For as long as violence, crime, and perfidy in the name of “social justice” has been a sort of rite of passage for young, white, middle-class Americans who obey their professors, it has been framed as “activism” that, although unhelpful, is somehow proportionate to imagined abuses committed by chimeric right-wing cabals lurking always behind them as they speak drunkenly about President Bush being Hitler in some live/work space located in a newly gentrified corner of the city. White kid crime is “speech,” somehow.

In this case [“But Can He Hack Prison?” August 19] we are presented with a carefully disheveled young waif. You’d think the stakes would be low enough in defending Hammond that nobody would have bothered hanging the frame of “activism” upon his deeds. But the story is big in local flavor, so I suppose it had to be covered, and nobody from ProtestWarrior delivered a piece on the hacking incident to the Reader, so I can’t justifiably be surprised that it was covered the way it was.

I have been involved with ProtestWarrior in Chicago for something close to two years. Since the attacks detailed in the piece were committed against someone else’s Web site, the only further light I can shed on the incident is that it came about towards the end of an escalating string of attacks from social justice activists in Chicago which were intended to intimidate, threaten, and harass my friends and me. In fact, the threat to shut down our Web site was first announced to PW in Chicago in March of 2004. The exact date of the attack was given, indicating that it had been planned for some time.

Prior to the anti-Iraq-war demonstration at which the threat was unveiled, PW had no chapter in Chicago. The chapter formed only after a pro-American rally held earlier that year, which was organized independently of both PW and the extreme left, was counterprotested by the social justice movement in Chicago. Their rude and excessive behavior that day presaged a consistent campaign of attacking first and then redirecting blame, to the victim, which only grew more egregious over time.

Shortly prior to the 2004 RNC in New York I received an unsolicited phone call anonymously warning me that I was “surrounded” and that I shouldn’t go to New York. I soon discovered that my name, along with my home address and phone number, had been posted to the Web site from which the buses that would take protesters to the RNC were being organized.

Sometime later a video was published with the names, home addresses, phone numbers, and faces of about ten Chicago-based center-right activists. The video ended with an animation of the PW logo being shot up with a gun. The video began with images of swastikas and Nazis, recalling incidents which occurred throughout the country during the 2004 election, in which social justice activists used gasoline to burn large swastikas into the lawns of Republican voters.

The whole business of “outing” Republicans has been a revealing fixation of theirs. Another unrelated example would be the publishing of the names of RNC delegates and the location of their hotels alongside the cloddish incitement that “the world isn’t dying, it’s being killed, and the people killing it have addresses and phone numbers.” But aside from the threat of malicious spam, no one was really concerned about being identified as PW members. While the social justice movement covers their faces with bandannas when speaking their truest convictions or shriek about “persecution” whenever their message, means, motives, and associations are called into criticism, those of us who have gone out into the street with our support for the U.S.’s prosecution of a war against terror haven’t seen the need for such protections.

I’ve been physically assaulted; women who have stood with us have been physically assaulted. Last fall one woman who was to join us at an army recruitment facility was too frightened to leave her car as she put it in park, as it was immediately attacked by several male social justice activists, who pounded on the hood and screamed at her.

Others found that disagreement crosses a jealously assumed consensus pervasive in the city and since have fallen into line and into silence. We have been libeled. The anticipated charge that activists from the center-right are agents of the CIA circulates. Early on, a tremendous lie was constructed and published, complete with doctored images, alleging that ProtestWarrior was once an organization called White Power, just prior to February of 2003. This claim was circulated despite the facts that only a little over half of Chicago PWs were white at the time the claim was made and that ProtestWarrior didn’t exist as a national organization until long after February 2003. It’s also a non sequitur, since white nationalist groups oppose the war in Iraq, sharing with progressives the notion that we are fighting a “war for Israel” which is orchestrated by a “Zionist cabal.” David Duke just recently published his statement of support for Cindy Sheehan’s bid for a second meeting with the president.

By saying that, it’s not my intention to convey that progressives and Nazis are the same thing, but rather I mention it in the hopes that we can bring the rhetoric back down to reality. About 80 percent of these spasms of hatred from the social justice movement are indeed just words, but words move men to deeds. If we are to equate our brothers, sisters, friends, and neighbors with Adolf Hitler simply because they have their own opinions, then we grant ourselves license to treat them like any morally firm person would treat Adolf Hitler. All of the times we have been threatened and attacked I’ve never doubted that the attacker was acting with the approval of their own conscience and felt that whatever crimes may be committed against us would be only half of what we deserved; all for breaking the mirage of consensus which hovers over our cities. This righteous, self-justified atavism is worthy of serious concern.

I fail to see where the “prank” is in joining a public demonstration with an opposing viewpoint. It’s true that a lot of PW’s work involves humor, but I hardly see how that differentiates us from anti-Iraq-war activists, who themselves attempt humor with their signage; “Buck Fush,” for example. A lot of this misanthropy does happen through the conduit that Indymediacenter provides, and each time they’ve respectfully been made aware of it they have responded by rebuffing us with claims of cherishing free speech while deleting our criticisms from their site. Conversely, Elac of was condemned and expunged from PW for his ill-advised retaliation against Indymedia.

I hope from this readers can understand the entire story in a fuller context, which is not confined merely to the walls of Jeremy’s living room, allowing us to better see all of the pertinent circumstances which have led Jeremy Hammond to pose coquettishly on his couch with his gaze theatrically fixed upon the horizon for the Reader’s photographers.

Justin Fleming

ProtestWarrior, Chicago Chapter

Fighting the left . . . doing it right . . . in the Windy City