Sunday, November 20, 2011
I don't usually write very explicitly about politics here; if you know me, you know where my sympathies lie. But now I'm just sickened. The police at Cal Davis (where, incidentally, I lived for a few months, exactly 50 years ago) have sprayed protesters (who were doing nothing more threatening than sitting on the ground with arms linked) directly in the face with pepper spray. A woman protesting in Portland was sprayed point-blank in the mouth. An 84-year-old woman was sprayed in Seattle.
It's nice to see how far our civilization has advanced since the Civil Rights days; in less than fifty years, we've gone from assaulting peaceful protesters with firehoses, billy clubs, and German shepherds to simply attacking them with something that a US Army study concluded can cause "mutagenic effects, carcinogenic effects, sensitization, cardiovascular and pulmonary toxicity, neurotoxicity, as well as possible human fatalities".
I'm so proud: unlike at Kent State and Jackson State when I was a senior in high school, nobody's been killed. Yet.
Personally, I'm completely behind the Occupy movements around the country and the world. We are systematically being ravaged by corporations, banks, and the politicians-- of both parties-- they own. The right-wing cries of "class warfare" are totally true... except it's not the middle class or the poor who have been waging it for all these years.
Call me a socialist if you like. I can take it. Hell, 75 years ago John Steinbeck was called a communist for standing up for migrant workers and working people against the banks and corporations that profited from their misery.
But suppose I'm totally wrong. Suppose corporations (as the Supreme Court and Mitt Romney have said) are people. Suppose the Occupy protesters really are lazy, dirty, communist hippies. Even so, do governments-- do the police-- have the right to assault and hospitalize peaceful protesters? Arrest them for trespassing, put them in jail. They did it to Dr. King. They did it to Nelson Mandela. They did it to Gandhi.
Here in South Korea, which was a draconian police state until the 1980s, every time there's a whiff of protest we see bus after bus after bus of police officers deployed. But in three-plus years, I've never seen anything like what I've seen recently in Davis and Portland and Seattle,,,
in the Land of the Free.