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Want to revolt? Net is a good place to try

Posted: Jan. 5, 2005


Eugene Kane
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Here's a rule of thumb for the Internet age:

If you receive more than 20 e-mails on the same issue - all from different people - within a short period of time, you're either dealing with a new movement or a hoax.

"Not One Damn Dime Day" appears to be the real deal. But that doesn't mean it's ready to sweep the country.

But who knows?

Maybe you've also received the e-mails proclaiming Jan. 20 as "Not One Damn Dime Day" across America.

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There are several versions, but the main text always reads the same:

"Since our religious leaders will not speak out against the war in Iraq, since our political leaders don't have the moral courage to oppose it, Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is 'Not One Damn Dime Day' in America.

"During 'Not One Damn Dime Day' please don't spend money, and don't use your credit card . . . Not one damn dime for anything for 24 hours."

The e-mail goes on to target specific businesses it claims are heavily supported by Republican contributions, such as Wal-Mart and Target stores.

"For 24 hours, please do what you can to shut the retail economy down."

I received several of these e-mails recently from Milwaukeeans, but it's not just a local movement. There are already multiple sites on the Internet, another sign it may be a campaign that has spurred people to action.

Some are signing a cyberpetition showing their support.

Most of the e-mails credited the message to an anonymous source. But one site, notonedamndime.com, included a name: Jesse Gordon, a Democratic activist in Cambridge, Mass.

When I reached Gordon, he had just finished a national radio interview about "Not One Damn Dime Day." He admitted, so far, that there was much more response from the media than from the general public. But he didn't mind.

"This is not going to get attention unless it gets publicized," he said.

Gordon claimed not to know the origin of the message. He said the response had been gradually increasing.

He said the message was aimed at millions of Americans who feel Bush's handling of the war in Iraq - and other policies - was wrong.

The "Not One Damn Dime" movement strikes me as similar to previous consumer boycotts launched on the Internet. For the past few years, there have been attempts to spark a "Buy Black" campaign at certain times of the year to allow African-Americans to demonstrate their collective buying power.

Most times, it's a pretty feeble response. When it comes to spending money, most Americans seem committed only to their immediate desires.

Gordon admitted the boycott could harm smaller businesses, but he accepted that as part of the deal.

"Boycotts do hurt people," he said. "If one in 10 people participate, it could send a message."

I'm not ready to sign on for this "Not One Damn Dime" movement because I sense it is poorly conceived and more of an expression of rage against Bush's re-election than a valid political protest.

But considering Bush's plans to spend $40 million to give himself a lavish coronation on Jan. 20 - while the situation in Iraq is still deteriorating with little hope in sight - I think some sort of organized response might be appropriate.

All you need is a spark to start a roaring fire, especially on the Internet.



From the Jan. 6, 2005, editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Contacting Eugene Kane
Call Eugene Kane at 223-5521 or e-mail: ekane@journalsentinel.com




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