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What is Activism?

Hey all!

First off I want to apologize for being so lame about updating my blog! I am currently balancing High School, College, and interning at a dive shop when I can. However! I got some very exciting news when I had a meeting with my High School counselor. They told me that I am so far ahead in earning my credits to graduate that I will be able to graduate High School in December of 2011. This means I will be finished six months early, and if I can earn the funds I hope to return to Taiji sometime next year.I am starting college so early because I am involved with the running start program, so I am already working on earning my AA so I can transfer to a university.

All of that being said, I think you can see why I haven’t been very active in blogging lately.

In one of my college classes we are expected to research a social injustice and get involved with an organization working with the oppressed group of individuals we have chosen as our topic. I decided to turn this project into a gift and work with Amnesty International. I wanted to discuss how governments who are acting through law enforcement to protect the interests of corporations are oppressing political and environmental activists. This was a topic I could speak about easily considering the fact I am one of those oppressed activists. I don’t know if you have noticed, but the trolls have recently become very verbal about their feelings towards SSCS and myself. So, between everything on the Internet, and my current project for English class, I started asking myself… what is activism?

Activism:  The policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.

I believe that if you are fighting for justice, be it animal or human rights, an activist is someone who cares so much about their cause that rules, authority, and those who abuse their place of power cannot stop them from fighting.

I recently had an interview with Larry Ebersole, who is a volunteer leader with Amnesty International.  He described activism as “doing democracy”, in other words, putting our government in their place. “Take a known approach, it is about doing democracy, it is the right thing to do and that is why it matters. It is your freedom of opinion, expression, and inquiry.” I really appreciated how he stated activism is the liberty to assertion. It is this kind of thinking that is going to move our world forward.

So, it was this kind of thinking that led me to my blog topic today. If you watched the recent “documentary” that aired in Japan about a week ago (if not it is translated into English on the Teenage Activist Face book page) you will see that the dolphin molesters are working on cases of Human Rights violations, towards SSCS and the other protesters on the grounds in Taiji. To be completely honest, I laughed when I saw that on the video. They have got to be kidding us!  If you compare our confronting their atrocities to the dolphins, to their physical abuse towards previous activists in Taiji you can see just how insane that statement was.

Considering the fact that SSCS Cove Guardians and I never physically touched anyone, while in the past the dolphin molesters have hit, shoved, kicked to the ground, and threatened activists… the idea of them “suing” us for human rights violations is idiotic! If the police ever felt as though we had crossed a line or broke a law they would have arrested us and/or interrogated us. The police hardly ever did a thing when we confronted the dolphin molester, don’t you think if it had been illegal that we would have had our butts thrown in prison? They were looking for anything they could to arrest us, and telling the dolphin molesters we hated what they did was not a crime.

Consider this… we never went to their home and on days they were not hunting we stayed out of their town. The dolphin molesters are obviously mad about receiving a taste of their own medicine. A new group of people came along that were not going to take their physical abuse, and so they go cry human rights violations. Aside from the accidental cursing that might have slipped out from time to time, we never harmed them while filming and confronting.

We did everything in our power to make them hate their jobs. While the dolphins were trapped in the cove overnight, the molesters did not need to be sitting on the railing while we filmed them. They could have gone home, a place we would not follow them.

To bad people don’t like the term molester… that is the best word we found to describe their actions. The legal definition of molester is:

Legal Dictionary Main Entry: mo·lest Pronunciation: m&-‘lest Function: transitive verb 1 : to annoy, disturb, or persecute esp. with hostile intent or injurious effect

I’m asking you to think about who is more violent here? Which is more extreme here?

Physical abuse, or taking pictures and calling someone out on their despicable actions?

Our clients are the dolphins and whales, not the molesters or their feelings.

Take a look at this video…. And really listen to what is being said. (I was only going to post the section with us confronting private space and his buddy, but I have so much footage to search through, it was taking too long to find it.)

Then watch the video of Steven Thompson and compare the two for yourself.

For those of you who have seen the cove… do you not remember all the activists being shoved, hit and kicked to the ground? Did everyone forget how nasty these men really are? They don’t want a dialog and won’t have one… we tired that remember? Didn’t go very well. The only thing that is going to change this is if the laws change… creating a public uprising and a worldwide campaign calling the embassies, will drive the government nuts. Ric O’Barry said as much in the movie.

So to conclude, before you attack SSCS and myself for standing our ground and giving the molesters a little taste of what they have been dishing out to previous activists for years… do a little research. Create your own opinions about what is going down on the grounds in Taiji this year, do not follow the herd and believe everything you here from the haters who are out to discredit us.

