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What is happening to this country?

I've been wondering this for most of my adult life, but it's come up a lot during the past decade, and the past few days of following the Wall Street protest news coverage - more to the point, the lack of news coverage - have made this question blow up once more.

I know that not all police officers are warped by their daily exposure to criminals. I know that not all police officers take every opportunity to abuse the citizens they're sworn to protect and serve. I know that not all police officers view non-cops as potential perpetrators, that they're not all puppets to those in power, that they wouldn't all idly stand by or actively join in as crimes were committed by their fellow emotionally perverted officers, but once again we get evidence that this particular line of work attracts the worst elements in the human species:



In this essay from a few years ago, I write about the day that my respect and appreciation of the police force dissipated in a cloud of violence. I lived through the Seattle Police Riots of 1999 - sorry; the Newspeak way to say it is, "World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999 protest activity." I watched peaceful protests against the WTO turn into a riot of violence against the citizens of my neighborhood. I watched neighbors - whose only crimes were trying to eat dinner in a restaurant, or leave the tear-gas-reeking streets, or looking too gay - get gassed and shot and beaten and terrorized for days. I got to experience what it's like to stumble through a two-block-long city park enshrouded in a cloud of CS gas (commonly known as "tear gas"), my asthma-afflicted partner barely able to breathe, among thousands of other peaceful protesters all suffering the burning skin and constricted lungs and disoriented brains and chaotic emotions that go with it. For two city blocks. In a park. Where the people had come out not to protest the WTO but to protest the violent police occupation of our neighborhood.

I could go on and on about this, but that was the turning-point for me. My eyes were opened to a fundamental truth:

Those in power tend to stay in power. And they'll do whatever it takes to ensure that.

This is also why I don't trust any high-level politician, and why I'm suspect of even local politicians. And when they turn the armed civil forces - our police - against us, it's worse than a crime, largely because it's not a crime for them to do so. Do your benefactors not like the protests against their corporation or industry? Arrest them at random, beat them in front of other protesters, gas them and mace them and kneel on their heads against the pavement. The others will get the idea.

Except that doesn't work in the long run. The harder they push us, the harder we push back. Just look at what's going on in the Middle East, especially Syria right now. The Syrian people are dying by the hundreds, perhaps the thousands, at the hands of their police forces. But they're not going home cowed by the Fascist oppression; they're just finding more ways to get the word out, and they're feeling empowered by the world's response against their oppressors.

When will we do the same here in the USA? When will we say, "Enough!" as our government and our police forces continue to abuse their power? When will we stop fighting among ourselves - with the full support and incitement of the mainstream media - and jackhammer out the current foundations of power? Which, by the way, aren't the police forces or the Congresspeople or whatever - those are just the instruments of those really in power: The corporate leaders and the ultra-rich, the 1% who control the rest of us by manipulating the political landscape and evaporating what the USA stands for in order to grow their own power.

The United States of America was formed on a revolutionary idea: That we, the people, should be free to protest what we perceive as wrongs without fear for our life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness.

What the hell happened to that?

Chris

Comments

( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
carmy_w
Sep. 27th, 2011 06:32 pm (UTC)
Rambling comment in agreement
I'm not in the middle of any of the mess, but frankly, I was quite sure that either the protests would turn into riots, mostly at the instigation of the police, or else they wouldn't get any publicity and would fade away into the woodwork. Because there aren't any independent news sources any more, and the standard sources know which side their bread is buttered on.

It took what-nearly a week of occupation before some jerk in the NYPD snapped. And only now that police brutality is involved is it showing up on the nightly news.

As someone on another forum said: if we would have had tea bags hanging off our hats, there would have been cameras all over the place!

It's going to take civil disobedience to get things changed. It always has taken that, and I expect it always will.
mckitterick
Sep. 27th, 2011 06:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Rambling comment in agreement
I'm no longer freaked out that the mainstream news outlets ignore most of the important news, because now everyone is a first-person eyewitness, if not a fully capable reporter. Plenty of great reporters out there are bloggers or website managers who then present this information for the rest of us, and thanks to social media, word spreads like West-Texas wildfire once that happens. Plus, as you say, even the corporate mouthpieces that call themselves the "news" these days can't ignore police brutality.

