To the editor:
Re: "Pantages foes need to check their heads," April 27.
Allen Garr's attack-piece on the low income community in the Downtown Eastside is done with an old propagandist technique of criticizing social movements through individual smear. The principle of this methodology is that individuals are more vulnerable to insult, mockery, and dismissal than complex and heterogeneous social movements. When it is done well this method enables the powerful classes to scoff self-righteously at the downtrodden for being "bullies" and "thugs" undeserving of their attention. It also obscures the social and political reasons for a social movement's being and that movement's political and social demands with the unattractive figure of a problem person.
Unfortunately with this screed poor Garr joins a less-than prestigious club. In 2002 none-less than then-premier Gordon Campbell called me a "thug" after a police riot attacked an elderly man dressed as a clown and a high school boy just out of class. Worse even than bed fellowing with Campbell are the ideas that Garr so comfortably cozies with in order to stand up (and take down) one able-bodied white man as the "lead thug" of the most diverse, women-led, multi-racial, oppressed peoples' movement in the city.
The year-long campaign against Sequel 138 condos was organized by the Downtown Eastside Not for Developers coalition, made up of nine organizations representing thousands of Downtown Eastside residents, where Garr's fantasy lone white man leader would feel lonely, out-of place, and unwelcome. Over the course of its year-long campaign the coalition has organized a few theatrical performances, dozens of public actions, nearly a hundred meetings, and published thousands of pages of pamphlets and articles about Sequel 138. In all this work it has principally been women, and many aboriginal women, who have occupied positions of leadership.
Maybe Garr can only imagine a world where one powerful white man directs, manipulates and controls a whole community to raise hell in single heroic acts... but the world we live in here in the Downtown Eastside is much more interesting, beautiful, real, and powerful than that. If he had bothered to look into it for 30 seconds, rather than rely on the "accounts" of a few haters, these dynamics would have been obvious. Maybe it is our community's threat to Garr's white-man-centric worldview that has frozen his research and journalistic ethics.
Garr should apologize for his unscrupulous smear job on an important campaign by an impressive coalition in the most embattled community in the city, and he should check his patriarchal, white-racelens world view.
Ivan Drury, Vancouver