Nonviolence, Media Freedom, Egypt and Fiji

February 20, 2011
“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.”
T.E. Lawrence

Post by Dr Mark Hayes (Brisbane)

Browsing the dead tree edition of the Sydney Morning Herald for February 19, 2011, at Page 13, my weary eye chanced upon an article tagged ‘Inspiration’, headlined ‘Unassuming author helps write history‘ by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and sourced to the New York Times. Me being me, and always ‘going to the source’, I energized the mighty MacBook Pro and tracked down the original article. The New York Times helpfully assembles resources and other background materials so start there.

Some focused Googling (excuse the irritating neologism  😦  ) added quite a few other materials to my trawl on Gene Sharp, including this long interview on a US public radio station (13.3 Meg MP3; excuse the irritating donation pleas) and a fairly recent edited interview on YouTube.

This last item was occasioned after Gene was ‘outed’ as an American agent funded by the CIA to destabilize Iran, Venezuela, and generally being a Bush administration stooge. Several sources promptly, and vigorously, debunked this nonsense.

The genial Gene Sharp

However, the ‘Gene Sharp is a CIA agent’ fantasy surfaced again in Fiji in June, 2008, when then Fiji Human Rights Commissioner, Dr Shaista Shameem, released a report (2.41 Meg PDF) into the deportations of Fiji Sun publisher, Russell Hunter, and later, Fiji Times publisher, Evan Hannah, which, among many other very interesting things, uncovered a perfidious plot to destabilize the then ‘interim’ government by a cabal of media, lawyers, and foreign funded NGOs distributing and inspired by Gene Sharp’s The Anti-Coup booklet. Shock! Horror!

Dr Shaista Shameem clearly pulled down Gene Sharp’s entry on Wikipedia, selectively Googled some other stuff to bolster her paranoia and conspiracy theory, and evaluated that rubbish in a way that would get her failed in any half-decent high school or university subject.

Around the time of the 2006 Fiji coup, in Boston, USA, Ms Jamila Raqib, a staffer with the tiny non-violence think-tank, The Albert Einstein Institution, founded by Gene Sharp, was e-mailing copies of the institution’s 72-page The Anti-Coup Handbook to every email address she could find in Fiji.

“Individuals whom we were able to actually reach (I am excluding a number of emails that were returned to me as ‘undeliverable’) included a diverse group of more than 200 human rights organisations, government bodies, civil society groups, business councils, religious associations, as well as radio, television, newspaper, and web media networks to bring their attention to our publication,” Ms Raqib told me in an email at the time. Radio Australia also reported on this activity.

What annoyed me was that, drawing on an illegal, stolen, and selective e-mail trawl probably obtained by the Fiji military, or helpfully provided by a coup-supporting stooge inside Fiji’s largest ISP, Connect,com.fj, Dr Shameem didn’t out me as another source of subversive and inciteful materials because I, too, had e-mailed several Fiji contacts with copies of The Anti-Coup.

Gene Sharp, apparently, also terrifies the local military dictatorship in the South Pacific, not without reason, it seems.

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