Key Takeaways from March 24 Organizing Meeting

By: Harry Waisbren

Our latest Patriot Act and FISA call and online chat went very well as we further discussed how to set up our foundation for the long haul, and what we need to strategically do to become increasingly effective.

In that vein, Sally published a post on our new mission and vision statements that is very worthwhile to check out, and you can find other key takeaways from the call below:

  • Mark discussed the resurgence of Organizing for America during the healthcare fight, and he has continued to keep us updated as far as they go. He was very impressed with their recent work, and generally has received the impression that there is a recognition about the mistakes made in regards to the social network. We’ll continue monitoring this as closely as we can, and would love ideas (and especially help) to ensure our OFA presence (or whatever social network they move to) thrives!
  • Mark also got a hold of staffers for both Judiciary committees and was told to expect nothing legislatively until the next couple of months, if ever, before the election.
  • Bob brought up the pending retirement of one of the FISA fight’s earliest champions, Sen. Chris Dodd, and questioned whether his concluding senatorial career and desire for a lasting legacy could be leveraged into an even greater level of championship in his dwindling time in office. Mark is researching Dodd’s FISA speeches from the senate floor, and generally this could be something we pay increasing attention to as we strive for new proponents with backbones and guts on this issue!
  • Bob also relayed a report from the ACLU on data mining that “indicates the NSA has effectively revived the Orwellian Total Information Awareness domestic-spying program that was banned by Congress in 2003.” Clearly, something for us to keep in mind as well…
  • We discussed the Tea Party movement and the recent slew of racist tirades and series of threats and acts of violence that have followed the conclusion of the health care debate. Jim also provoked discussion of this within the OFA mail listserv, and it is something for us to take very seriously given our continuing efforts to reach across the aisle to likeminded libertarians. The key for us is to find those who we can work with in good faith whose primary concerns relate to civil liberties and the constitution, but we must not be naive to the existence of the radical elements that have become increasingly empowered and enflamed who do not share our democratic values of liberty for all.
  • The connection of equality to civil liberties could especially come to ahead given the diversified coalition the BORDC is working to establish through their local initiatives. We need to ensure we are welcoming to any and every ethnicity and demographic group in general, which is why I personally am so excited to see the next steps from the BORDC!
  • Lastly, post-meeting, Bob wrote a few comments asking questions about the future of Get FISA Right and citing the Facebook meeting stats of attendees vs maybe attendees as a rationale for dissolving our organization in the name of pragmatism. To this point, although we all should recognize the degree of disillusionment that has flourished in the wake of Obama’s capitulation both before the election on FISA and this past winter on the Patriot Act, I disagree wholeheartedly with the suggestion that we look for other organizations to take us in and that there are any irredeemable signs of organizational weakness. This is because, more than anything, we are a community, one that began on the MyBO list serv but has since been spread across the spectrum both in terms of our communications structures as well as the diversity of our differing ideologies. We are a community that has been meeting consistently and continually progressing, all while staying on the cutting edge of new media activism to do anything we can to push this issue into mainstream political discourse—-as we did before! Our numbers have ebbed and flowed in terms of participants and effort extended to the cause, mostly reflected by the legislative calendar, and although I completely understand Bob’s frustration, I think we should remember why Get FISA Right is a different organization from the other ones doing fantastic work, take stock in what we have achieved, and strategize for the fights ahead accordingly.

Thanks to Bob and Mark for joining the meeting, to Salli for posting our mission and vision statements, and Jim for instigating post-meeting conversation on the list serv, and to the entirety of our community for your attention, perseverance, and support in this effort!

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4 Responses to Key Takeaways from March 24 Organizing Meeting

  1. Sally G says:

    My apologies to the members on the call for not being able to participate; I had another meeting that I couldn’t miss. I was hoping that others would be late, but no such luck.
    Anyway, I have read Jim’s recent notes on the OfA mailing list, and of his personal connection to Patriots’ Day in Concord. He has my full respect for his decisions. For the rest of us, not “at the scene”, as it were, I do think the day offers an opportunity to discuss why we are, to use Jim’s term, Patriots against the “Patriot Act”—not in an inflammatory way, or in a situation in which violence might erupt, but explaining to those who are unaware of the holiday just what it represents (Do they still read “Paul Revere’s Ride” in school?) and how far the country has drifted from those ideals.
    I would trade in the current commercial “Presidents’ Day” for a national holiday on Patriots’Day in a “New York minute” if I thought it would be honored by anything more than shopping and lip service (and maybe a parade).
    I am thinking about wearing my “Standing on the Side of Love” T-shirt that day and explaining that I stand on the side of love with those whose rights have been violated by the federal government in the name of fighting terrorism.
    Since I live near the ’76 House Restaurant in Old Tappan, N.Y., documented as the nation’s first tavern and site of many meetings between General Washington and leaders of the Revolution (midpoint between Fort Lee, N.J. and West Point, N.Y. on the Hudson River; hence on the front lines), I may have dinner there and, if I get the nerve, start a discussion of why I chose that day for a visit.

  2. harrywaisbren says:

    Don’t worry about missing the call Sally, and thanks so much for contributing your thoughts and ideas here!

    Definitely agree about full respect for Jim’s decisions. I have a history with practionerers of non-violent direct action (mostly for anti-war organizing but increasingly DADT), but even the more committed to it recognize the cost inherent within. Not something to be taken lightly—especially if violence is a fear.

    I also LOVE your idea about your “Standing on the Side of Love” T-shirt and explaining how you “stand on the side of love with those whose rights have been violated by the federal government in the name of fighting terrorism.” Whether you get the nerve or not to confront those who may be confrontational to those notions, I think the act and thougths behind it are well worth a blog post and discussion amongst our community!

  3. Sallijane says:

    The Standing on the Side of Love campaign has its own Web site, appropriately enough, http://www.standingonthesideoflove.org. It has mainly focused on marriage equality and immigration issues, but I always like to push the envelope. The main thrust of the campaign, as it was described at one workshop, is to look at all issues and actions through the lens of love, and to choose the side, if side there is, that is most loving, collectively or individually.

  4. harrywaisbren says:

    You know, I’m not sure if it necessarily pushes the envelope so much, as we have specifically been talking with Shahid of BORDC about their engagement of immigration rights groups for their upcoming local civil liberties initiatives.

    Immigrants have a very serious interest in ensuring rights are upheld, especially considering how easy it is to demonize them.

    A “lens of love”, in contrast, humanizes individuals, and makes “spying on populations” rather than people (as Julian Sanchez of Cato puts it) that much less acceptable.

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