WAR OF THE FLEA
MASS PROTEST DIDN’T STOP WAR IN IRAQ. IT WON’T STOP WAR IN IRAN. HERE’S HOW WE CHANGE THAT.
BY STEVEN T. BRAMBLE
Listen to Benny Stewart, chairman of the Black Student Union at San Francisco State in 1968, addressing protestors during the longest strike in U.S. student history. (Which, it might be worth it to note by the end of this article, resulted in them winning the first College of Ethnic Studies in the entire country.)
“From our analysis…we think we have developed a technique…for a prolonged struggle. We call it the war of the flea. What does the flea do? He bites, he slowly sucks blood from the dog…We are the majority and the pigs cannot be everywhere, everyplace all the time. And where they are not, we are…Toilets are stopped up. Pipes are out. Water in the bathroom is just running all over the place. Smoke is coming out of the bathroom. Trash cans are on fire.”
We are on the verge of, or currently facing down, war in Iran, a coup in Venezuela, a reversal of Roe v. Wade, reduction of blue-state representation in Congress, family concentration camps on the southern border, and near-total species die-off. As soon as the polls closed like a casket in 2016, this was always what was going to happen. Now it’s here, and it may soon be past the time when we can simply sit back and wait for a white male centrist Democrat to swoop in and save us.
If you’re tuning in to podcast world, it’s been a bit frustrating how squeamish most political hosts have been to harsh everyones’ buzz and say plainly what a conflict with Iran could mean. It could potentially mean another world war. Military intelligence has been reporting since 2015 that the game theory in the Middle East is so complex that the only precedent for it was the configuration of hostilities directly prior to WWI.
In addition, it could mean Trump’s reelection. Historically, every single war in the U.S. has led to the strengthening of the sitting president. This one would be no different.
So then what do we do? Go out in the streets and march? You could, and it would be admirable, but it would also be utterly ineffective. Look how massive the outcry was in 2003, just before Iraq. We are still fighting there almost 20 years later. Instead, I propose we conduct the war of the flea.
No, not that War of the Flea. Benny Stewart’s war of the flea. A war equally as militant, but without violence.
Know where the office of a Republican lawmaker is? Go dump your trash outside their building. Know where their homes are? Dump it on their precious lawns, or their porches, or on their car. Do it when nobody’s around and when you won’t get caught. After all, every single one of us that goes to jail (or, nowadays, possibly prison) for protesting in the street is just one more of our number lost. Know where a military base is? Save up all your empty alcohol containers and dump them on the road vehicles take to enter.
And, really, how could Republicans be mad? Isn’t ‘fuck the environment’ practically like their clarion call? Let’s see how they like it when we turn their neighborhoods into trash heaps. Maybe, at worst, we get some littering tickets.
Trash is our ammunition. We have it in abundance and it costs us nothing. For them, it would be the sheer face of horror. Dumping trash is quick, doesn’t take much organizing at all, and would create a problem so distasteful and intractable for constituencies and party officials that it would undoubtedly cause pressure in Washington.
This strategy could easily translate to the struggle against anti-abortionists, too. Got a fake family planning center in your neighborhood? Looks like you’ve got a new landfill site. Or how about someone you know who campaigns for, or donates to, such causes? Wouldn’t it just be great, if nothing else, to see them have to clean up our shit? We’re always cleaning up theirs—why not repay the favor?
Perhaps the trash war escalates. Both sides are dumping their trash on the streets. In this backwards-ass, fucked-up country, that would be considered a pandemonium far less acceptable than actual political bloodshed.
Of course, what’s most likely to happen is that we all sit back, mostly ignore the reporting of another genocidal war, and hope like hell that one of nearly thirty blue candidates unseats Trump. Hopefully the war won’t materialize. And yet, what reason do we have—truly have, aside from just blind optimism (I’ve heard some call it faith now and then, but we all know what faith rather than action gets us)—to expect that things won’t get worse?
Well, at least not worse for us, right?
I’ve been to the marches, and the unfortunate, inconvenient truth is that, by and large, they don’t get the job done. So, speaking for myself, if war does break out with Iran, I think I’m gonna give the war of the flea a shot.