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Beyond Bullets: The Suppression of Dissent in the United States Paperback – May 1, 2007
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How does it work? Boykoff describes the methods and gives examples. He starts with the obvious one: Direct Violence, most often used against people of color in groups like the Black Panthers, AIM, the Young Lords, and others. This involves direct assassinations and attacks, like the killing of Fred Hampton in Chicago by the Chicago police or the attack by FBI agents at Pine Ridge that Leonard Peltier was framed for. The next method he examines is Public Hearings and Prosecutions, like those used against dissidents in the 1950s to frame any radicals as "Communists". These hearings mainly targeted labor activists who had just initiated a huge strike involving 2 million people in 1946 and Hollywood intellectuals and workers involved in the film industry. Senator Joseph McCarthy led a crusade against anyone who dared speak out against the Cold War or capitalism, framing the hearings so that only friendly witnesses were allowed to speak and dissident witnesses were routinely cut off. This was a way to whip up support for the Cold War and squelch the rising labor movement by blaming it on the tiny Communist Party USA. Part of the same routine is to Deny Employment, or blacklist dissidents, as occurred when Angela Davis was fired from UCLA in 1970 in response to the demand of Governor Ronald Reagan. Arresting dissidents on trumped up or rarely enforced charges also saps the energy of activists. They are put on the defensive in the courtroom where resolution can take years. The mass arrests of global justice demonstrators outside of the World Bank meetings in September 2002 tied hundreds of people to the courts for years. This intimidates people from expressing their opinion and puts a black mark on their criminal record.
Surveillance and Break-ins rank highly in the bag of dirty tricks to suppress dissent, especially in the FBI-run COINTELPRO program which operated until the mid 1970s to smash the "New Left". Martin Luther King and the Southern Poverty Leadership Conference were targeted as Communist-groups for neutralization to prevent the rise of "a black messiah". From there, they turned on any Communists (active or not members) in close company with King, taped affairs that King was having, and sent threatening letters demanding that King commit suicide. The FBI broke into Civil Rights organization offices many times for the purpose of planting warrentless wiretaps. In general, Civil Rights leaders always knew that the FBI, with its "red" obsessed director in Edgar Hoover, was watching them closely and would pounce at any embarrassment.
Actually infiltrating groups with Agent Provocateurs and trying to steer their direction, placing informants in groups, and trying to make people think that leaders of groups are actually FBI agents, a process known as "Badjacketing", stand out as more direct ways that the FBI used and uses to suppress dissent. Douglas Durham infiltrated the American Indian Movement (AIM), and steered it towards aggressive violence, opening fighting with other left-wing groups. Within two years, Durham's actions had fragmented AIM as a group. In the case of Anna Mae Aquash, Boycoff shows, the loss of trust by her AIM group because of FBI badjacketing directly led to her suicide. Even further, "Black Propaganda", or false hostile mail sent by the FBI in the name of one group to another with the intent to raise conflict between the two groups, led the Black Panther Party and the United Slaves (a black nationalist cultural organization) to actually start attacking each other, leading to the deaths of several members in both groups. The FBI also mailed a fake cartoon to a mostly Black political group in DC supposedly from a mostly white group, telling them to "suck my banana, you monkeys."
The final piece of suppression of dissent is the way the media, closely tied with corporations and the state, marginalizes and minimizes dissident movements. Most recently, protesters in 1999 against the World Trade Organization and subsequent anti-corporate globalization found that their views became news a way that didn't focus on the issues (as Boykoff shows in a study of major newspapers and television news). Instead, stories reported that organizers only got a few hundred people (even in cases where the number was much higher, that freaks and weirdos showed up to protests, that the message wasn't clear, and that protesters sought uninformed violence and often didn't know anything about the issues (as portrayed by the media, anyway.)) Boykoff moves into examples of suppression of dissent in recent years, such as the "Green Scare" in which anti-terrorism laws are used against militant environmental dissidents, even to the point of having an FBI infiltrator ("Anna") lead a group to almost bombing a cell phone tower and then giving one of the participants, Eric McDavid, a draconian prison sentence of 20 years for a crime that never happened. Anyone interested in being informed instead of paranoid should pick up this book, because this could happen to anyone who speaks out against the state and capitalism.