If we all only believed what those in a place of “power” said to us, nothing would ever get done, those “powerful” people would manipulate us life long. Not to say everyone in a place of power abuses it, but don’t make snap judgments. I am seeing a lot of that all over Facebook lately and it really bothers me. I don’t know about you, but I want to be an independent thinker who really pays attention to what is being said by various groups to find the common ground. I choose to speak up about injustices I see around the world even if some feelings get hurt along the way. We are talking about making this world a better place for all living beings… not protecting the feelings of those destroying our planet.

Far Fast and deep,

Elora Malama West

P.S. I will be adding some video and more pictures to my Flickr, today actually! I am so sorry I keep failing to do that, juggling college, High school and interning at the dive shop I want to work at, is a time consuming job.

11 thoughts on “What is Activism?”

  1. First, I have to tell you that this is a very well thought out and written piece. I like how you have analyzed the term “activist”, and how you have brought the meaning of that term into focus. In that context, activism is clearly “doing democracy”, and is therefore the exercise of a fundamental human right.

    And then you use this to provide a rather ironic context in which the Taiji fisheman’s complaints can be evaluated. Clearly, there is a different conception of “human rights” at play there … but I can’t tell you exactly what that conception is! I presume it has something to with their right to earn a living, and indeed that, too, is a fundamental human right. But we do not necessarily have the right to make our living any old way we choose …

    As environmental conditions deteriorate, and more species are pushed to the brink, we will see an ever greater convergence between human rights, animal rights, and ecological sanity. But that does not mean all conflict between these concerns will be erased. Thoughtful analysis, guided by good character, will still be required to sort things out. You have demonstrated the very best of character with your deeds, and you clearly have an analytical mind. I look forward to your future writings.


  2. Elora, I think you did an outstanding job. You did what you believed in, you followed your heart. You tried to do that which some of us can only dream of. Continue with your studies and I hope you come back to Taiji, I will follow every word you print and every video you show. Don’t let the haters make you defend your actions. You have touched a nerve and finally the world is very aware of the Fishermen of Taiji. ~ For the Dolphins, For the Whales, For the World, Save the Blood Dolphins!

  3. Elora, those of us who have followed along with you & your blog during your time in Taiji have come to appreciate you so much. We received what little relief was possible during the dolphin slaughters, knowing that you were there, standing up, bearing witness to such atrocities, especially for those of us who could only wish we were there. You are an incredibly strong person & have demonstrated time & time again the very best of character. We can only hope that the future holds many more individuals like yourself willing to stand up for what is right in the world. Wishing you all the best! Colleen in San Diego

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  5. Elora, it is such a shame that you even had to write this piece. Although activists should not have to defend what they do, and why. The why should be obvious. I am getting so angry with people attacking SSCS. Seriously, if not for Paul Watson, our oceans would be in much more despair, I believe, and all people concentrate on is the fact that he is supposedly “interfering” in the whalers trying to make a living. Everyone forgets there are lives at stake in the middle of all that. And Paul and his crew save those lives. I hate that you have to defend your actions, Elora, but you do so very well and you make me as an activist very proud. You are going to have a large impact on animal activism, I see a good leader in you. Take care, Angie

  6. Who’s more damaging? Elora these are family men and women who’s lively hood you all are attempting to play with. You all have shown to carry a chip on your shoulder when someone disagrees with your actions. I highly doubt this will stick around long but you will have at least read it. Now, I do not agree with whaling, but to be so disrespectful in a different country you have given all of us westerners who travel a bad rap. So, thank you so much for destroying my life’s work in one country. You have made it near impossible for me to do my work as a biologist in Japan now. No response is necessary from such a self centered little girl who has proven to know nothing of the real world.

    1. I’m sorry, I don’t understand why you cannot be a biologist? Our problem is the dolphin slaughter, we have a problem with it all over Japan (not only Taiji). We are not against the Japanese people, we are against the destruction of the ocean. The molesters are upset they received a taste of their own medicine, I do not care if their feelings are hurt. I hardly see how that would effect your job…

      I don’t know if you have noticed, but the confronting of the molesters has died down a lot… the whole thing is old news really. However, people such as yourself are so desperate to find anything they can to complain about… because we touched a nerve.

      All of Japan does not hate westerners. We have some very dear friends who live there or visit family there, who are very much aware of our previous encounters with the molesters.

      You have every right to disagree with things that were said or actions that were taken, but you cannot be serious when you blame me for ruining your life’s work. That is ridiculous.

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