A left-wing Web site hijacked

October 11, 2010

Doug Singsen is a student at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center and an activist in the struggle against budget cuts and tuition increases.

Since last spring's March 4 day of action, the struggle against cuts in New York has been harassed by a group of students calling themselves "insurrectionists" and organized around the Take the City blog. The "insurrectionists" physically intimidated and abused protesters at Hunter College on March 4. Now, one of these students, Ben Stable, hijacked a Web site that other activists were using to build for October 7 protests against education cuts. Doug responded to this breach of movement democracy with the following open letter.

IN YET another brilliant display of democracy in action, a contributor/editor/whatever of the Take the City blog has taken over and defaced the Web site for the March 4 and October 7 days of action to defend public education in New York City.

The individual who did this, Ben Stable, had been the initial creator of the site back in January or February, when he was helping to organize for March 4th. (He ceased to be involved with the organizers of March 4th after he was involved in the incidents that took place at Hunter College on March 4th, described below.)

Ben has altered the Web site by replacing the content of the site's main page and one secondary page with statements of his own creation, some of which are posted anonymously, some falsely in the names of other individuals. In these statements, which are written in an incoherent, childish rant, he presents his critiques of various organizations, including but not limited to the International Socialist Organization, and attacks and insults several activists by name, including me.

Hunter College students, faculty and staff rallied during the March 4 Day of Action
Hunter College students, faculty and staff rallied during the March 4 Day of Action (SW)

This is not the first time Ben and his compatriots have been involved in hijacking and attacking democratically organized actions. On March 4th, Ben was part of a group that physically and verbally attacked a rally at Hunter College. The chapter chair of the school's faculty union, an important ally of student activists, was hit in the head; sexist epithets were used against female speakers; windows were broken inside the school; graffiti was spray-painted on hallways and inside the ISO's club room (which we share with the African Student Union).

Shortly thereafter, false statements were posted on Facebook in which an ISO member who had helped to organize the March 4th protest at Hunter supposedly confessed to snitching on other activists to police at the rally.

At this time, there doesn't seem to be any way to remove this content from the Web site. Ben has removed the other administrators of this Web site, leaving himself in full control over it.

Given Ben and his friends' known predilection for sabotage, it's now clear that he should have been removed as an administrator at a previous date. I apologize to all the activists in New York whose work has been compromised or damaged as a result. Since Ben chose the day of the protest itself to execute his action, anyone who visits the Web site for information on the protest will not be able to find out the location or time of the rally, what it's about, or how to get involved in the struggle to defend education. Any reporters looking to write about the actions today will be similarly misinformed.

Ben justifies his actions through the belief that he is contesting the authoritarian leadership and conservative tactics of other activists, yet his own actions are utterly outside of all democratic decision-making and show no sense of responsibility to anyone but himself.

In Ben's eyes, he has the only valid answers to how resistance should be organized, and he believes that he has the right to impose these views on anyone who disagrees with him. He does not seek to win others to his views by convincing them democratically, but rather imposes his own ideas unilaterally. These actions are extremely disrespectful to other activists and destructive to the work they are doing.

If Ben disagrees with the strategy and tactics being pursued in the fight against budget cuts and tuition hikes, he should raise these issues in open meetings, not sabotage the hard work of others. I can only describe it as sad that Ben has chosen to mar this day that was supposed to be dedicated to showing our united opposition to the ongoing attacks on public education.

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