Have you ever known someone for a while and gotten along with them wonderfully until that one topic came up and they snapped? Maybe the hidden trigger was connected to race, political party, antisemitism, religious beliefs, provincialism or chauvinism, whatever it was, the person you thought you knew was shed like a second skin and a cold, hostile person was exposed to be underneath?
If you’ve experienced that, you may have naturally asked yourself, “Was he/she always like this and I just never recognized it?”
We learn from our earliest years that our democratic government in America is a representative and altruistic one. We’re taught that our local governments and politicians are responsive to the community and care about the welfare of the majority.
It’s easy to be “a good guy” when there’s no cost to being one. The true reveal of one’s character comes when there is a challenge or risk to holding onto one’s principles and values. Those who swiftly discard their ethics and morals to protect or benefit themselves were merely putting on a show, to look principled to themselves and others, as a matter of ego or profit, not conviction.
If this week’s coordinated evictions and attacks on peaceful protesters in over a dozen U.S. cities by mayors and police chiefs reveal anything, it is the shattering revelation that in the United States, the highest priority that Republicans, Democrats and Independents in positions of political power can all agree on, is keeping that power in their hands and the hands of the business community who finance their campaigns and offer them lucrative jobs after leaving office.
This is reality. This is America. All of these mayors and police chiefs dishonestly and like cowards, hid behind exaggerated propaganda to justify their attempts to crush legitimate and indisputable complaints about our society and how it works…or doesn’t work for 99% of Americans. And the MSM was all to happy to lend a hand (including allegedly Progressive MSNBC) as they repeatedly echoed the memes that OWS had become rife with health issues, sexual attacks, violence, drug use, anarchists, etc.
You see, the police are protecting and serving the citizens of their city by pepper-spraying elderly and pregnant women, punching and throwing to the ground young people who are merely protesting peacefully, destroying the personal property of hundreds of people, arresting journalists for just doing their 1st Amendment protected job and reporting.
A perfect example of the MSM propaganda, supporting this government campaign against the people, was again repeated this morning by the corporate product Alex Wagner on MSNBC, it went something like this, “The OWS protests have turned violent, several police were injured.”
Now, if OWS was Occupy Police Stations and police were injured, I might be able to buy this line which instead is an Orwellian twist on reality. However, we have all seen plenty of video and injuries delivered to protesters by police. And yet, the spin on thousands of American citizens being attacked by their own police forces is that violence is being committed by the protesters against police.
It’s an outrage, we are being told, that the police who are spraying mace into the eyes of women they’ve trapped on a sidewalk, beating young men who they’re holding down on the ground or shooting flash bang grenades into the heads of Iraq vets, would ever get hurt during their attacks on peaceful citizens. And I would suggest that such claims of police being hurt are exaggerated or false in most cases anyway, just part of the propaganda. In most cases, they have assault gear on including helmets and body armor, they’re wielding batons and guns…and scores of people injured due to their actions are of no note but a cop bruises his fist on a protester’s ribs and it is only the cop who has been injured.
OWS have never beaten police, never sprayed them in the face with mace or shot rubber bullets at them. And yet THEY are accused of being violent towards the kindly police? Where is the MSM in questioning the use of undue force by mayors and police against peaceful protesters? I have yet to see any instance of OWS protests that constituted an immediate danger to the public or police. Is it The American Way to assault groups of Americans who peacefully protest injustice? Bottom line, why are we not hearing a debate over using overwhelming force to stop Americans from peacefully protesting? What legitimate and moral right does a mayor or police chief have to assault citizens for protesting? And don’t give us the convenient “health” and “safety” BS that you hide behind, explain to the American People why it’s appropriate to assault them for protesting against their government?
If the issues of health and safety are so paramount to these mayors, there are people living in far more unhealthy conditions in Oakland, NY, etc. and we have never seen these mayors send police in to clean up their neighborhoods. There are incidents of violence, sexual assaults and killings that are far too common in many parts of New York, we don’t see Bloomberg sending in the police to evict people in those neighborhoods.
Only those protesting the system Bloomberg is a big part of are those deserving of assaults by Bloomberg’s police force (Bloomberg is the 14th wealthiest man in America).
The 1% owns, either directly or by proxy, many city governments in America. They have mayors and many cities’ police forces as their army to defend their interests. This is “who” America really is, this is the moment we’ve discovered that the friend we always thought was a nice guy has a very dangerous side. We grew up seeing our government as our friend, our local governments as our closer friends. They have been and can be our friends on many issues and in many areas but there is a doorway they won’t walk through with us, when it comes to the people wanting to regain power from them, politicians of all political stripes join together against The People.
We’re very familiar with how in DC, the 1% have undermined, destroyed or tried to destroy any legislation of programs they could that benefit the 99%. For many, that was where the corruption was concentrated. Then we saw Republican Governors and legislatures in states including Walker in WI, Kasich in OH, betraying the people to serve the 1%. Now we see mayors from coast to coast ordering assaults on those who have already been assaulted by the 1% for decades.
It’s been said before but recent events would seem to strongly validate it, we are indeed at a key turning point for this nation. Either we come together as a majority to take on the 1% and wrest control of our nation back into our hands or they will become so entrenched, with city police forces doing their bidding, that resistance in the future may become more difficult and dangerous.
The dynamics couldn’t be more stark. 99% of Americans are on a continuing slide towards a worsening future for them and their children while the top 1% own 40% of the nation’s wealth, own Washington DC and own many of our city governments and through them, police forces. The conflict couldn’t be more self-explanational of the America we live in. The 99% being dominated and assaulted by the 1%.
