The Adoration of the Mad Activist

Snide Lines:Hello, is this the famous activist Tanya Klugworth?

Well, is Tanya there?

Me? Who am I? Oh, I’m nobody important; I just have important business with Tanya. Are you important? Ohmygod, you’re Tanya’s girlfriend! I guess I should say “partner,” right?

You are so lucky! Say, what’s Tanya’s favorite color? Have you thought about writing a book about your relationship with Tan –– hello?

Tanya! I can’t believe I’m actually talking to you! Your partner’s a little stressed, isn’t she? How are you, my sister? You are my biggest revolutionary hero. It is truly an honor to have phoned you. I loved you in that documentary “The Revolution Will Not Be Privatized.” Like you, I feel revolutionaries do not sufficiently appreciate stridency ––

Oh, sorry. It’s Amber. Amber McGonagall. The peace activist? You may have seen me at the anti-war demo in DC last Tuesday? I wasn’t hard to miss; there were only twelve of us. Anyhow, I’m on the steering committee that’s planning a big conference scheduled for next month. It’s called “Leftists in Struggle with the Left.” It’s where anybody who is anybody gets together to talk about “The People.” Naturally, we wanted to invite you.

Oh, you know. Workshops, literature tables, T-shirts, fistfights. Lots of heavyweight intellectuals and big-name pundits: Noam, Naomi, Cornel, maybe Angela… It was started years ago by the World Labor Party, which split up after three months because nobody could agree about class. Then the spin-off faction had a huge fight about identity politics, so that splintered into six identity groups, and I became a member of each of them. Long story short: all the groups formed a coalition to organize this conference, and, since I’m such a fan, they said I could ask if you would please be on a panel.

Oh, there are several panels to choose from. Let’s see… here’s one for white progressives: “Is It Okay to Hate US Imperialism When Administered by a President-of-Color?” No? Okay, what about “Click Here: Using Email Petitions to Smash US Empire.” Oh, and for history buffs, “How Would Lenin Have Handled the Loss of His 401-K?”

There’s also a workshop about how to be on a panel –– but you don’t need that. Say, what about the panel I’m organizing? It’s about hacking for peace: “Our Robots Ourselves: Empowering Computers to Say NO to Civilian Deaths in Drone Attacks.” You would be just perfect in it, Tanya.

Why? Because you’ve known pain. Because you’ve been arrested 27 times and gone on “Democracy Now!” and been incredibly eloquent in public discussions, standing up for justice and equality and ––

Oh, I agree –– equality is a beautiful thing. Yes, everyone is totally, totally equal. It just takes a special kind of person to stand up for equality is all. Plus, you’re a total goddess of the struggle and I worship you.

I can’t help it. My therapist says I’m a real star-fucker. But I say, “If I can’t star-fuck, I don’t want to be in your Revolution.” Get it?

Which reminds me: Besides being against imperialist war, could you please mention something about being a lesbian? We get criticized for not putting enough gay people on our panels.

No, don’t hang up! I lost focus! You’re a goddess, an icon! We need you, Tanya, to stem the tide. You can put radical politics into words the way Che Guevara puts Marxist revolution onto T-shirts. I could never do that.

I could? No, stop. I have to figure –– what?

Wow. Tanya. That is the meanest thing anyone’s ever said to me. I do NOT “have to figure things out for myself.” I couldn’t be on a panel; I don’t have the words.

I just don’t. I’m not a star like you; next to you, I’m barely a person. It’s all jumbled up in me, but I eat and sleep with the constant knowledge that the planes and trucks that bring me my food and electricity and things are powered by our “democracy” murdering and torturing people I’ll never meet, and none of us can do anything about that, okay? I think I’m no good because nothing I do matters and nobody listens to me. So I end up loving the people who are better than me at describing what’s wrong. I look to them for answers, and that helps.

I know nobody has the answer –– God, you are making me so depressed! I’ve got to organize a conference here that probably won’t make one bit of difference. But it will, with people like you in it, help me to be me a little longer.

What do you mean, “that’s the problem?” You know, Tanya, I have gone to all the trouble of worshipping you; the least you could do is be on one stinking panel.

Fine. I see. Well, I won’t keep you. I guess I just can’t understand why you would want me to prefer me to you, when you know you’re my idol. I thought you were supposed to help the oppressed, Tanya –– i.e., me. What about kindness; what about equality ––

Hello? Hello?