This morning, a number of homes across the U.S. were served with search warrants. Computers and phones were confiscated and fourteen people in their teens and early 20’s were arrested and charged with being Anonymous.
The raids were carried out in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio, and the charges weren’t simply for being in a club. They were for abiding by club rules.
Specifically, the youth were charged for their roles in the Denial of Service attacks against Paypal, Ebay’s subsidiary. Anonymous froze their web presence because Paypal chose to freeze the account of Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange as he was being persecuted for his role in releasing information considered embarrassing and harmful to US international operations.
What Anonymous is doing is illegal according to US law, so stuff like this par for their course. Not even they can complain that they’ve been swept up. But they wouldn’t complain. They’re all willing to take falls for the cause they hold dear. There is some recent history in America that really set the stage for what Anonymous is doing, why they’re doing it, and in what context it might be seen in. You have to look back only to a similar movement in the 1960’s.
Civil rights wouldn’t have been able to move mountains if the Freedom Riders weren’t willing to sacrifice their freedom for the sake of everyone else’s. These were people willing to challenge unjust laws, riding with blacks and whites on the same bus, blacks eating in white-only restaurants. All of these heroes were willing to be ripped apart with unforgiving streams of water from fire hoses, be attacked by ravenous police dogs, be beaten with clubs, and shot in the street in order that good triumph over evil. I look at these people with a reverence that can hardly be put into words, and I look at the members of Anonymous with similar respect.
This young and idealistic collective of young thinkers and doers really believe in what they’re doing. They believe in the purity of their intentions and actions as a tonic to a system that has become, in their eyes, so institutionally corrupt that exposing it through their kind of campaigns is the only way to quite literally save humanity. The U.S. government and corporate-owned media would have you believe that they’re terrorists or anarchists, but if you separate yourself from all propaganda, you’ll see them as history will remember them.
This degree of idealism . . . can you yourself honestly imagine the kind of commitment to a greater good that defined the Freedom Riders and is now shared by the young pioneers of Anonymous? An article was published in a magazine recently comparing the hive collective of Anonymous to what can only be looked at as almost an ideal democracy. This network of activists announces a campaign, and people do it, or they don’t. No one is forced to participate, and what is just meets destiny through collective action. The whole comes to a unified course of action to protect the sanctity of the collective’s health. Pure democracy with no government that can be corrupted by the bribery of corporations.
Regardless of your opinion concerning how they do what they’re doing, Anonymous is truly one of the most interesting convergences of ideas and people of our time. Maybe it’s their loyalty to all regardless of where they were born. Maybe it’s that it’s completely non-violent. Perhaps it’s the mystery they’re sheathed in. Maybe all of that. But, you almost can’t help feeling that they’re us. We are our own Robin Hood in this movie.
Remember as much as you can about these folk, because they’re more historically significant than might be obvious right now. Like the Freedom Riders were in ’64. Civil rights, and all the monumental players in that great epic were way down on a list of more important things going on in the American collective consciousness. It was just an annoying buzzy little fly to shoo away for Kennedy. Just like this is. All of the players: Manning. Julian. EVERY one of the ones arrested in these Anonymous raids — suck in as much of it as you can right now so you can appreciate the texture, as well as the flavor the way you deserve it as it becomes Thanksgiving Dinner.
1. “Alleged Anonymous members arrested in hacker attacks” Los Angeles Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/07/fbi-arrest-16-for-cyber-crimes-many-belived-to-be-anonymous-members.html
2. “Freedom Riders: Threatened, Attacked, Jailed” PBS: www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/freedomriders/