Saturday, February 04, 2006

More Koufax

I hit the jackpot, I do believe. Continuing my search through the Best Post awards over at Wampum, I found this terrific article post about Rosa Parks, Misremembered at a blog I've never heard of called Little Wild Bouguet.

The myth of Parks as a pre-political seamstress who was too physically worn out to move has such staying power not because there's any factual basis but because it appeals to an all-too popular narrative about how social change happens in America: When things get bad enough, an individual steps up alone, unsupported and unmediated, and spontaneously resists. And then an equally spontaneous movement follows. Such a myth makes good TV, but it's poor history.

Movement-building takes hard work, no matter how righteous the cause or how desperate the circumstances.

No shit, Sherlock! This is why I find it hard to join in on bashing political movements that are not perfect, whether it's the dust up over ANSWER vs. UFPJ or the left and right wings of the Environmental movement or the various housing rights advocates locally. There will always be political differences between activists working for any cause, but the one thing you can be sure of is that the majority of activist work is just that: work. It takes time, tenacity and just plain hard work, for the most part unpaid and unappreciated.

Those folks who said they would never march in an ANSWER-organized protest again because some ANSWER volunteers have some political believes that differ from their own are forgetting the hard work and dedication that goes into building a mass movement. It is extremely selfish and just plain stupid. To claim your political experience is ruined by having to listen to somebody talk about something you aren't personally invested in (North Korea, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Palestine) is to ignore all the hard work of all the people who have come together for a cause.

But in America, there is a tendency to want to believe in individualism, even when in a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people. If you're going to a demonstration to fulfill your own personal needs, you are missing the point.