Bum-Rushing the Bulldozers
In San Leandro a bunch of terror enabling fans of Rachel Corrie staged a monumentally stupid assault on a Caterpillar dealership. The East Bay Express, an alternative weekly, treats the story with all the seriousness it deserves: Bum-Rushing the Bulldozers. (Hat tip: veebee.)
The square building’s interior was cool from the air conditioning. The lead protesters passed the receptionist’s desk and surrounded the square cubicle station directly behind her, which housed about six file clerks, mostly middle-aged women who wore sensible clothes and had framed pictures of their children on their desks, but were now crowded by strangers reading Jewish prayers and holding lit candles. One clerk stood dumbfounded, a brown file in her right hand dangling at her side, and her mouth gaping open as if thinking: Why do these people have a problem with me? I don’t even work for Caterpillar.
A few men in suits and ties came out to the front, then walked back down the hallway and closed their doors. For a few seconds, the activists just stood there. One positioned a large cardboard poster of a smiling Rachel Corrie on the receptionist’s desk. Others decided the candles might set off the fire alarms, and yelled to everyone to blow them out, which merely caused a plume of smoke to waft through the office.
Finally, a short man in a yellow oxford shirt appeared and asked the lead organizer to direct his minions to leave the building. The man would identify himself only as a controller, and he pointed out that business was being disturbed.
“Caterpillar bulldozers disturb Palestinian lives every day,” one protester countered, to applause.
The lead organizer read his demands aloud. He likened Caterpillar bulldozers to weapons of mass destruction and considered the company culpable in Corrie’s death, then held the company’s shareholders and employees all but responsible for the devastation taking place a hemisphere away. One clerk turned up the volume on her radio. The organizer spoke louder.
The workers inside the cubicle believed they were the victims of a misdirected effort. One woman said to her colleague, “This isn’t going to help one bit, I tell you that much.” Her colleague nodded in agreement, with a look of such bitterness that it seemed as if she’d been forever turned off to the activists’ cause, as if personally insulted by their righteous implications. Why do these people have a problem with me? I don’t even work for Caterpillar.
The protesters believed they’d scored a good one. As they exited the office, just ahead of two arriving police officers, they were pumped up with pride. They’d established that yes, this was a serious campaign, and they left with the hope that the yellow-shirted controller would tell his boss all about his uncomfortable afternoon, who would tell his supplier, who would tell his boss, who would tell his, who would tell his. Until one day, Caterpillar stopped selling bulldozers to Israel.
“Hey, you guys,” one female organizer shouted as they left the building, “let’s go back to Starbucks and debrief.”
UPDATE: These tools actually have a video of the event at their web site: Jewish Voice for Peace. It’s an unbelievably pathetic 18.5 Meg Quicktime file. I wonder how many people would have to view it to max out their bandwidth allotment?