It Takes All of US
After more than half a year of securing my own future and neglecting my online status, I now have the time to continue where I left off. As much as things change over time, they stay the same.
I am in Washington, DC, a territory of the United States of America this winter. I say a territory, but with perhaps less status than other US territories like Puerto Rico or Guam. You see, residents of other US territories don't have voting representation in congress, and neither does the District of Columbia, but neither do they bear the burden of paying federal income taxes as do District residents. And the others get to field their own olympic team, while the District does not. Confusing, you say? Sort of like a US foreign policy that champions trade with totalitarian red China while enforcing an economic embargo on the poor island of Cuba for not wanting to be a US model island like Haiti.
Yesterday, there was a peace protest down by the Capitol. It was the first one I attended, and was an experience full of revelation. The first thing I noticed was that the mall was set up to enforce crowd control. Peaceniks were allowed to walk only in fenced off areas to get to a somewhat larger open area where the official speakers were to speak, with such amplification that others had a hard time hearing eachother. The next thing was that as a demostration novice, I was being bombarded with organizations wanting me to wear their stickers, carry their signs, take their newspapers, and donate some all important greenbacks. They tricked me for a minute and I started to collect signs because I had come unprepared in that regard. But then I saw many who had created their own signs and realized that the mass message wasn't the same message I would choose if I were to make a sign. The mass messages seemed to be:
1. No to the surge
2. US out of Iraq because too many soldiers have died there (it's making us look bad)
3. Fairness to Palestine
As Martin Luther King day has passed, literally and figuratively, of course being in the Empire for the first extended time in many years at this time of year, it was fresh on my mind. To further emphasize the importance to me personally, I just found out that my mother, pregnant with me, went to King's march in 1963. King was successful because a majority of Americans were against the physical thuggery of white on black crime that defined black peoples' daily existence in the deep South. The latter years of the reverend's life were spent preaching against the economic repression and the war in Vietnam, where he got far less support. But now that he's dead and no longer a threat to the system, we celebrate him as a friendly loveable hero, much like Christ.
Well, the signs to me pointed at the same kind of thing, where Americans are put off by images and news of dead American soldiers in the one place in the world that is receiving corporate media attention, Iraq. It's like saying Iraq is bad because we're getting bad press - and the press can't ignore dead US soldiers just like it couldn't ignore peaceful blacks with baton bloodied faces.
And at the same time saying that the answer to Palestinians is an unequal two state solution. Common sense would say that if the US lived up to its founding principles, US foreign policy would champion a one-state one vote per adult democracy with equal rights, strong anti-discrimination laws, and just compensation (fair market value) for those who were dispossesed in the region. Call it Islestine or Palrael, or call it whatever you like but don't support an unequal 'solution' as being fair.
Out of the powerful PA zones, there were many groups of independently minded peaceniks, performing theatre, puppet shows, drum music, and engaging in meaningful conversation. There was a brilliant piece of artwork which was a paper wall of the thousands of names of dead US soldiers. What made it brilliant was that it was not secured to the ground, and to stand it required volunteers to hold it up. So by holding up the weight of the dead, we were supporting them, and that was beautiful and moving. And it was precisely here, in the independent zones, where the police presence made itself known. Cops were roaring around on motorcycles, oddly enough some of which had 'Rebel' emblazoned on the gas tank, popping wheelies and screeching rubber like one would expect from Hell's Angel thugs, not in the spirit of fairness and equality one would associate from upholders of the law in what people fondly refer to as the capital of the free world.
And that's exactly the point here. If you look at representatives of the System and judge actions louder than words, you quickly discover that official policy is thuggery and intimidation.
So if I had another chance, I would create a sign that would say "Thuggery as Foreign Policy is Unamerican in Spirit."