Retaining one's humanity inthe face of tyranny
By Phil Rockstroh
For days now, we have endured demonstrably false propagandathat the fallen soldiers of U.S. wars sacrificed their lives for "ourfreedoms." Yet, as that noxious nonsense still lingers in the air,militarized police have invaded OWS sites in numerous cities, including Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, and, in the boilerplate description of thewitless courtesans of the corporate media, with the mission to "evict theoccupiers".
U.S soldiers died protecting what and who again? Theseactions should make this much clear: The U.S. military and the police exist toprotect the 1%. At this point, the ideal of freedom will be carried by thosewilling to resist cops and soldiers. There have been many who have struggledand often died for freedom--but scant few were clad in uniforms issued bygovernments.
Freedom rises despite cops and soldiers not because of them.And that is exactly why those who despise freedom propagate militaryhagiography and fetishize those wearing uniforms--so they can give the idea ofliberty lip service as all the while they order it crushed.
When anyone tells you that dead soldiers and veterans diedfor your freedom, it is your duty to occupy reality and inform them of just howmistaken they are. And if you truly cherish the concepts of freedom andliberty, you just might be called on to face mindless arrays of fascist copsand lose your freedom, for a time, going to jail, so others might, at somepoint, gain their freedom.
I was born in Birmingham Alabama, at slightly past themid-point of the decade of the 1950s. Many of my earliest memories involve thestruggle for civil rights that was transpiring on the streets of my hometown.
My father was employed at a scrap metal yard but also workedas a freelance photojournalist who hawked his work to media photo syndicatessuch as Black Star who then sold his wares to the major newsmagazines of theday. A number of the iconic photographs of the era were captured by his Nikoncamera e.g., of vicious police dogs unleashed on peaceful demonstrators; ofdemonstrators cartwheeled down city streets by the force of fire hoses; of Dr.King and other civil rights marchers kneeled in prayer before arrays of PoliceChief Bull Connor's thuggish ranks of racist cops.
In Birmingham, racist laws and racial and economicinequality were the progenitors of acts of official viciousness. The socialstructure in place was indefensible. Reason and common decency held no dominionin the justifications for the established order that was posited by thesystem's apologists and enforcers; therefore, brutality filled the void createdby the absence of their humanity.
And the same situation is extant in the growing suppressionof the OWS movement in various cities, nationwide, including Liberty Park inLower Manhattan. The 1% and their paid operatives--local city officials--arestriving to protect an unjust, inherently dishonest status quo. Lacking a moralmandate, they are prone to the use of police state forms of repression.
Dr. King et al faced their oppressors on the streets of myhometown. Civil Rights activists knew that they had to hold their ground toretain their dignity…that it was imperative to sit down in those Jim Crow-tyrannizedstreets when necessary in order to stand up against the forces ofoppression.
At present, we have arrived at a similar moment. If justiceis to prevail, it seems, the air of U.S. cities will hold the acrid sting oftear gas, the jails will again be filled, the brave will endure brutality--yetthe corrupt system will crumble. Because the system's protectors themselveswill bring it down by revealing its empty nature, and the corrupt structurewill collapse from within.
Yet, when riot police attack unarmed, peacefully resistingprotesters, the mainstream media often describes the events with standardboilerplate such as "police clash with demonstrators."
This is inaccurate (at best) reportage. It suggest that bothparties are equal aggressors in the situation, and the motive of the police isto restore order and maintain the peace, as opposed to, inflicting pain andcreating an aura of intimidation.
This is analogous to describing a mugging as simply: twoparties engaging in a financial transaction.
Although mainstream media demurred from limning theupwelling of mob violence at Penn. State as involving any criteria deeper thanthe mindless rage of a few football-besotted students unloosed by the dismissalof beloved sport figure.
Yet there exists an element that the Penn. Statebelligerents and OWS activists have in common: a sense of alienation.
Penn. State students rioted because life in the corporatestate is so devoid of meaning...that identification with a sports team gives anempty existence said meaning…These are young people, coming of age in a time ofdebt-slavery and diminished job prospects, who were born and raised in, andknow of no existence other than, life as lived in U.S. nothingvilles i.e., apublic realm devoid of just that--a public realm--an atomizing center-bereftculture of strip malls, office parks, fast food eateries and the electronicghosts wafting the air of social media.
Contrived sport spectacles provisionally give an empty lifemeaning…Take that away, and a mindless rampage might ensue…Anything but facethe emptiness and acknowledge one's complicity therein, and then direct one'sfury at the creators of the stultified conditions of this culture.
It is a given, the cameras of corporate media swivel towardsreckless actions not mindful commitment…are attuned to verbal contretemps notthoughtful conviction--and then move on. And we will click our TV remotes andscan the Internet…restless, hollowed out…eating empty memes…skimming thesurface of the electronic sheen.
These are the areas we are induced to direct ourattention--as the oceans of the earth are dying…these massive life-sustainingbodies of water have less then 50 years before they will be dead. This factalone should knock us to our knees in lamentation…should sent us reeling intothe streets in displays of public grief…
Accordingly, we should not only occupy--but inhabit ourrage. No more tittering at celebrity/political class contretemps--it is timefor focused fury. The machinery of the corporate/police state must bedismantled.
If the corporate boardrooms have to be emptied--for theoceans to be replenished with abundant life--then so be it. If one must go tojail for committing acts of civil disobedience to free one's heart--then itmust be done.
Yet why does the act of challenging the degraded status quoprovoke such a high decree of misapprehension, anxiety, and outright hostilityfrom many, both in positions of authority and among so many of the exploitedand dispossessed of the corporate/consumer state.
For example, why did the fatal shooting incident in Oakland,California, Nov. 1, that occurred near the Occupy Oakland Encampment--but,apparently, was wholly unrelated to OWS activity cause a firestorm of recklessspeculation and false associations.
Because any exercise in freedom makes people in ourhabitually authoritarian nation damn uneasy…a sense of uncertainty brings ondread--the feeling that something terrible is to come from challenging aprevailing order, even as degraded as it is.
Tyrants always promise safety; their apologist warn of chaosif and when the soul-numbing order is challenged.
Granted, it is a given that there exists a sense ofcertainty in a prison routine: high walls and guards and gun mounts ensurecontinuity; an uncertainty-banishing schedule is enforced. Moreover, solitaryconfinement offers an even more orderly situation…uncertainty is circumscribedas freedom is banished.
The corporate/national security state, by its very nature isanti-liberty and anti-freedom. Of course, its defenders give lip service to theconcept of freedom...much in the manner a pick-pocket working a subway train isvery much in favor of the virtues of public transportation.
A heavy police presence has ringed Zuccotti Park from theget-go, and whose ranks have now staged a military style raid upon it, adefacto search and destroy mission--because the ruling elite want to suppressthe very impulse of freedom. These authoritarian bullies don't want the conceptto escape the collective prison of the mind erected and maintained by thecorrupt jailers comprising the 1% who claim they offer us protection as, allthe while, they hold our chains…all for our own good, they insist…for oursafety and the safety of others.
Although, from studying on these prison walls, the thoughtoccurs to me…that what we might need is protection from all this safety.
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