Culture Jamming and “Missing” Representative: What is the Point?

Professor Thomas (T.C.) Corrigan speaks at the Indivisible event.

Professor Thomas (T.C.) Corrigan speaks at the Indivisible event.

By Jarrod Walley |Staff Writer|

Dr. Thomas Corrigan, assistant professor of Communication Studies, talked to faculty, staff, and students about the organizing and activism his local Indivisible group been involved in resisting the Trump agenda.

He argued that such grassroots organizing can be seen as an “experiment” in communication studies, and he pointed to his group’s #whereispaulcook campaign as an example of one such experiment. The event was organized by CSUSB’s University Diversity Committee as part of the Yotie Talks lecture series.

The goal of the event that took place on Wednesday, March 1, was to educate the audience about the multiple indivisible grassroots organization groups. As well as learn information about what grassroots organizations are striving for not only here in California, but nationwide.

Per the website, they focus on resisting Trump’s agenda and vocalizing their concerns to the representatives of the California districts, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.

Representative Paul Cook has been uncooperative with Indivisible, and has resisted their attempts to stage a meeting with him. Cook represents the eighth district of California, which is where the San Bernardino Mountains group is stationed.

“We read a letter to one of his staffers, and conveyed that letter and asked for a town hall meeting,” said Corrigan.

The groups had tried many times to contact Cook and converse with him about the policies—like the executive order on immigration and refugee resettlement—that they are unhappy with. However, Cook was unresponsive.

“I think it’s good that they are actually doing something instead of just talking about it,” said student Mathew Cardona. “The congressman isn’t doing his job, so it’s good that they are calling him out on it,” he added.

Corrigan explained that the group decided to take a satirical approach to advance their efforts and gain more exposure to their cause. That is where the viral milk jug photo of the “missing” Paul Cook flyers came into play.

“I took the picture in my town of Crestline, in the mountains, at a liquor store,” said Indivisible group co-coordinator Jimi Sunderland.

The milk campaign was nothing but a photo, not an actual distribution of milk with the “missing” flyer on it. It brought a lot of attention to the group, pressuring Cook to respond.

“I have, personally, seen our group double in size, become more active, and lose their fear of speaking what they feel is important to them,” said Sunderland.

Although Sunderland is one of the newest and youngest members of Indivisible, nonetheless she is passionate about the mission.

“What I hope to achieve, with this group, is to build a strong, intelligent, and politically active community that fights for the rights of human kind and not just a specific group,” said Sunderland.

Students were both understanding and supportive of the goals of the group; however, some disagreed with their methods.

“The tactics that they are using could be questioned depending on the spectrum you live in,” said student Adrian Oviedo. “At the end of the day they are just trying to do something to better themselves,” he concluded.

Corrigan explained that Indivisible has made decent headway since the changing of their strategy.

Cook had even reached out to them over the widespread media attention, responding with open letter to the group.

He openly expressed that they are a fringe group with a radical political agenda; essentially denying to meet with them.

The group has, as stated by Corrigan, effectively shifted the narrative of Cook, questioning his responsibility to his constituents.

Indivisible plans to continue their efforts to expand, and pursue change on policies that infringe on the rights of the people.

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