It disgusts me that only right-wing news gets reported. I mean, even NPR - the only fair-and-balanced mainstream news out there - reports on the frakkin' Dow Jones average at the top of each hour, thereby legitimizing that as "important." Who cares? How about if all our retirement funds pulled out of the stock market? That would be AWESOME.

You're right, that only civil disobedience can change anything that real human beings care about in this country. That also disgusts me, and it reveals the truth about who's really in charge.
carmy_w
Sep. 27th, 2011 06:46 pm (UTC)
I think we all went to sleep for a lot of years after the sixties, and for sure after Roe v. Wade. The political process has been pretty quiet ever since, at least on the surface. It's fairly obvious to the paranoid corner of my mind that a lot of people have been working underground to reverse: a) a lot of freedoms that were given in the past century; and b) a lot of constraints on corporations that were created in the last century.

Or maybe I just see conspiracies behind every group. I don't know. But a lot of the stuff going on is reminiscent of propaganda techniques that were used historically. Yellow journalism, anyone?
mckitterick
Sep. 27th, 2011 06:54 pm (UTC)
I don't think exposing the blatant power-grabs over the past decade(s) equal conspiracy theories. As they say, it's not paranoia when they're really after you ;-)
(no title) - silk_noir - Sep. 27th, 2011 08:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - carmy_w - Sep. 27th, 2011 09:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - Sep. 28th, 2011 03:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
bogwitch64
Sep. 27th, 2011 07:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I saw some footage of this (the women being peppersprayed) the other day. It was...heartbreaking. These same people venerated for the roles they played during 9/11 pepperspraying women who never saw it coming. They were seriously just milling about inside the net the police had corralled them into. I don't know what was going on before that, but even if there'd been something less than peaceful, those officers were in no danger from the women they sprayed. It was disgusting.
mckitterick
Sep. 27th, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC)
Exactly. Though I doubt the officers who played such a vital part in saving people on 9/11 were the same ones who are doing the abusing. But... who knows.
(no title) - bogwitch64 - Sep. 27th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - graydown - Sep. 27th, 2011 10:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - Sep. 27th, 2011 11:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
silk_noir
Sep. 27th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
May I share this?
mckitterick
Sep. 27th, 2011 08:16 pm (UTC)
Sure, thanks! All my public posts are just that: public.
geekmom
Sep. 28th, 2011 01:32 am (UTC)
I've been wondering when the rioting was going to start.
mckitterick
Sep. 28th, 2011 03:37 pm (UTC)
Meh, Americans don't riot. Once they start, well, perhaps we might see some change.
(no title) - geekmom - Sep. 28th, 2011 06:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - Sep. 28th, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
siro_gravity
Sep. 28th, 2011 03:07 am (UTC)
that video is really disturbing. the woman being pepper sprayed really upset me a lot. her screaming...and the nonchalant way the fucker cop walks away from what he did.

what happened to that revolutionary idea...lots of things. folks who care deeply feel (and are completely disempowered). and many who should care are distracted by the comforts of living in the culture they outta be revolting against.

the people in power stay in power...they have the weapons and the force (physical, monetary, whatever) to ensure it.

Edited at 2011-09-28 03:08 am (UTC)
mckitterick
Sep. 28th, 2011 03:41 pm (UTC)
You're exactly right: Governments remain stable when the vast majority of the population has jobs, lives, homes, and other comforts. I've long argued that Israel could solve its problem with the Palestineans by simply providing them with all those things. And at the same time, y'know, help the Palestineans become happy. If the Israelis cared, it would have happened decades ago. Doesn't take rocket science.

Now that we have double-digit official unemployment numbers and a growing population of homeless and poverty-stricken Americans, we might well start to see real citizen unrest.
karin_gastreich
Sep. 28th, 2011 01:19 pm (UTC)
Chris -- Very moving video & commentary. It's refreshing to see this talked about. It's not talked about nearly enough. Actually, it's not talked about at all. What little was left of political discourse in the United States died the day it became a matter of "You're either with us or against us."

