Monday, October 17, 2011

Cops and Troops, Stand With the 99%

The revolution has begun. If you haven't noticed, it's time you noticed. Those in power have certainly noticed. They're worried as hell. And they should be. The movement afoot in the United States and around the world is the real deal. Take a deep breath. We may have a future.

There are a million questions we might ask. Here's one. What next? A movement of this magnitude, this resolve, this canniness, this sophistication, this selflessness, this moral fortitude will not just evaporate. But it may go in any of a number of directions, not all of which we can anticipate. But the bastards are going down. The question is how.

Cops are part of the 99%. So are troops. They are working class, hard working people who bravely risk their lives for two reasons. One is that by doing so they can earn a decent living, health care, a pension, a modicum of respect, and a chance to help their kids get a leg up. The other is because they believe they are working for good. Or they believed it. At some point. And they had reason to. But for many, that belief has eroded over time, stripped bare by political cronyism, hollow rhetoric, and the increasingly obvious greed, the insatiable, ruthless greed of the powerful. Most cops want to keep their cities and towns clean and safe, protect victims, and confront and stop criminals. Yet they see a system where they are called upon, time after time, to risk their lives defending the grandest of criminals, those who steal billions and produce nothing, who milk the public coffers to pile it atop their obscene booty, who poison our rivers, our air, our bodies, and our children's bodies to squeeze themselves another billion, who callously destroy whole communities to “cut costs” and then fly on private jets, who send our young men and women to kill or be killed, to be twisted and broken by the carnage of war, to be poisoned with depleted uranium in the name of a democracy we all know to be a farce.

Troops are part of the 99%. Like the cops. They enlisted because their neighborhoods, their towns, their whole cities have been turned into post-industrial wastelands with real unemployment often over 50%, just to fatten the wallets of the rich. They enlisted because if they're black and poor and undereducated, they have a one in two chance of winding up in shackles like so many of their ancestors. They enlisted because their options are so few and so poor. And yet, they enlisted because they love this country, what it was, what it should have been, or what it might yet be. They want to protect the Constitution, defend democracy, protect, at all costs, the American people and our collective dream against the tyranny of fascists. Yet they know damn well that they're sent to fight and kill and suffer and die because it makes a few people rich, the people who call the shots, the people who dare to call their unbridled greed “American interests.” They know that Goldman can count on giant bailouts and Halliburton on extortionist contracts but that they, themselves, will be lucky to get half the treatment they need at a financially crippled VA hospital. They see what the US brings to Iraq, to Afghanistan, to wherever they're sent to fight, kill, suffer, and die, and that it has nothing to do with democracy, the Constitution, or freedom from fascism.

Fascism. It's a word with a meaning. We aren't supposed to know the meaning. We're supposed to think it means “bad guys,” “Nazis,” “the other.” It has a meaning. The man who coined the term and created the first fascist movement, Benito Mussolini, made it clear as day. “Fascism should, more properly, be called corporatism, for it is the complete merging of state and corporate power.” I love America. I love this land and its people. I love Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, and Gillian Welch. I love Tecumseh, Henry David Thoreau, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Mother Jones. I love our great poets, our great painters. I love barbeque, Kentucky bourbon, and California wine. I love America. But our political and economic elite have created the most fascist system the world has ever seen. It is ruining our lives, it is ruining everything decent in our society, and it is ruining the very Earth itself. I do not hate America. I love it. Therefore, I hate American fascism and I hate the fascists who have the audacity to call themselves the “real Americans.” So should you. So should the cops and troops who risk their lives trying to make this world a little better.

Cops, troops, stand with your sisters and brothers, stand with the 99% who have seen and felt enough of American fascism to know that it's time for it to go. Lay down your guns, or, better still, use them to protect the people, not the fascists. We owe them nothing. Stand with the brave people of your country and help them build a better society, one where the Constitution can live once more, where democracy can flourish throughout the land as it flourishes now in Liberty Park and in the dozens of other protest communities across this nation and around the globe. Don't block the way into the Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, Goldman and Citibank, lead the charge! This is your country. These are your people.

We stand at a decisive moment in history. This can be a velvet revolution. This can be a bloodless coup to restore the honesty and dignity of the America we all long for, the America we now strive to realize. Or this can be a bloodbath, and could even be in vain. Much depends on the cops and the troops. I do not believe, cannot believe, they want to beat, gas, bomb, or shoot their countrymen to defend the world's grandest criminals. Now is the time to realize, they don't have to. When the chain of command becomes corrupt at the top, the brave and the good people in uniform must determine, difficult though it is, to honor their allegiance to a deeper, more unshakeable authority. To many, this is God. To all, it is conscience.

The revolution has begun. Or maybe it's a counter-revolution, striving not to destroy but to restore. We do not know just where it will lead, what heroes and villains will manifest, what names and dates will be etched onto the memory of a generation's collective consciousness, perhaps onto those of generations yet to come. But this is our history. It lives in our hands, in our minds, in our hearts. Brothers and sisters in uniform, use your power for good as you've always meant to do. Stand with the people, help us bring down the bastards, and help us all make this world not just a little bit better but, in this rare historical moment, so rich in possibility, a lot better. We need it. We can do it. It's up to us. We are the 99%. So are you.

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