On the Other Hand

So, I’m still feeling a nasty taste in my mouth about Occupy Nashville, who should have been ignored until it got cold and they went home, but were instead galvanized by Governor Baby acting like a dictator and arresting people for exercising their First Amendment rights. It seemed like any group that could bring folks from across the political spectrum together to support their right to protest was doing some good work. But some good work and good intentions don’t mean that everything they do is going to be golden.

And so, yes, yuck.

But then, every day I wake up to see that New York or Oakland has turned into some kind of… I don’t even know. I don’t know what the implications of mayors deciding to mobilize the police against Americans is. I feel like someone’s going to get killed. It makes me feel angry and helpless. Again, I ask, could they not have said, “Cool. We’re glad to have you. Here’s the porta-potties. Have fun come December!”?

I feel like we’re seeing first hand that a lot of elected officials do believe they’ve been elected to a kind of benevolent dictatorship.

But what to do about it? I don’t know. Go sit with Occupy Nashville and make it seem like I’m down with the slave auction?

10 thoughts on “On the Other Hand

  1. I’m sure that the assorted bizpigs and chambers of commerce are screaming at the various mayors everyday to get those hippies off the streets. What is a lowly mayor to do in the face of all that money? Capitulate, that’s what. Occupy Nashville was lucky in that their adversary is a ham fisted doofus (pick either Ramsey or Haslam). But in general American knows how to stifle dissent. Hit the media, pitch them with stories about health hazards. Send in operatives to gather info (bring back COINTELPRO!). Find obscure legislation. If all else fails, or if you’re just a doofus, send in the gendarmes. Next up, the national guard!

    So ON can’t see the privilege for the trees. To be expected these days. But that they can’t see how they make themselves easy targets for step one in dissent stifling, well, they just don’t need to be out there.

  2. Watching events unfold in NYC, I’m sitting here thinking that Bloomberg is simply Bill Haslam with slicker PR people.

    …we’re seeing first hand that a lot of elected officials do believe they’ve been elected to a kind of benevolent dictatorship.

    Which is a client state mentality, which is one of the central objections of the OWS crowd.

    Taking a longer view, the state does have to push back on the protests. This is part of the nonviolence strategy.

    Long quote from a FB associate:

    I’m not saying it’s a good thing that OWS protestors are getting beaten and gassed and bum-rushed and shot at. It’s not. But it’s a necessary thing, and it’s a step in the right direction. It’s called heightening the contradictions, though you shouldn’t say that too loud lest the National Review types call you a Red: if all you accomplish by your marches and protests is a couple of minutes on the news, you’ll soon be forgotten. But if you can provoke the ruling class’ strong-arms into violence through peaceful protests, you’re accomplishing something. You’re proving that the system is so committed to what you’re protesting that they’ll use force to shut down even a conversation about it. And that’s a good thing, because it proves to the people sitting on the fence, to the people who might never get out and march with you, that you’re not just a bunch of cranks. It shows that you’ve touched a real nerve, that you’re pursuing an avenue of complaint that the establishment is not willing to engage in any peaceful way. The unions didn’t win their victories by picket signs and slogans alone; they did it because their men and women took nightsticks to the head and put themselves in front of bullets and breathed tear gas and stood in fire.

    It’s important and admirable that you point out this brutality and imbalanced reaction on the part of the police. But never believe that it is unnecessary or undesirable. The people who took those beatings and gassings are heroes, and now is no time for them to stop. They need our support, and they need our numbers out there on the lines more than ever. That’s how this thing becomes real, folks: when we are willing to respect that the violence is coming, and decide once and for all what we’re going to do about it beyond make sad faces. No one wants to take those licks, but every bruise you suffer, every scar you sport, every tear you shed, gets us one step closer to real results, real progress, real justice. This is a fight, and it’s one we can win, but not if we pretend that it’s a game.

  3. > I don’t know what the implications of mayors deciding to mobilize the police against Americans is.

    Selma. Kent State. Stonewall riots. Things are going to suck in the short-term for those with the courage to protest, but the arc of history is long…

  4. Bloomfield is nothing like Haslam. He’s smarter, he’s more competent, and he’s a lot more deliberate in what he’s doing. He’s much more an active trampler on the democratic process and less a passive enabler of others’ tramplings.

  5. I honestly wish there was a Middle Way protest for those of us who are concerned about The Right To Assemble but don’t want to be aligned with the rest of the poorly-thought-out gumbo that seems to be OWS/ON’s stock-in-trade.

    Because I would have stood with them united for First Amendment rights until this new cuteness unfolded. This slave auction says loud and clear that they want attention and don’t care who they hurt to get it. I’m not down with that.

  6. There are a couple of things that diminish the effectiveness of non-violent protest in the modern age. One, our collective comfort with the violent resolution of conflict. Like Oliver Assayas said abt Hollywood films, the fate of the world is decided with a fist fight. I don’t know how much the public would recoil these days should a cop beat down some dirty hippies.

    Two, we are less interested in the plight of others generally. The first is kind of a subset of this one I suppose.

  7. I’m all astonished at the trampling of the First Amendment by some cities. Is it that satisfying to go all physical on the protesters?

    Why don’t the officials just do a we-care-more-than-you on the protesters? Give them porta-potties and security and whatever else to keep them there. Then post the costs and make sad faces about how this protest has cost x amount of tax dollars that would have kept twenty small children fed for a week. Mean, mean protesters!

  8. AuntB: I can’t go out tomorrow night, but I think it’s worthwhile at least going to a GA… with someone you know. :P There’s something there. I’m not sure what. You know where I’m at with all that.

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