In today’s opinion piece by CODE PINK’s Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J S Davies, the authors — looking at protest movements in Chile, Lebanon, France, the U.K., Iraq, and beyond — pose the question, “Why Aren’t People in the US Rising Up Like Those Elsewhere in the World?”
We did. It was called Occupy Wall Street, and it was a thing of beauty. I participated in demonstrations in Fremont, Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, and Sacramento (made signs, gave speeches, distributed literature, posted blogs, invited friends, donated books/food, collected litter, etc.).
But then President Obama shut us down with his illegal, private contractor-employing, federally-coordinated, 18-city crackdown…
Sadly, Medea and her cohort write that “Occupy lost momentum because it failed to transition…” What a disheartening revision of history that phrase represents, amounting to an apologia for Obama’s draconian response to our peaceful movement. OWS didn’t “fail,” we were brutally crushed.
Burning our libraries, spraying us with pepper spray, firing tear gas canisters into peaceful protesters (including at point-blank range, causing serious injuries), and entrapping OWS demonstrators and journalists, alike (arresting us by the hundreds in NYC alone)…
Obama’s crackdown was more brutal than anything Trump has done, save for at the border — where Obama created the template, caging children by the thousands after putting ICE on steroids (deporting more immigrants and refugees than all 20th-century presidents combined).
So, let’s be honest: The last gasp of democracy in the U.S. was extinguished several years ago, when “Hope & Change” was cruelly twisted into Despair & Continuity, and the most radical, neo-fascist policies of Bush/Cheney were normalized:
– Wall Street’s $16-trillion coup de grace to the middle class and the ascendance of the neocon agenda had been consummated;
– Bush’s cruelly regressive tax cuts had been made permanent — just when they were about to “sunset” for good;
– the Global War of Terror had been expanded to seven nations, as President Obama queued up mass-starvation in Yemen and fundamentally did to Libya and Syria what George W. Bush had done to Iraq, resulting in over 500,000 fresh corpses and over 10 million new refugees (and the rise of open-air slave markets in Libya, following Qaddafi’s lynching);
– a second Mujaheddin army had been created by Washington and Riyadh (together again), with the purpose of overthrowing the Assad government in Damascus;
– habeas corpus, along with the Bill of Rights, had been retired, as indefinite detention, cruel and unusual punishment, and the assassination of U.S. citizens uncharged with any crime had been “legalized;”
– the surveillance-state was normalized, even though Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, had been caught lying to the U.S. Senate about the NSA’s warrantless spying on Americans;
– Posse Comitatus was repealed (henceforth, the U.S. military could be deployed against American citizens on American soil);
– the Smith-Mundt Act was repealed (henceforth, the U.S. government could legally propagandize the American people, here at home… which does a lot to explain the origins of Russiagate);
– the Cold War had been brought back from the dead, and the table set for WWIII (in Ukraine, where Washington’s coup had empowered bona fide neo-Nazis, and elsewhere on Russia’s borders);
– adversarial journalism had been effectively quashed — with the Espionage Act being used against whistleblowers and journalists twice as many times under Obama as under all previous presidents combined (and Julian Assange persecuted and hunted like a terrorist — Obama’s VP, 2019 Democratic “frontrunner,” Joe Biden, actually called Assange a “terrorist,” and Sec. Clinton inquired, “Can’t we just drone this guy?”);
– and the process for nominating Democratic presidential candidates had been thoroughly corrupted and rigged, with the corporatized “Free Press” wholly complicit, smearing and disappearing Bernie Sanders in the service of the oligarchy’s preferred candidate, the “Queen of Warmongers.”
While all this was happening, thanks to the grotesqueness of Republicans, most of the left – including excellent activist groups and genuine progressives — were utterly fucking silent.
(To their lasting shame.)
I guess they were saving their highly-selective outrage for the MIC-hated nincompoop, Donald Trump — a hideous baboon of a person who nonetheless has stalled the neocon agenda and hasn’t done nearly as much harm to the nation and world that his immediate few predecessors did (no thanks to Trump, but mostly because his abysmal predecessors didn’t leave much of value for Trump to damage/degrade, so far as our nation’s institutions are concerned).
Enough with the partisanship! We’ve been divided and conquered thoroughly enough without exacerbating the situation further!
We did rise up. Only the “Good Guy” from the “liberal” party crushed us like ants.
(When are we going to learn that we defeat Trump/Trump-ism not by overlooking and excusing the crimes of comparably evil and corrupt politicians and the neo-fascist deep state, but only by championing The Good: Bernie, Tulsi, AOC, Ilhan Omar and the Squad, Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald, Wikileaks, Anya Parampil, Katie Halper, Matt Taibbi, Aaron Mate, Eva Bartlett, Amy Goodman, Max Blumenthal, Naomi Klein, Prof. Stephen F. Cohen, Greta Thunberg… the few brave souls who speak truth to power!)