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What’s the best way to respond to the RNC? How about running away?
by Rich Broderick, 8/1/08 • Feeling as though the upcoming Republican National Convention is less like an opportunity to show off the Twin Cities’ charms and more like an invasion by an enemy host? You now have a way to act out your aversion as part of a grandiose bit of street theater being planned by a new organization. Calling itself the RNC Flight Crew, it aims to organize a mass exodus from the metro area the week of the national convention. “We’re hoping to get a minimum of 30,000 residents to simulate an emergency evacuation of the city the first four days of September,” explains Eric Stoner, one of the co-founders of the RNC Flight Crew. “We’d like to have 15,000 refugees escaping north along Highway 61 and another 15,000 heading southwest along 169.” The RNC Flight Crew, which says it has already signed up more than 2,000 volunteers to participate in what the organization is calling the “Convention Exodus,” has set forth guidelines restricting participants to non-motorized forms of transportation. “Bikes, baby carriages, skateboards, handcarts, horse or ox-drawn wagons, or plain old walking, all will be welcome on the Exodus,” he says. “Our objective is to recreate scenes reminiscent of the evacuation of Paris or Warsaw in advance of the German Army’s approach,” Stoner says. Stoner says the idea for the Convention Exodus came after he and other organizers of the RNC Flight Crew studied _The Society of the Spectacle_ during a community education class offered at Macalester College last year. Penned by Guy Debord, a French intellectual credited with co-founding the anarcho-artistic movement, the Situationist International, _The Society of the Spectacle_ is credited with helping incite the 1968 uprisings in Paris. “Essentially, the Republican National Convention – like the Democratic National Convention – is nothing more than an empty spectacle, a perfect reflection of the empty spectacle of a consumer culture that has commodified every aspect of life, including politics,” Stoner claims. “Nothing of note, or even of minor news value, is going to occur at the Xcel Center during that time.” But despite that, he says, “The RNC is going to attract a swarm of 15,000 media people and tens of thousands of demonstrators, all of them drawn like moths to the flame by the chance to be part of the spectacle – and hence make themselves feel as if they are ‘real.’ As far as we are concerned, everyone involved in the debacle is part of, rather than a solution to, the stupidity of the society in which we live.” “What,” he asks, “can any sane person do except run away from this kind of craziness?”