Monday, September 26, 2011

Regrets

It is easy to write off the members of the Eris Parade. They didn't have a permit to parade, and some of them were vandalizing property. I find it abhorrent that the police acted the way they did when they came for the paraders, and that the "justice" system in feudal New Orleans is so corrupted that it will disregard video evidence. But I'm not going to say anything, because I'd rather be associated with violent behavior by police than unruly behavior by some smelly, tattooed revelers. Those people aren't like me. And the police have a thankless job to do, so I'm going to cut them some slack like always.

It is equally easy to write off the tattooed protesters on Wall Street. These folks are definitely in the streets without a permit, doing silly things like disrupting traffic and chanting stupid things and generally making a spectacle of themselves. Not only do I find such behavior useless and unsavory, I think their shenanigans undercut my liberal credibility with the independents and the good middle class folks out there in Real America. I mean, everybody knows that the only protesters who are getting on the news these days are the corporately sponsored Tea Party, so these folks are basically bringing this on themselves. So what if the police are getting a little rough when they came for those women? Those women aren't like me. And the police have a thankless job to do, so I'm going to cut them some slack like always.

So I'm not going to say anything. And by "say something" I mean get involved. Get on the record. Write some letters to locally elected officials. Start getting out and raising hell about the criminal justice system run by the locals who live where I live. Not over people like this.

No. I'm not going to say anything like that. I'm going to let it slide, and tune into Maddow or Olbermann or the Daily Show and fuss to my like-minded friends about how Obama is really a Republican and how awful it would be if someone like Rick Perry became President and how it sucks that all the politicians in Washington are owned by lobbyists and stuff. Maybe I'll post about some hypocritical Tea Partier who desperately desires government funding for pork projects in their district far away from where I live. Maybe I'll talk about Guantanamo Bay because torture sucks. Maybe I'll write a post on my blog about how somebody somewhere should do something to keep this stuff in check, and bemoan the fact that no one seems to be stepping up to do it. Where the hell are they, anyway? Monday Night Football is on, and I shouldn't have to be thinking about complicated stuff like this.

No. I'm not going to say anything. I'll not take a position, and wait for the next outrageous national issue over which I have no control to show up in the news, so I can say something about that. It will probably be something snarky and irreverent. But it won't matter, it won't take a lot of thought, and maybe some friends will like it on Facebook. It won't be a difficult thing to do like say something about the way my local police treat revelers in the streets, how my local judges need to be more professional, and how, if we can't control our own local systems, why do we think anyone can control them on a national level?

...

And one when day they come for me, or find me in the streets, or catch me up in the system from which I can't get out, there will be no one left to speak for me. I won't be like them. The police have a thankless job to do, so they'll be cut some slack as always. And no one will say anything. Not for someone like me.


It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt

- John Philpot Curran


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4 comments:

Maitri said...

Did you write that post from Wall Street? Because if you did, that would be badass. :-D

My protest is to write letters, write about it on my blog and, lately, take every opportunity to get the TSA patdown and not a private one. Because I want the world to see that they did come for me and do before every flight I take, i.e. by othering an American citizen with their uneducated racial profiling. Let them know about the abuses people who look like me take everyday just to make it in this country.

And the sad thing is that in the grand scheme of things you and I have it so much easier than most.

jeffrey said...

I'm trying to find the central point of this post. Is it:

1) The hippies "occupying Wall Street" are being ridiculous and unproductive.

Because I can agree with that for the most part. Although I don't think the problem is that they've "undercut (your) credibility with liberal credibility with the independents and the good middle class folks out there in Real America." For one thing that phrasing confuses me because it looks like it's meant ironically but I'm not sure it is. Are you worried about your "credibility" or not? Do you actually mean to tell us that Tea Party protesters, as ridiculous as they may be, deserve the pass they get for being as nutty as the hippies who apparently discredit their cause?

Anyway you seem to be missing the only real argument against the hippies which is their self-importance. I personally don't have a problem with their general antipathy toward the money power. What I find disgusting is the egotism involved in any one person's decision that he or she is THE man or woman to do something about it. Declaring oneself clever enough or brave enough or good enough to lead others or solve some great problem is perhaps the purest definition of douchebaggery in action.

Which brings me to my second question about the point of this post. Is it

2) Following, caring about, and perhaps maintaining a sense of humor about current events while also watching Monday Football without aspiring to some greater intensity "getting involved" is akin to some sort of servile indolence?

Surely you'd agree that reading the news and passing it around has some small value, right? What if we ran around demanding that everyone who read about a city budget hearing in the newspaper immediately draw up his or her own spreadsheet before sharing that article on Facebook? Should I build my own levee before making a joke about newspaper-stuffed floodwalls? What is your proscribed threshold for #standing, here?

People have opinions about matters that affect their lives. Sharing those opinions freely and enthusiastically isn't "indolence" it's a fundamental aspect of democracy.

Unlike the Wall Street hippies, informed non-participants are at least in possession of enough humility to understand their limitations. I'm not sure I can say the same thing for the crank who presumes to "do something" about an absurd world far larger than his or her own.

Sure, having access to information about the world around us is useful to our understanding of the forces to which we are subject. But it's a serious error of ego for us to think that we have either the ability or the mandate to personally insert ourselves into these events. And chastising others for having the good sense to understand that is the height of snobbish condescension.

jeffrey said...

Oh and hey get this. Did you know there's going to be an "Occupy NOLA" event? Yup. They got a regular internet, a Facebook, and a Tweeter Tube. Now all they need is a... thing to do and some people to do it. Maybe an actual space to "occupy" would be a start. I'm sure they'll figure that out at their organizational meeting. It takes place opposite this weekend's Saints game. Should be a big draw.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Glad that was a thought provoking post, y'all.

For one thing that phrasing confuses me because it looks like it's meant ironically but I'm not sure it is.

For what it is worth, I'm not terribly sure either. I went to write something, thought better of it, went to write something else, thought better of that, and then considered just not saying anything about it. Once I realized the trap I found myself it, I figured out what needed to be said.

My reaction is to write off people. My reaction is to cut authorities some slack. My reaction is to ignore the problem close to home and focus on one far away over which I have no control. My reaction is to post news stories without comment so my own "credibility" is not threatened. My reaction is to tune into an awful Dallas-Washington game and hope all this goes away and gets handled by someone else.

And the longer that has been my reaction, the less agency I have to affect the world around me in a positive way. One day, the system will catch me up, or someone close to me, and my options for challenging that system will be gone.