Sunday, December 26, 2010

From American Revolutionary To American Apathy

Brad Mitchell
Activist Post

What happened Americans? Where is your fighting spirit? Where is your passion? Where is your pride? Your sense of dignity? Your self-worth? Is there anything that you really care about anymore?

Your personal privacy is gone. Your standard of living has plummeted. You can’t afford to live a basic middle-class life, even though you have two working parents. Your police force abuses its power; your politicians are corrupt and incompetent; you’re so far in debt that your American Dream is to make next month's payments, yet you trudge along grinding out a living like there’s something honorable about it.

The revolutionaries who started this country would look at the current population in disgust, and frankly so do I. Being an American myself I have been weighing two options in recent years: stay and fight, or bid good riddance and get out of this police state. I’ve seen a steady erosion of civil liberties, blatant violations of the Bill of Rights, complete disregard for the limits put in place by the US Constitution, all while our army and police force run around exerting their will, continually expanding, ultimately accountable to no one.

And the worst part is that Americans do nothing. For the life of me I cannot figure out why nobody cares. Is it because Dancing With The Stars is just so interesting you can't look outside at the world around you? Are you so concerned about voting for Bristol Palin to make the next round that you didn’t notice our government has literally inserted itself into every aspect of our lives? Look outside your personal bubble for the next 5 minutes, and see if you don’t find anything wrong with this picture.

In 2006, campus police tasered an unarmed UCLA student while he worked at the computer lab. They did this because he did not show them his student ID card. And if that weren’t bad enough, the entire library full of college students stood around and simply watched. OK, some of them shot video of it, as you can find it all over YouTube, but no one did anything to keep the police in check. And these are college students, who are supposed to be wild, crazy, and out of control. When your chance came to make a stand, you could do nothing but video it and stay out of the way, god forbid you put yourself out there . . . .

What would the college students of the 1960s have done in this situation? Given that they were having violent clashes with the real police every weekend about the Vietnam War, I think it is safe to assume they would have had these “campus cops” pissing their pants.

Speaking of war, did everyone forget that we invaded Iraq and killed civilians under false pretenses? There never were any so-called “WMDs” to justify going in there. Yet we did, and our military killed their citizens, and we completely destroyed a sovereign country even though we had absolutely no reason to. Where were the war protesters on this one? Actually, I did see a few protests on weekends, in certain cities. Well organized, permitted protests, sometimes with a few thousand people, following the marching path they got approval for from the city.

Again let’s look at the actions of the previous generation. How about the millions of people that marched in the Vietnam Moratorium? Millions of people all over the US stopped going to work and took a stand. Protests and marches were held in every city, all over the entire country, and attended by everyone from student activists, to the 9-5 corporate ladder climber. In Washington DC alone 500,000 showed up without a permit, didn’t follow the designated protest route, and surrounded the capital. They had the government trembling, as they knew they could no longer contain the will of the people.  Another example of people who got together, fought for what they wanted, and despite violent and sometime deadly opposition from the government, they succeeded. 

Back to recent days, how about the flat-out execution-style shooting of Oscar Grant at a train station in Oakland? A number of police detained several men, and placed one on his stomach, with his hands behind his back. Next thing you know, an officer pulls out his gun and shoots the man in the back, killing him. This was an unarmed man, on his stomach, who was restrained, with his hands behind him.

And what happened immediately after? Well, the train passengers videotaped it with their cell phones. But did anyone do anything? Did a single fellow officer raise their gun, and point it at the cop who just murdered a person who was in custody? No, of course they didn’t. Instead, the cops banded together and tried to collaborate and create a story that would justify the murder.

And the passengers on the train, how come no action on your part? I can see in all the videos that everyone is visibly upset and enraged at the event. How about several hundred of you step off the train, surround the officers, and make a statement that citizens won't stand for unjust murders committed by our “protectors"? Instead, you just walk off shaking your head, so you can go home and talk a big game on the Internet about what you witnessed, but ultimately did nothing about.

I’m pretty sure the generation before this one would have rushed the officer, rendered him powerless, and let the police know that they wouldn’t stand for abuses of power, excessive force, and murder of citizens. True, it wouldn’t have been an easy battle, and people would have been hurt, but somehow the previous generation knew that making a statement was a more important issue than worrying about whether you got a few lumps. Many even took bullets and sacrificed their lives, but they understood that important issues were bigger than their personal bubble.

How is it that the generation before this one had so much willpower they could actually stand up to authority and be proud of it? What changed to make the current one so pathetic in comparison? Seriously, the 60s generation brought the country to the brink of revolution over the Vietnam War. They thought our involvement was unjust, and they let the government know it. If the government disagreed they got louder and fought back. Granted it wasn’t easy, as everyone knows about the Kent State Massacre. But the point is, the students cared enough that this didn’t stop them. They kept on going, stronger than before, until they forced the government to listen.

