- Politics and Social Issues
Wait For The Babushkas
A Cold Night in Manhattan
According to reports that came out on 3/18, police forced a number of Occupy Wall Street protesters out of Zuccotti Park Saturday night at the point when the protesters broke the park's "rules" by assembling tents. (At 11:30 p.m., I can imagine Manhattan gets a bit chilly.) But constructing the tents was the catalyst for the police to come in and force everyone to move out, beating some occupiers in the process and detaining around 73 others.
After reading the short article, I started to wonder: are the non-participating but sympathetic faction of the 99% starting to become inured to these news clips because they are occurring on a regular basis. Many of the 1% are well-known figures, and, if they could, the occupiers would be sleeping on their lawns -- and that is far too close for comfort. The vast majority of protesters are nonviolent, but that doesn't make a difference in the minds of the 1%. Having people sleeping on the lawn of your ivory castle (in the minds of the 1%) is a kind of sacrilege -- it provides no barrier between "them" and "us," and the mere notion is intolerable.
In order for the 99% to get their "filthy hands" on the individuals of the small but highly influential subset of society, they have to either get around the thin blue line or have the thin blue line simply dissolve. The first prospect seems highly improbable because if the police ever become overwhelmed, it only takes one phone call from the governor to send in the National Guard, and they would provide an even more heavy-handed approach in dealing with the 99% occupiers. Perhaps you've read about those truck-mounted microwave ovens that can be used at a distance for crowd dispersal. And, of course, there are always the water cannons.
Maybe they can apply both approaches simultaneously and steam bake the 99% like so many broccoli buds inside a convenient cook-'n-serve bag. And since the police and the Guard have all the weapons, it's hard to imagine occupiers in Manhattan deliberately walking up to a line to get smashed on the head. This type of passive resistance died with Gandhi, and I'm not sure it even worked for him.
So, how can the 99% make any forward progress if the line in the sand has been drawn and to cross it means probable physical injury and/or jail time? Is there a way of negotiating with the police and the Guard? Can the 99% create any converts? The answer: Not likely as long as the man dressed in riot gear is rationalizing his actions as a duty to his city/nation/wife and children.
What worked remarkably well in Russia during the time of its failed revolt to overthrow Yeltsin was having old babushkas handing out cups of tea to the teenage tank commanders who wept at the miserable spot in which they had been placed. It didn't take too long for the tank commanders to jump down and join their comrades in swigs of vodka.
So, that is my best advice. Get grandma out of her rocking chair and have her stand in the front line, facing the police and the Guard (if necessary). Perhaps this absurd-sounding solution may have a chance once the flower children of the 60s get just a little bit older. It's one thing to smash the skull of some college kid wearing a Mohawk vs. a granny passing out cups of hot Starbucks coffee. How many police or soldiers could mace or pepper spray a kindly looking, old granny? Wouldn't even the most hard-hearted of police or Guard have his arm frozen at the prospect of causing injury to someone as vulnerable-looking as a Mother Teresa look-alike?
Forget about taking up arms -- that would only incite who knows what latent hostilities that cause men (and women) to become centurions of the republic. With the scolding/reproaching grannies on the side of the 99%, the tanks might be turned on the Capitol. Once you have the military on your side, it would be a tough slough for the most shrewd of the filthy rich and their machines of capitalism to reinstate their convoluted sentiment that they have some "God-given" inherent right to rule over the 99%.
A more equitable distribution of wealth wouldn't solve all of America's problems, but more important than the money is the idea in the minds of the 99%: The idea, the feeling that they finally arrived at a day where their opinion, their voice carried actual significance. Now that would be an awesome sight to behold.