[Segment from Final Straw radio show, aired 11Feb18]
It sure seems like nobody’s taking hostages anymore. The last big, intentional hostage-event I can think of involved Chechen rebels who got gassed and shot by Russian military in a movie theater.
Note to self: If taking hostages, don’t do it in a Russian movie theater.
There’s a long and colorful history of rebels taking hostages, some of those efforts more successful than others. One of the most-successful hostage-takers was a guy called Carlos the Jackal. Carlos and his crew trained in rebel camps in the middle east back in the hey-day of the early 1970s with folks from the Red Brigades, the PLO, the Red Army Faction, and others.
Carlos and crew once took OPEC hostage at a hotel in Europe and demanded millions of dollars and a jet-liner. They landed– I think in Libya? –and Carlos released the hostages. A few weeks later, he again took hostages and successfully forced the release of one of his comrades that had been shot and then captured in the OPEC adventure. Carlos should be getting released from French prison soon, serving a sentence for killing some cops, if he isn’t released already.
Carlos, if you’re thinking about getting the band back together, call me. I’m in.
One of my personal favorites, the Symbionese Liberation Army, snatched up Patty Hearst, the darling daughter of the Hearst publishing corporation. The SLA, in a brilliant publicity strategy, forced Hearst to broadcast on nightly news a series of messages they had Patty record on reel-to-reel, and forced the multi-millionaire to deliver millions of dollars in free food to the inner-city poor of Oakland– truck after truck full of food, with Hearst employees handing it out to parking lots full of poor folks.
The SLA’s approach was sorta brilliant, taking a hostage not of the rich and powerful but taking instead a loved-one of the rich and powerful. Typically, loved-ones of the rich and powerful do not have the same security as the rich and powerful themselves. In the case of Patty Hearst, she was just another college student. And, in taking a loved-one of the rich and powerful, the SLA left the rich and powerful in a position to meet their demands. Had they snatched up the old man, very possibly his replacement would have said, “No deal.”
Just something to think about for all prospective hostage-takers out there.
Patty Hearst ended up joining the SLA and committed some bank robberies with them. Most of the group died in a fire-fight with cops in San Francisco and Patty was later arrested on the Canadian border. She argued Stockholm Syndrome as a criminal defense and never went to prison.
Hey Patty, if you’re thinking about getting the band back together, call me. I’m in.
In modern times, we have lots of people who weild power the way that the Hearst corporation used to, and those folks have very real vulnerabilities– spouses and kids and grandkids. Not only media conglomerates but some really ruthless corporations that drive wars and conflicts, that manufacture poverty and exploit it– barons of the new McWorld.
How many millions of dollars in food can they be compelled to give away to inner-cities around the world? Or computers donated to schools? Or pharmaceuticals airlifted to poor villages? Or nuclear power plants closed?
Consider, with the internet, a modern SLA can by-pass mainstream media and can present their demands on a global stage, the eyes of the world watching.
Some may object to the idea of subjecting someone to the trauma of a kidnapping just because their mother or father has power and wealth. Understandable. But, undoubtedly, that hostage has greatly benefitted personally from that wealth and power, and I think the potential for permanently altering the conduct of a corporate profiteer or a nation-state predator, and the potential for the way you can instantly transform thousands or even millions of lives by getting the right demands met can far outweigh any temporary inconvenience to some spoiled, rich kid you take hostage. And besides, he or she will end up with an awesome book deal that will more than compensate for the trauma.
Consider also, we live in a world now that has a different kind of power in it: The power of celebrity. So, if you really want your message heard and you want the world to pay attention, you simply need to grab someone with the most Facebook friends or Twitter followers and soon the whole planet will be aware of whatever cause you’re advocating.
No. Really. Guerrilla promotions.
There are some celebrity activists out there– Reese Witherspoon, maybe, or Rose McGowan or Johnny Depp– who really ought to consider kidnapping themselves. Think of what they could accomplish. Wanna demonstrate that Black Lives Matter? The Fraternal Order of Police has a president, and that president has loved-ones. Fork over $200 million for arming and training black folks in self-defense. Wanna clean up the environment? Frackers have corporate officers. Those corporate officers have families. Cha-CHING.
My suspicion is, there are chronic and unresolved problems that can be solved with amazing immediacy if only we hold the right pistol up to the right head. And our world is a target-rich environment for anyone seeking hostages for strategic and future-altering demands. There’s so much opportunity, this current generation could make the ’70s look like the ’50s.
Isn’t it time the rich and powerful fear us as much as we fear them?
Hostages. The great equalizer.
This is Anarchist Prisoner Sean Swain from Warren Corruptional in Lebanon, Ohio. If you’re stuffing a relative of the rich and powerful into the trunk of your car right now, you ARE the resistance…
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Categories: Sean Swain