There is a reason I put as the logo of this blog something Pete Seeger once said: “If you can’t change the world, don’t let the world change you”
I only got aware of social movements, politics in the fall of 2000 as I watched on CNN how chad by chad an election was being stolen right under my eyes. I had had the vague feeling something was wrong during the Clintons witch hunt, but now it was all so painfully clear for me to see, I couldn’t ignore it.
A lot of other people got activated by that outrage. protests, on line movements were born – and I was there for it. I told myself – well, if the political power was stolen away from us, at least we are organizing – people of like mind and we will get the change we seek.
During the Bush reign, organize we did. We mounted an opposition to war, created our own reality based media on line – it seemed like the power was ours to get.
Of course, Wall Street started grooming a tool which they presented to these brothers in arms of mine: look! He has black skin – therefore ignore his record, he must be your way to power.
Most of my brothers in arms fell for it. They took the bait, hook line and sinker and thrown their precious fight behind the corporate man.
I was left with only a few – less easily duped friends who saw through the ruse. Eventually Wall Street maintained and consolidated its power with the new tools, breaking the Democratic party in the process. No longer could the Ds say “Rs steal elections” They had now done it to their own members. For money. So, most of us left the party and for a while we were known as PUMA as we wouldn’t come around to embrace the corporate man.
After the coup was accomplished some of my fewer friends went to the right. I found myself at a PUMA party where my kid was asked “So what are they teaching you in that public school?”
That’s when I shed the name – which was obsolete after the elections anyway. But still had many of my friends who thought like me (I thought)
Recently, OWS came as a new reality test. In the beginning we were all cautious – are these people the same ones responsible for Obama shilling for the Wall Street? Turned out, not exactly. The originators were an international group that predate Obama. The objective was not to help campaign 2012 but in fact, beyond politics, about economic justice.
But by then it was too late for my suspicious friends. From “maybe they are Obots” it evolved to “jobless, smelly hippies” and somehow they summoned all the hatred of the right festering since the 60s against those rising for social justice. (“hippies do nothing but make you feel bad about yourself – one wingnut tellingly explained).
From here, it wasn’t much keeping score and cheering every time a police baton cracked a “smelly hippie” skull. All the way to fascism – and once again – right under my eyes.
It hurts even more this time as I watched the transformation even closer than I did in 2008. people I considered my friends are now cheering the police state (Obama’s police state, ironically).
I wrote this to say: THERE IS NO EXCUSE.
I don’t care how disappointed you wee that fellow progressive brought on such a scourge as Obama.
I don’t care how pissed you are that they called you racist, old, uneducated while they were doing so.
I don’t care how angry you are that they stole your voting rights.
I don’t care how enraged you are to see them sitting silent while Obama starts new wars and ends more civil rights.
I don’t ultimately care if these (OWS) are the same people or new, more radical people.
I don’t know where it will end, whether it will succeed or it will be co-opted by some politicians like the Tea party was. It’s about the issues at hand.
What is happening now is big and just and important. You can stand for justice or cheer for the oppressors. No middle road on this.
Back to Pete Seeger’s words: in 2008 I found myself – once again – powerless to change the world. But at least I didn’t let the world change me. I am not giving away my ideals just because some holding them were duped/bought/perverted. Nor am I compromising them to be able to still hang with some old friends – sad that the loss makes me.