The complaints that come from regular Americans about OWS seem, IMO, incredibly narrow minded, short sighted and selfish. Yes, the protests are an imposition on some businesses, workers and residents but those who lack the concept of an individual making a minor sacrifice for the greater good of the many is unworthy of sympathy. The American people have grown accustomed to not having to make sacrifices to preserve their rights and their democracy, many see it as an outrage for them to sacrifice anything for this country. It’s offensive, when we consider how much so many young Americans have sacrificed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of defending this country and its freedoms while people who get stuck in traffic due to an OWS protest or march get furious about how much they’re suffering (and some of those vets are in those protests!).
The 1% has encouraged and promoted their values of selfishness and small-mindedness over many decades. They’ve impressed on the American People that “You can have it all!”, “You’ll be rich one day too!”, “Spoil yourself, you deserve it!” and fostered a generation that in return sanctioned the 1% to “have it all” while the people were pacified and distracted as they indulged in a temporary binge of self-gratification.
Those days are long gone. As hard as it is to hear this for many people, no, you can’t have it all and you never will. No, you won’t be wealthy one day. No, you shouldn’t and can’t spoil yourself anymore, you should’ve left more for the next generation as was left for you, not less. This materialistic delusion that The American Dream became has gone bust and since it was an just a short-term con game anyway, it isn’t coming back.
The 1% won the first major battle of the class war, they control much of the government and wealth in the United States right now. However, as long as there are people who are willing to sacrifice their short term comfort for a better future, there will always be the opportunity for the majority to rise up and re-shape the way things are.
I’ve quoted this phrase before but it bears repeating, “If you don’t know you’re in a fight, you’ve already lost.” Add to that, you need to know who you’re actually fighting. It’s not just the federal government, depending on where you are, it could be your Governor, your state legislature, your mayor or your city council. There are good people out there who are in office, all politicians aren’t the enemies of the people, as the nihilist Baggers might say.
At the same time, it would be naive not to recognize the inordinate power that local and national 1%ers have over many politicians. Such politicians aren’t the enemy, they are the proxies for the enemy of the majority of Americans. Removing them at the ballot box and replacing them with someone who will represent the majority will disconnect the 1%ers from some of their power. There is a way to peacefully and democratically take power back. What it will take is for people to stop looking to a corrupt system of government to serve them or put their welfare first and instead accept that they can only look to each other to build a powerful national movement that serves them.
Occupy Wall Street is the raw, resonant beginning of such a movement. The expectation of it to be a polished, focused movement, like the corporate fraud of the Tea Party, was and is misguided. It is the first incarnation of a movement, the first coalition of ideas and people and an affirmation that we can come together and insist on having the nation and democracy that the majority want.
Of course, occupying parks isn’t an end but it has been a very effective means to an end. The conversation in this nation has turned to that of income inequity and the widening gap between the wealth of the 1% vs. the 99%. It has also been galvanizing Americans all across the country to come together even though the key issues they individually care about may be diverse. In recognizing the domination of the many by the wealthy few, all of these people have found a commonality to the cause of their various issues, that is, people not having the power to address problems as the majority wishes.
The Sleeper Has Awakened. The more Bloomberg and other crony mayors try to crush this public uprising, the more power they will give it. The plutocratic nature of today’s America hasn’t been changed by having police attack a peaceful encampment and protests so the destruction it’s doing to Americans hasn’t changed. People who can’t find jobs, are poorly paid, uninsured, can’t afford their home or college for their kids can’t be so quickly, easily and brutally dispersed as OWS. The cause for this uprising isn’t addressed by oppressing protests over it, that won’t make it go away.
There is a reckoning coming, one way or another. Many Americans have hit a breaking point due to corporations and the wealthy squeezing them out of what they once had. Their numbers and the intensity of their situations only grow when the focus is on silencing their protests instead of addressing what they are protesting. The status quo of declining incomes, wealth and standard of living is unsustainable. If the mindset of politicians is to just protect the status quo, when it goes, they will go down with it (through the democratic process that is).
The road ahead will be a difficult and long one. Those with power and wealth will use all the daunting resources they have to keep all that they have and get more. It is a strong concern that the future holds greater violence and schemes coming from the 1% to destroy OWS and those demanding a return to an America of, for and by the people. There will be those shills who proclaim the movement dead or irrelevant, there will be more police assaults on peaceful protesters, there will be trumped up charges and accusations against the movement in order to kill the messenger…but the message is far too strong to be defeated in these ways.
Prevailing against such powerful adversaries who threaten most every principle and moral that America represents requires Americans to make sacrifices. They may be sacrifices as small as occasionally getting out of the recliner and getting some fresh air and inspiration by joining a march or protest, volunteering to help a worthy candidate campaign, donating to politicians who represent the interests of the people over corporations, making phone calls as election day approaches to help Get Out The Vote…the sacrifices needed to steer this nation back on course are not huge but they will be required by the majority to stem the corporate assault on them.
Once we accept that our government can’t be relied on to protect or advance our interests, we can choose either apathy or activism. This is the time to choose. We can sigh, throw in the towel and bury ourselves in entertainment and other distractions or we can aggressively support and spread awareness about what’s going on in this country and grow the numbers of those insisting on economic justice and the reversing the corruption of our democracy. We can support the OWS movement and protests but we don’t have to stop there, we can build on them through action and social networking on a daily basis and each do our part to help to create a real populist tidal wave of change in 2012.
There’s something liberating about finally recognizing you can’t rely on others, it’s empowering when we recognize that the only way to make something happen is to do it ourselves.
OCCUPY UC DAVIS UPDATE
Brutalizing OWS Students with Pepper Spray