"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
Thanks in no small part to the manipulation of popular perception by the American media, most Americans exist in a happy delusion that unpleasant things like riots, police states, systemic corruption and armed revolution only happen in distant, hard-to-pronounce countries full of strange brown people.
I'll give an example of manipulated perception. An associate of mine, who we'll call Paul, is an average American. Paul is in his mid-30's, has two children, works as an assistant manager at a convenience store, loves classic rock, doesn't really follow politics, is a 'default Christian,' and rents a two-bedroom apartment that he can barely afford.
Paul has a tumor growing against a cracked disc in his spine, which has given him a form of sciatica that causes severe back pain, numbness in extremities and generally makes his everyday existence way way way more of a pain in the dick than it should or needs to be. He has shitty health insurance from his job, but even with that he can't afford the out-of-pocket costs necessary to treat his condition with a relatively simple operation. What Paul can afford is enough muscle relaxers and pain killers to continue functioning as a wage slave.
Paul does not support socialized healthcare (even though he supports medicare/medicaid.) Paul thinks Obama wants to euthanize your grandparents. Paul thinks America has the best health care system in the world. Facts and figures and evidence do not sway Paul. Paul has been indoctrinated by the media, through it's use of attractive, self-perpetuating misinformation.
Anyway, enough about Paul. Fuck Paul, this article is supposed to be about ignored or glossed-over unpleasantries in white peoples' countries.
There was a royal wedding recently in the United Kingdom between Prince William and Kate Middleton. The estimated cost of the wedding was somewhere between 30 and 110 million dollars with estimates of the ongoing damage to the economy ranging from 2 billion to 50 billion dollars.
While William and Kate were planning their ridiculously fancy hitching, the people that actually govern the United Kingdom were pushing through austerity measures, including drastic cuts to welfare support and public sector jobs.
(As an aside, I think it's weird that I almost don't want to type the word 'welfare.' Because of popular perception 'welfare' is now seen as a dirty word, conjuring images of crack-addled burglars gaming the system and unemployed single mothers driving luxury cars. This imagery is so pervasive and effective that I didn't wish to invoke it. In reality, 'welfare' simply refers to the part of the government system that concerns itself with providing a basic level of well-being and support to it's citizens, that they may fare well in their endeavors. The perception that huge numbers of the lower class are unwilling to pull their weight is largely a myth, as a moment's reflection by any member of the lower or working class would reveal. A moment's reflection, unfortunately, seems beyond the majority of us. Of course, there will always be a small minority of those that will attempt to manipulate any given system in their favor. Just look at the banking industry.)
Meanwhile, with the Will and Kate fiasco capturing the hearts and cameras of the world, anti-austerity protests and displays of civil disobedience were happening in the streets of London.
They were largely ignored.
And it worked. Mostly. Lots of young people chanted and waved signs and had marches and got knocked around by the police and no one really noticed. I remember having conversations where the disgusting level of opulence and privilege on display at the wedding would be brought up, and I would mention the disconnect between the imagery of the figureheads of state eating $40,000 cakes and wearing $400,000 dresses, and the working class outside eating terrible British food and wearing $20 hoodies trying to keep their jobs or child benefits. The crazy-ass thing about these conversations: I was the only one that even knew the austerity measures, let alone the protests, were even a thing. And I'm an asshole.
Cut to two months later.
Warning: Contains awesome.
If you can't, or don't feel like, watching that, it features two of my favorite things: Hooliganism and self-empowerment.
should have been the top trending topic on Twitter on several different occasions over the past 12 days. Twitter, however, has an unwritten policy of censoring offensive and controversial topics to prevent them from trending. I can understand this. No one wants to log into a website and see a page of posts with #whenIfuckmydog or #Howtofistmycousin. But who decides what is controversial or offensive? JP Morgan? Tia Tequila? No one seems to know. It's also worth noting that emails containing information on the protest were marked as spam by Yahoo!, who later claimed it was an accident. It's not incriminating, just suspicious. Especially with the echoes of the cry that "the Egyptian revolution was made possible through social media!" still echoing in people's minds.
Whatever. Occupy Wall Street should be on the front page of every newspaper and website in the country. It isn't. Or hasn't been. New Jersey Governor and animate 'before picture' Chris Christie is. Why? Because he announced that he will not be running for President. That is not news. It doesn't even smell like news. I don't run for President every single goddamn day, and you know what? It doesn't warrant mention. Maybe as a blurb in the back of NJ newspapers, not the front page of the Washington Post and the New York Times.
I stumbled across Occupy Wall Street on accident after it had been going on for four days. It wasn't until after a week in that someone that could justifiably be called a member of the mainstream media, Keith Olbermann, ran a serious piece on it, mostly focusing on the media blackout. And it wasn't until videos of police using excessive force a couple of days later that anyone else took serious interest.
Occupy Wall Street, for anyone that doesn't know, is a leaderless, nonviolent protest on (well, near,) Wall Street. It was loosely organized by Adbusters and Anonymous (inasmuch as a group of random hacker vigilantes with a meme and love of lulz can be called organized,) that focused on, in a nutshell, American revolution.
They claimed to have one demand, although they hadn't agreed upon it yet. They still haven't. The closest thing to a common theme is one that states "We are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%."
|To my religious friends: Exodus 32 seems pretty clear about this kind of shit.|
The movement has received endorsement and support from such various celebrities, activists and intellectuals as Cornell West, Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Roseanne, Immortal Technique, Lupe Fiasco, Chris Hedges, Susan Sarandon and Tom Morello.
The protest, intensely nonviolent at this point, has been using open forums and general assembly to build itself as it goes. This is interesting, because it means the movement is organic (insert vegan hippie joke here,) changing as it progresses, as opposed to the average Tea Party protest, or the Madison sit-in, or the Verizon strikes, which were organized with specific objectives, intentions and goals beforehand.
The attendance, as far as bodies on the ground, has been wildly debated from 'a couple dozen' up to 'several thousand,' with a predictable swell on weekends.
There have been between several and lots of videos showing police using excessive force on the protestors (such as macing women trapped behind a net and roughing up cooperative, unresisting protestors and bystanders,) as well as underhanded arrests like the resurrection of a 150 year old mask law and asking protesters to step off the sidewalk, then arresting them for obstructing traffic.
These are, of course, debatable facts for the callous and inhumane among us, but this fact remains: there are a lot of police there. If this is a small and insignificant demonstration by a bunch of bored, entitled kids (it's not,) why is there such a large number of police officers surrounding a public gathering of unarmed civilians exercising their constitutional rights?
Still, it is, at this point, a relatively small movement. That can be changed though. I think that that kind of change, while possible, is not very likely. The #occupy meme is spreading, with reported demonstrations being set up in Houston, Austin, Portland, Detroit, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and, well, anywhere big enough to theoretically support it. I hope that people get plugged in to this, and I hope it spreads. I hope that people realize that they personally have a responsibility in this country, that when this country no longer serves their interests it's not some distant politician's responsibility to reform or abolish it, it's the American citizen's.
I just worry that the divisiveness, apathy, indoctrination and indifference are too thoroughly entrenched in the American psyche to be shifted. Anyway, hopefully someone finds this informative and takes an interest in, well, their own best interest for once and tries to educate themselves. If not, have fun voting for the same crooked thieving mouthpieces everyone else at your church is voting for and please don't act surprised when the riots happen.