This is in response to the response to the article by Moon of Alabama, and the long string of commentary from a mixture of worldviews, most of which seemed not to recognize that their world differed in any particulars from the others. I was going to make a couple of remarks and move on. But a lot of smart people seem to place very different emphasis on some pertinent central facts of the case. Maybe they had an argument they wanted to make, and these facts didn't help, I don't know. But what follows is not from research papers or PBS documentaries. It's my eyewitness account from the vantage point of seven decades.
What caused me to start in the first place was that somebody compared one of the terrorists to Abbie Hoffman. I never appreciated ol' Abbie that much, but I don't see why we should be held to some idea of consistency, as if Hoffman would have done the same things that guy lounging at the Speaker's desk did; as if it matters. I'm not interested in such straw-man baloney. Hoffman's dead, but some of his actions did people good. What we got to deal with now is an extremely dangerous group that's getting lots of people killed.
It's apples and bananas. Wednesday was nothing like my night on the steps of the Pentagon, or any other sixties upheaval. Wednesday was not a "protest" or "civil disobedience." Wednesday was an attempt, and maybe only the beginning of the attempt, to end even the pretense of American big-D Democracy. It is by no means over.
Some people maybe tried really, really hard to get their grievances heard. Been there, done that. And that's where I knew this would have to be longer than a comment on a thread. A lot of us have been there and done that. An awful lot of us have died trying, without harming anybody else, though they had good reasons to want to. Four dead in O-High-O. But we didn't try to take the government down, hiding behind a crazed mob. When these folks didn't get the answers they thought they deserved, instead of persevering through legitimate channels, which are broad and well-marked and well-populated with great servant-leaders living and dead, they got on the bus to DC ready to do whatever their TV idol told them. Or merely hinted at. And they are almost certain to show up again, on Inauguration Day.
We didn't try to scare the daylights out of people. You can tell by the methods we used. We tried to expose them to experience that could change their minds, open their eyes to some difficult truths. We didn't lie to them about the other political party selling children from the basement of a pizza joint, while the president was ripping children away from parents fleeing death squads trained at the School of the Americas (or whatever they call it now).
The way to do this is best illustrated by a hunger strike. Put yourself in an uncomfortable position for which there is no rational explanation other than a moral truth. Risking jail, and sometimes getting locked up, when you could just ignore the injustice being perpetrated on your neighbors. Today's version of this is the Water Protectors and the Black Lives Matter and Pride movements. BLM protesters aren't looting and burning, that's done to discredit them. And they aren't shooting people at random like that kid in Kenosha did. They're not shooting at all.
We could have avoided all that trouble. But a lot of us care about other human beings enough to draw the line. When other people see this, some of them are moved, and learn something about humanity they may not have seen before: not everyone is out to grab everything for themselves. That's a pivotal moment. It happens a lot more than anybody thinks possible. It's happening now all over America, as people learn about prisoners refusing food about the SARS-2 CoV19-infested overcrowded private for-profit prison system. Or people refusing to eat in ICE detention centers filled with people whose "crime" is being brought to America as young children by parents saving them from death.
It's all about attention in this Attention Age, not information. Information does not cut the mustard anymore! Just getting people to look. Just look. Human beings will see, if they look, sometimes.
From back in the day, down to the present, we tried to stop the rampant racism and xenophobia and exploitation and forced sterilizations. Many among us had lost our entire families in Hitler's Germany, and been turned away on ships as refugees, and jailed for objecting to the wars. We tried to stop the biological weapons development at Fort Detrick, Maryland. We tried to stop the the atom bomb tests, and the human radiological experimentation that went along with it. We tried to stop the industrial pollution of our land and water and oceans and air. We tried to stop the colonialist wars so many more of us now regret, and were so deeply wounded by. We tried to stop the lynchings and segregation and other myriad abuses from generations of enslavement, at serious personal risk. We did everything we could think to do about these and a thousand other horrors.
We made a dent. A difference. But it's far from over. These days, when we raise the issue of the ongoing genocide being perpetrated against Palestinians in broad daylight, very largely at American taxpayer expense, the reaction from the Israel lobby can be swift and devastating. It can come from within the halls of Congress.
Oh, yes, Congress. The Wednesday mob, that motley assortment of disgruntled white people, they were not a movement with deep roots in four centuries of systemic exploitation, oppression, repression, and depression. They were the left-behind, from mechanization, off-shoring, banking scandals, market crashes culminating in the real estate bubble that destroyed what was left of the New Deal. They were told it was hordes of rapists pouring over the borders and stealing their jobs.
These were the unlucky patsies for another group of people, about whom there is no doubt as to their intentions and motives. They have been explicit and loud about their racism and disdain for Democracy. They are explicit about trying to establish a two-tiered society, with white people at the top enjoying full citizenship, and everyone else forced to use different bathrooms and restaurants.
We, (Abbie's contemporaries), weren't trying to keep people from moving into our country from the Global South. We weren't trying to hunt down and deport eleven million of our own neighbors who had lived among us long enough to have American children and grandchildren who speak little Spanish. And we were surely not trying to cut off most of humanity from access to potable water, energy, shelter, food, healthcare, or even life itself, in the face of global warming, pandemic, and imminent extinction. That's what Steven Miller and Steve Bannon and the rest of the president's men are up to. That's the fanatics among them. Others, like Rudy and Sidney (also perhaps Hoffman contemporaries) are apparently just addicted to power, any way they can get it. That's what all that "trial by combat" hogwash and nazi paraphernalia and T-shirt slogans are about. That legal dream-team will say and do anything, so they may shift positions quickly, where the white-supremacy crew will not. We'll see.
The inner circle come with fanatical followings of their own. They printed the T-shirts with the date. They ran sophisticated "social" media campaigns. They brought hi-tech tactical gear. Many were veterans and law enforcement (some active duty, and some even on duty that day). They had planned carefully what they would do while their clueless shivering fanbase roamed the halls of power, thinking they had won a revolution, all indignant when some officer who took the job seriously, maced them.
The actual perps were clearly aided and abetted. Michael Moore is one of the few people who still has credibility. He earned this by warning about events that proved his assessments to be quite accurate. Watch his video, it's just him explaining our precarious position. But the case is simple and straightforward. We all saw it unfold in real-time. The main question is: where were the cops?
Like Michael Moore, I've been in the Capitol. I had an uncle who worked for Kennedy, and got to ride those open subway carriages between the Capitol and the office buildings, and lunch in the cafeteria. Later I lived in DC. I know from thirty and forty years ago how hard it would be to get into the building, especially during such an important joint session of Congress. If, that is, there was normal security in position. Even before they put up those concrete barricades around the White House. Did you know you could go knock on the front door once upon a time?
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