I often try to couch my opinion in a way that is palatable to all and not too ‘out there’ or distinct because I don’t want to make too many waves. And that’s fine for most topics, most of the time. I mean, really, people, I’m not an activist.
I am reminded, however, by this brave woman –
– that when people are silent and stand by while some people do the wrong thing, the right thing won’t get done at all.
Hear her in her own powerful words here.
Yes, of course I’m talking about the Occupy Wall Street protests. I posted a video of the UC Davis pepper spraying of students on my facebook page, as did some of my friends. The responses they got on their pages were horror and outrage. On my page? People talking about how the lazy student bums need to quit complaining and go get jobs.
To me their arguments are illogical. When has protesting been something lazy people do? It’s not an easy good time. The kids at UC Davis knew they might get pepper sprayed, it’s been happening all over the country. (Watch the video here). They could have been snug in their dorms playing video games, without a care in the world. Why in the world would lazy spoiled children protest and risk their health and safety? They wouldn’t. Watching this made me cry, it’s so blatantly unnecessary and cruel.
The comments on my facebook page talked about how people need to take responsibility for themselves and go get jobs. I wonder: who would choose homelessness over working? Do you know such people? People who willingly give up homes, cars, clothes, entertainment, fresh food and convenient bathroom facilities with running water because they’re lazy? Did I miss the memo about how homelessness is the easy life?
On my page one of the commenters suggested: “Use that education vote or get the job to where they can change policy or be influential in that process. There is a time to protest. I’m all for it.” We’ll set our issues with his grammar aside and focus on the point at hand: The students are protesting rapidly rising tuition in a time when credit is getting tighter. They may not be able to complete that education. If they can complete it, they will likely be in quite a bit of debt. Let’s say they decide to go into politics to change the system. That’s several years away. In the meantime they’ve got to start a career, master public speaking and be up on all the current topics that matter to voters, something many of our republican candidates have not yet managed to do (see Rick Perry here and Herman Cain here, and those two have major corporate backing.) Next, if they want to avoid the influence of those who have contributed to our current circumstances, i.e. what the protesters are protesting, he or she will have to raise all of their campaign funds outside of the corporate world. Here’s a video clip about someone who tried to do just that in 2010.
These statements: the protesters are a bunch of lazy hippie kids without a point, these people have created these circumstances for themselves, and there are better ways to accomplish their goals than protesting lack a logical foundation and smack of Fox news-style propaganda. I can almost hear Ann Coulter’s and Glenn Beck’s voices as my dear commenters quote directly from the news feeds. If people thought about what they’re saying here, would they still say it? I’m taking a stand because I think this is wrong.
In my opinion the protesters are the new front line in the war for America’s freedom. America is all of us, not the very wealthy and not the career politicians who have been bought and paid for by certain individuals.
The soldiers who’ve died in all of the wars fought to defend our country would flip out in their graves if they knew that despite their sacrifices our country was being destroyed from the inside out. We have to stop it and we have to defend what America stands for so that the American dream is still a reality for us and for future generations. The time to do that is now, not once we’ve become a Banana Republic – a land where the top 1% lives in unimaginable luxury while the bottom 99% wallows in abject poverty with no one in between. Why wait for that eventuality? Right now, thousands of brave Americans are taking to the streets to reclaim our freedoms and our rights and the very least, the very least, we can do is support them in that. It’s unAmerican not to fight for our rights.
Remember, dear readers: Civil disobedience is as American as apple pie. If not for civil disobedience we’d be British citizens, women couldn’t vote, black people would be at the back of the bus and we’d still be at war in Vietnam, among other things.
And you can quote me on that.
In the aftermath of the UC Davis pepper spraying, the school’s chancellor, Linda Katehi, walked to her car amidst hundreds of students sitting in silent protest. This isn’t violent, it isn’t mindless – it’s extremely powerful and you can see how affected she is by the response to what was done under her watch. See it here. (scroll to the bottom of the article)