My husband was shocked when he came to visit the States three years ago, at a time when we were one month away from the presidential elections, to find that Americans -- or at least Midwesterners -- don't talk to each other about politics. Not even on the eve of elections.

In Costa Rica, there are two things people talk about at the dinner table and in bars: family and politics. Soccer & weather might come in a distant third. But who's in power and what that means for the future of the country, whether for good or ill, whether you disagree with your neighbor or not, is always at the top of the list.

In the U.S., we let the media do the talking for us. And look where that's led us -- to a world of disinformation and lack of information. It's great that there is discourse somewhere on the internet, but it's hard to find, and many many people still don't have access to it. (It takes money, after all, to have an iphone...)

So, I don't know where I'm going with all this. Just to say thank you for stepping out there and using your voice. If enough people do, we may yet have a chance at achieving the changes we need.
mckitterick
Sep. 28th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
Re: What little was left of political discourse in the United States died the day it became a matter of "You're either with us or against us" - Karin, you're so right! When I heard The Shrub say that, and "Axis of Evil," and "Crusade" (when referring to our invading Iraq), I knew we were doomed on the international front. When that became the way US politicians interaction with one another, I began to fear that our country was doomed from within, as well.

I hadn't thought about how the media speaks for us - especially on politics. We're taught to not talk about politics... and for good reason, because I've found that my Right-wing friends are so immersed in their media prompts that they cannot reason. I used to have Left-wing friends, too, but these days what passes for the American Left is simply people who'd like to prevent the Tea Partiers from eroding all of the federal government.
clevermanka
Sep. 28th, 2011 02:28 pm (UTC)
When will we do the same here in the USA? When will we say, "Enough!" as our government and our police forces continue to abuse their power?

Well, it took Syria (and the rest of the Middle East) a few hundred years. I don't see a U.S. revolution happening in our lifetime. Sorry.

The United States of America was formed on a revolutionary idea: That we, the people, should be free to protest what we perceive as wrongs without fear for our life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness. What the hell happened to that?

I'll direct you up to your Fundamental Truth:

Those in power tend to stay in power. And they'll do whatever it takes to ensure that.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
mckitterick
Sep. 28th, 2011 03:56 pm (UTC)
Well, aren't you just a ray of sunshine :-\

Perhaps you're right about our not seeing a revolution, or even a major revolt against the non-human entities running our nation, for the reasons I mention in my reply to Karin, above. But it's becoming ever-more possible.
(no title) - clevermanka - Sep. 28th, 2011 04:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - Sep. 28th, 2011 07:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
worldforger
Oct. 1st, 2011 07:03 pm (UTC)
Faux News approves of police brutality
And of course, Faux News is spinning it. First off, they're calling it 1,500 people max, when it's closer to 5,000, and they're spinning the reason for their descent on the NYPD, saying nothing about police brutality, and ending the article with a quotation about how they're protesting people who make around 50,000 or so a year, and therefore are unclear on what they're doing.
mckitterick
Oct. 3rd, 2011 01:01 am (UTC)
Re: Faux News approves of police brutality
Faux Nooz is not what it claims to be. Boy, there's no going back to a free, unshackled press.
dynezola
Oct. 2nd, 2011 09:28 pm (UTC)
me and my girlfriend were arrested yesterday by the NYPD on the Brooklyn Bridge march. (so glad to have a girlfriend that I can get arrested with for political reasons!)

I was surprised by how many blueshirt cops seemingly support us. they were very nice to us in processing and in our holding cells, and several even expressed their solidarity with the cause.

being in jail for 12 hours was boring -- I don't think I've legitimately felt "bored" since I was a kid -- but it's a price I'm glad to pay if it means more exposure and momentum for the movement.
mckitterick
Oct. 3rd, 2011 12:59 am (UTC)
How exciting! Congratulations.

Hey, do you intend to blog about it, stuff that I can share with people? Also, what would you say is the central message of the movement, something that could inspire others to join in solidarity around the country? Some locals would like to protest with the KC or Lawrence groups, but there aren't clear messages.
(no title) - dynezola - Oct. 3rd, 2011 11:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )

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