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For the week of Dec. 8, 1999 through Dec. 14, 1999

Simplistic rage and theatrics in Seattle

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

As an ill-tempered Hailey man discovered a few days ago, it’s not easy picking out villains when in a rage.

This cranky citizen grabbed a phone directory, shouted about the publisher "killing the trees," and hurled it at a woman he believed was is a directory employee.

Alas, the victim who got bopped owns a dry cleaning establishment.

And so it was with the angry demonstrators swirling around Seattle streets, clashing with police, trying to shut down the World Trade Organization conference and spewing invectives about villainous, greedy corporate internationalists insensitively globalizing commerce at the expense of environment and workers.

The Seattle street people revealed just how simplistic their rage at the very least amounted to hollow and ill-aimed theatrics.

As they shrieked their anger at "globalization," the most violent protestors forgot this—they’re beneficiaries and users of that evil globalization. They network with each other throughout the United States and the rest of the world on sophisticated e-mail or FAX communications systems built by corporations using global space technology.

Demonstrators from abroad traveled to Seattle on globalized airlines relying on globalized air traffic control and globalized satellite weather forecasting.

And my hunch is that the youngest of the shrieking, masked protestors come from households whose livelihoods depend on corporate profits that pay salaries or stock dividends to families who, in turn, subsidize their kids’ itinerant anarchism.

Mind you, I’m second to none in disgust at what some corporations are doing to the human spirit and Mother Nature’s treasures without a scintilla of social conscience. But smashing a Seattle fast food joint’s windows won’t spare the environment from industrial ruin or rescue workers from Third World slave conditions or change trade policies in Uganda.

There are other ways, pursued vigorously every day by activists with the same passion for causes as the Seattle street mobs, but who understand the importance of civility and have a clearer vision of their purpose. They sue in court, they lobby powerbrokers, they get themselves named to corporate boards (a former Green Peace executive is an environmental executive consultant with the DuPont corporation), they promote classes for the young in schools.

Coincidentally, one of the exemplars of that civil approach was in the Wood River Valley over the weekend, passionately laying out his own views on how to rescue the globe from merciless abuse.

Professor Roderick Nash—teacher, outdoorsman extraordinaire and one of the best friends nature has on its side—chooses to crusade with intelligence rather than willful destruction. He’s written 10 books that are manuals for shaping American political and corporate thought about man’s responsibility to the environment.

But Professor Nash gets the job done without a mask, which, as the worst of the Seattle mob showed, is the required uniform of low IQ anarchists getting a high with the only idea they have of how to work for change—a crowbar in their fists.

Pat Murphy is the retired publisher of the Arizona Republic and a former radio commentator.


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Copyright 1999 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.