DO YOU MIND LETTING the long arm of Donald Rumsfeld systematically canvas schools for recruitment opportunities? Are kids learning a whitewashed, white-male version of history? Do teachers have the tools they need to do their job?
In an effort to discuss these questions, Loveland is hosting Steal This Festival, a day for organizers and activists, but also for concerned parents and mentors. If you participate in your child's education and believe that quality teaching aids are more important than new storefronts on Burnside and Couch, then Steal This Festival is for you. If you don't want the military perusing the schools, filling teenagers' heads with war propaganda and false ideals, Steal This Festival is for you too. If you think it's bullshit that the government preys on naiveté and testosterone with a wink and a smile, then sends kids off to play a small cog and possibly get a bullet through the neck, then Steal This Festival wants you there. It's about our kids—educating them and protecting them.
The festival promises "a full day of bands, speakers, films, and workshops, with proceeds to benefit counter-military recruitment and the purchase of radical resources for local teachers." Earnings from the door will aid in setting up a teachers' account with Laughing Horse Books, giving classrooms access to references outside of the watered-down state-approved texts, and will also support Recruiter Watch PDX, who monitor the government's sharp-dressed, silver-tongued sharks.
Bands include Seattle's These Arms Are Snakes, Zookeeper's Chris Simpson, Utah's Parallax, local hardcore act Life and Limb, punkers Riot Cop, Vancouver's Brutal Fight, and freak show band Slam Dunk.
Headlining the festival is keynote speaker Mark Rudd, longtime antiwar organizer and founder of the revolutionary Weathermen Underground. Rudd established the Weathermen in the face of the Vietnam War and government assassinations on Black Panther leaders, but left shortly after their formation, breaking with their philosophy of violence. He was quick to learn that violent activism plays into the hands of the authorities, demonizing activists and alienating popular support.
Says Rudd, "One of the most concrete things we can do to end the war is starve the military of its recruits... When the military doesn't have the manpower, it just can't fight the war... The Festival's purpose in raising money for counter-recruitment is a wonderful thing—it may even save thousands or hundreds of thousands of lives."
Local teacher John Linder will also speak, as will community organizer Jay Boss Rubin, and there'll be a showing of the WTO-demonstration documentary This is What Democracy Looks Like. In addition to Recruiter Watch PDX and Laughing Horse Books, Steal This Festival will host tables by Microcosm, the Tacoma chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, the Bus Project, Food Fight!, Portland ISO, the Open Media Center, PCASC, and the Community Independence Project.
This is an easy sell, folks. Don't want your kids growing up believing in a bullshit version of history and international events? Don't want your sons and daughters to play a pawn in America's live-ammo version of Risk? Come down to Steal This Festival, join the dialogue. You can't complain unless you participate.