus with one saying in regards to the other "if you do not listen to her, your event will be shut down!" The audience began to boo the two women and even demand that the police present take action (which, significant to note, despite their presence they took no action). As this wasn't the main event of the day, organizers for the campaign were caught very off guard in handling of the situation. After a minute of chaos, a campaign staff member came to the mic and told the two women that despite their intrusion they would be allowed to speak after Senator Sanders. Upon hearing this, the two become irate and went into physical tantrum as, while the speaker said "we're trying to be reasonable," they violently swung their heads screaming "we are being reasonable!" As the scene descended into total chaos, Senator Sanders left the stage to be on his way, remarking "black lives, of course, matter. I spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and for dignity. But if you don't want me to be here, that's okay. I don't want to outscream people."
This disturbance begged many questions. Of all candidates to disrupt, Bernie Sanders is the least deserving on this issue (or most, if not all, issues for that matter). Bernie Sanders began his political activism in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and was in attendance to the "I Have A Dream" speach by Martin L. King, Jr. and has long been an outspoken critic of structural racism. Hillary Clinton, an agent of Wall Street and internationally infamous warmonger, has repeatedly made remarks that raise deep doubts on her willingness to address the problems of racism. And need we get into Donald Trump and the reactionary filth of the modern Republican Party? Clearly trying to shut down the Bernie Sanders campaign under these circumstances is not a tactic that would promote the aims of BLM.
In the hours that followed, the actions of the two agents provocateurs were very widely condemned by the broader left as destructive to the cause they claimed to be advocating. Many heavily trafficked BLM sites were flooded with brigades of critics to which they expressed their condemnation. It was later revealed on reddit that one of the two agents is Marisa Johnson, a woman known to be mentally unstable, being described by a former classmate as "the most insane person I have ever met in my life." While the extent of her involvement in the BLM organizing efforts in Seattle remains unclear, many locals said that this kind of upstaging by agents provocateurs is common at BLM and other rallies.
While it now is quite clear after analysis of the circumstances that this disruption was a contrived attempt to belligerently hammer a wedge into the left between Bernie's potential supporters, many activists have taken the bait. Some groups have said that this shows the 'problematic' arrogance of white people to react to this disturbance with criticism rather than total and unconditional support, while others have gone so far as to say that this revealed a deep underlying white supremacy in the left.
The struggle against racism and police brutality is essential to the struggle against capitalism in America. If Black Lives Matter wants to continue to be taken seriously as an anti-racist movement, then its advocates have to stop expecting total immunity from criticism on its tactics. While most people associated with its organizing efforts have condemned the agents in Seattle, the knee-jerk reaction by others to cry racism in the face of criticism and defend them shows major lacking of scientific socialism in the underlying ideological premise of the movement.
Naturally, criticism can be hard to swallow when passions are high. As Americans, we live in a society with a long history of racism and its disgusting social manifestations, which makes it easy to interperate genuinely constrive criticisms as being sympathetic to racism, especially on the open internet where such criticism can be caught between destructive reactionary propaganda. In being receptive to constructive criticism, it is the content of such criticism that should exclusively determine its merit -- not the skin color of the person who expresses it. There's a lot of work to do in mobilizing the masses towards American socialism, and at present the Bernie Sanders campaign serves as a useful vehicle for consolidating socialist efforts into one front. Some people might not agree with this tactic, and that's okay. We should keep all avenues open and through scientific experimentation pursue that which is proven successful. What's not okay is socialists deliberately sabotaging the efforts of other socialists. When this is done, saboteurs are acting as agents provocateurs for anti-social reaction and thus make themselves enemies of the people and of the revolution.
In order to make clear his stance on confronting racism in America, the Bernie Sanders campaign released an official article on the subject. You can read it here.