Somehow the citizens of other countries still know how to slap the government back into its place. When an officer killed a young man in Greece, the country rioted against the police force for two weeks. The entire country got up and made a stand, without even being asked to. They didn’t know this kid, nor did they care about him personally. They cared about the fact that he was murdered by a police officer, and they needed to let the government know this act of aggression was intolerable. This resulted in 14 days of the police fearing for their lives and begging for the Greek citizens' forgiveness. When was the last time we saw police begging for forgiveness in the USA?

Somehow the citizens of England and France know how to fight back as well; take a look at what college students did in the UK when they raised tuition fees. From my recollection tuition fees have gone up every year in the US, for the past 10 years or so. I don’t think anyone has said or done anything about it. We just grovel at how expensive college has become and cut a check. And you all remember France right? They had days of fighting back against the establishment for passing unpopular benefit cutting packages. Looking at the published stats, 1 out of every 3 citizens was on the street taking action. They cut off fuel lines to the airport, effectively shutting down flights out of Paris International. When the government tried to get truckers to bring in fuel via an outside route, protesters stopped them, and the truckers joined the protest.

How is it that other countries that spend more time sleeping and relaxing than we do, can suddenly snap into action and defeat the government whenever they need to? As soon as the hand reaches too far, they band together, fight back, and let the authorities know that the power lies with the people; reminding them that they rule by the consent of the governed, not the other way around.

Somehow, resistance to tyranny takes place in other countries around the world, instinctively. No one organizes it; the people just react accordingly when they see their liberties being violated. Why doesn’t this happen in the USA? Are people that much more afraid here than in every other country in the world? Or are they simply lazy? Or just apathetic? Whatever the cause is, it’s made me lose hope that the people will ever win a “victory” over the tyrannical government.

Let's examine the latest example of government intrusion, which culminated in Opt-Out Day. We’ve all seen the ridiculous violations by the TSA.  Nov 24th was America's chance to finally take a shot back. Their opportunity to let the powers-that-be know they’ve stepped too far, and that when people band together they can form a force more powerful than any policy can ever be. Opt-Out day gave every one of you a chance to take a stand with three simple words “I Opt Out.”

Internet and media sources were buzzing with this all week, wondering what would happen. Would US citizens break the travel industry and finally show their true spirit? 100,000s of people online claimed they would indeed opt out, and make their demands known. But what happened on the official day? Big surprise . . . nothing. You couldn’t even take this little inconsequential step towards making a stand. A step that required nothing from you other than 3 words. You weren’t asked to riot, protest, take a precious day off work, or do anything that would put you at risk in the slightest. All you had to do was let the government know that you weren’t going to let them see you naked. For reasons I cannot understand, you couldn’t do it. Everyone talked a big game from their computer, but when put in a place where you had to take minimal action, you failed.

Of course there's the story that the TSA caved, and shut down its body scanners for Holiday travel, robbing the people of their victory on Opt-Out-Day. But what about the day after Thanksgiving? What about the day after that? How about yesterday, today, or tomorrow? These scanners are in action as we speak, as are the "enhanced pat-downs."  Meanwhile the American people continue along, accepting these repeated violations, while doing absolutely nothing about it. You don't need national Opt-Out-Day to take a stand here. Any day that someone tries to violate your personal privacy is your day to do something. Or any day you see it happening to someone else for that matter.

This so called “revolt” is just another example of how pathetic the American people have become with regard to confronting authority. And if airport violations aren't enough for you to care about, then get ready, as Janet Napolitano has made it clear that the groping and scanning is slated for the American streets. Naturally, it will start at Federal buildings and major public events, and then slowly but surely find its way onto buses, trains, at highway checkpoints, etc.  It seems that these checkpoints have actually already begun.

Perhaps that will be enough to get a rise out of the American population, not that I'm really holding out much hope these days. Somehow you can fight tooth-and-nail for a $199 flat screen TV on Black Friday, beating your fellow citizens senseless for something you don’t even need. However, when it comes time to protecting your civil liberties, which you truly do need, you won’t even open your mouth to voice some opposition. And I thought the priorities of the government were screwed up. 

After witnessing these disgusting displays by the American people, I think it’s time to bid adieu to this country. I can’t stand what the government has become, but what’s even harder to stand is what has happened to the people. I hope you all wake up one day and take a stand; I promise I’ll be the first one back as soon as that happens. Until then, enjoy having your genitalia fondled, I’m sure cavity searches are around the corner . . . we just need the “sphincter bomber” to strike first.

Note: This is not offensive violence I am giving examples of, or endorsing; this is defensive resistance to crimes committed by unbridled governments.

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