Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Peaceful Protest And Limits

Well, well, well. The more it changes, the more it stays the same.

In response to the brutal attack by Oakland PD upon peaceful demonstrators at the Occupy Oakland site, Desertpeace has a lovely quote from Jack London, (of all authors!), specifically a largely-unknown work of his entitled "The Iron Heel" -

We are in power. Nobody will deny it. By virtue of that power we shall remain in power…We have no words to waste on you. When you reach out your vaunted strong hands for our palaces and purpled ease, we will show you what strength is. In roar of shell and shrapnel and in whine of machine-guns will our answer be couched. We will grind you revolutionists down under our heel, and we shall walk upon your faces. The world is ours, we are its lords, and ours it shall remain. As for the host of labor, it has been in the dirt since history began, and I read history aright. And in the dirt it shall remain so long as I and mine and those that come after us have the power. There is the word. It is the king of words–Power. Not God, not Mammon, but Power. Pour it over your tongue till it tingles with it. Power.

Certainly not what you think of when you hear the name Jack London, is it? In contrast, the rest of his works seem like books for children.

And just yesterday my own father emailed me in response to a video I'd sent him last week, showing a similar crackdown by our own local cops against the Occupy San Diego site. What did my Dad have to say? "It's too bad, but the 'occupy movement' or any other form of peaceful protest just doesn't do any good."

Uh huh. Do I really need to say that I agree?

And yet, in a certain coldly cynical sense, peaceful protest does serve a purpose. It demonstrates its own futility, so that all can see other measures are also necessary. And it provides a casus belli, to which The People may afterward point and say, "We tried".

For an interesting historical example, see the Boston Massacre of 1770, and the death of Crispus Attucks. Note that these events took place five years prior to the battles of Lexington and Concord, which are generally considered to have begun the American Revolution.

And on the other hand, Desertpeace, on a relentlessly optimistic note, also offers us this little homily to John Lennon

Monday, October 17, 2011

The "Occupy" Movement Shames Us

So, how about this Occupy Wall Street movement? A bunch of people actually started an Occupy Washington action on the 15th, and some of them, including Prof Cornell West, were arrested on the steps of the Supreme Court yesterday. I find this all pretty inspirational stuff.

But yesterday I was doing my usual early Sunday morning grocery shopping, and as I waited outside for the store to open, I asked the other middle-aged guy standing there what he thought about Occupy Wall Street. I was surprised at the bitterness with which he pronounced them all to be "idiots". Vehemently, he insisted that they would accomplish nothing. I was feeling patient and curious, so I asked him a few questions, in that Socratic method that I have worked so hard to develop, and it soon became apparent he hadn't really thought the issue out at all, but he was bitter, angry, and resentful at the folks in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

I have seen a surprising amount of this attitude in the last week or so, and it puzzles me. I spent most of the rest of the day pondering that, in a back-of-the-mind sort of a way, and sometime in mid-afternoon it occurred to me in a blinding flash. They're ashamed.

People like the man I spoke with outside the grocery store are ashamed because they know they should be doing something. They see the problems with America, they know it is ultimately their responsibility as citizens to correct the situation, and yet they do nothing. And they feel shame for doing nothing, so they make excuses, saying that the movement will accomplish nothing, and angrily denouncing its members as idiots. They trivialize the Occupy movement in order to assuage their own feelings of guilt.

The anger arises from shame, and guilt.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another Bullshit "Bomb Plot"

I'm not the first to say it, but this whole business of accusing Iran of plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador stinks to high heaven.

How dreadfully convenient that something like this should come up just as the Occupy Wall Street movement really starts to gain momentum. How convenient for Obama, and convenient for the corporate puppet-masters who so obviously pull his strings.

But most of all, the story is just not credible.

In the words of Pepe Escobar -

"No one ever lost money betting on the dull predictability of the US government. Just as Occupy Wall Street is firing imaginations all across the spectrum - piercing the noxious revolving door between government and casino capitalism - Washington brought us all down to earth, sensationally advertising an Iranian cum Mexican cartel terror plot straight out of The Fast and the Furious movie franchise. The potential victim: Adel al-Jubeir, the ambassador in the US of that lovely counter-revolutionary Mecca, Saudi Arabia."

Or, for a more Conservative view of the subject, try this piece by Hamid Dabashi, who says plaintively-

I am of a certain generation and analytical bend of mind that I cannot believe that Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States, can in bright daylight come to national television and just straight lie about a matter so dire and dangerous in its actual and potential consequences.

We have no way of challenging the veracity of what he says. He is privy to intelligence. We are not. He is a figure of authority - we must take what he says seriously. The very assumption and presumption of a democracy is that people in position of such power and authority don't just lie.

Right, Hamid, sure thing. What, our government, lie to us? Say it ain't true!

What's that you say? You want something more mainstream? OK, how about The Atlantic, FFS?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

UN Report Finds "Systematic Torture" in Afghanistan

Quoted from Al Jazeera English -
A United Nations report has found "compelling evidence" that Afghan intelligence officials at five detention centres "systematically tortured detainees for the purpose of obtaining confessions and information".

Yes, I know, you're thinking, "well, no shit, Sherlock...", but let's go through the motions, shall we?

Here is the original UN document, entitled UNAMA report: Mistreatment of conflict-related detainees in Afghan facilities.

Essentially, it confirms what we have already known for years. Beginning with the Bush administration, and continuing under the Obama administration, innocent people were randomly arrested by NATO forces and handed over to the Afghan government for torture. We knew that, or at least we had ample reason to suspect it. But this report gilds the lily by proving that our worst suspicions were and are true. This report documents the torture, again. As if Abu Ghraib were not enough.

See the official response by NATO's spokes-animal here.

Read the story on Al Jazeera English here.

And, of course, the question is, now what?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another Pogrom

Were you ever at a lynching? Were you ever someplace where an unbridled mob was beating you and your friends and then chasing you to beat you again? Were you ever the victim of wild violence before the blind eyes of policemen who ignored your desperate calls for help? Have you ever felt abandoned? The following story begins with with blood, but its point is the abandonment.

What happened Friday afternoon at the entrance to the settlement of Anatot was a pogrom, a lynching. There’s no other way to describe an event in which hundreds of large men are wildly beating and pursuing a nonviolent group of male and female activists for an extended period of time. There’s no way to convey to those who weren’t there the threatening sense of the approaching dark – not in words, not in pictures, not even in video.

The above is a quote from a new article at Desertpeace.

I'll let you go and read the rest for yourself. What needs to be said is that this is not an isolated incident. This is sadly typical of what is being done to the Palestinian people in the Occupied West Bank every week.

This is the kind of ugly story that the mainstream media here in the USA will never cover. Why? I think you know the answer to that...