Anti-Imperialism Speech - Colorado Springs Socialist, March 26, 2017
There’s this movie from 1990 starring Dennis Hopper and Keifer Sutherland. Not the best movie, not a whole lotta people saw it. Dennis Hopper plays a radical hippy, on the run from the law, and for some reason I always remember this one line: the 1990s are gonna make the 1960s look like the 1950s.
He was talking about my generation rising up and fighting for social justice. Gen X, the kids that grew up knowing that everyone will die in a nuclear war. And that there was absolutely nothing we could do about it.
But even with our government’s constant fear mongering - in order to justify military expenses like the infamous $640 toilet seat - the 80s also taught us that we could:
- save the South American rainforest
- feed starving people in Africa
- end apartheid in South Africa
- and tear down the Berlin Wall.
Of course, “they” saw what was happening and didn't like it. They saw white college kids siding with Rodney King, and embracing rap, Spike Lee, and shows like In Living Color and Showtime at the Apollo. You know, like black people were just regular folk.
But they were smart. They saw our reaction to them killing kids at Waco and Ruby Ridge, and they learned from it.
So they didn’t fight us.
No, they bought our silence.
They bought our silence with credit cards and loans. Banks practically threw money at us. They never verified our income ; they knew our parents would pay back whatever we owed. Even the “penalties” weren’t that bad … a couple payments down the road and they raised your credit limit.
So instead of being outraged that American companies were moving production to China because they could pollute the environment over there as much as they wanted, we used our credit cards to collect Beanie Babies and Furbies.
Instead of being outraged that American companies operating in foreign countries were paying their workers slave wages to build our electronics, we bought more big-screen TVs.
Instead of being outraged that family farms were being grabbed up by corporations, and that those agricultural corporations were creating an entire slave class of illegal migrant workers, we took out home equity loans to go on Disney vacations.
We started to struggle, bending under the weight of all that credit card debt, so the banks came up with sub-prime, adjustable rate mortgages and car leases. We all know how that turned out.
They paid us to ignore the issues, and we complied.
The war in the Middle East was particularly effective towards their goal; they often paid service members tens of thousands - if not hundreds of thousands - of dollars to compel participation in those illegal actions. Actions that left many of those service members physically and mentally broken and having to beg for the bare minimum of care, now that they are no longer useful to the system that ate them up and spit them out.
Financial desperation drove many people into the military, and I greatly fear that with the current sword rattling, the only place that young people will be able to afford to raise a family is in the military.
I worked in retail in 1990, at a clothing store in the Cherry Creek Mall. I had health insurance, paid sick days and paid vacation.
My children do not have these same opportunities. When my kids go to college, they will NEVER be free of college debt. When they graduate, there is a very good chance that they will have to work in a job that does not offer health insurance, paid sick leave or paid vacations.
My children are not losing jobs because to immigrants. They already lost those jobs, decades ago, when greedy companies chose to oppress the peoples of developing countries. Companies like Nestle, Unilever and Benckiser, that own so many products, it is essentially impossible to boycott them.
Not only that, but my children now live under the very real threat of nuclear war. Did you ever think that we would be back in this place again?
The hush money they bribed us with is GONE. We must raise our voices and stand for what is right, not just for those things that are profitable.