Something’s Happening Here

Watched about 20 minutes of a live video stream from Occupy Oakland tonight. Nothing much to be seen except people standing around on streetcorners, a bunch of cop cars lined up along a curb, assorted signs, whatever. What was interesting was not the video, which was frankly dull, but the meta-messages in the video:

(1) The whole world is watching, or at least can watch. This is one of the things that makes the police crazy, I’m sure — they don’t get to beat on people’s heads and then claim they didn’t.

(2) The invisible people who rule the world are runnin’ scared. Why else would they send out bunches of police in the middle of the night to bust the heads of folks who are doing nothing but stand on the street carrying signs?

(3) It isn’t local. Thanks to Twitter and other social media, people who are doing things in widely scattered places can stay in touch, pass ideas around, and support one another (emotionally or even financially).

(4) Ordinary people can make a difference.

I found myself singing, “Something’s happening here, and you don’t know what it is, do you, Mister Jones?” A very early Bob Dylan song, from back when Bob Dylan was still cool — a period that ended in 1969, about the time “Lay, Lady, Lay” was a hit. The social protests of the ’60s pretty much coincided with the Vietnam War; when the war ended, the movement dissolved. What we have now may prove to have more legs. For one thing, the economic injustices are more broad-based. More diffuse than young men getting killed in a jungle somewhere, but also a lot more broad-based.

Also, the religious right has become a potent negative force. I haven’t noticed anybody in the Occupy movement pointing a finger at the religious right, but I think it’s implicit. There are no Jesus freaks in Occupy; the two movements are diametrically opposed.

If you look at the Republican candidates for President (I’m writing this the week of the New Hampshire primary), what you see is a bunch of plastic men who are loudly and proudly championing vicious regressive social policies of the Christian persuasion, and they’re doing it as a smokescreen. It’s a conscious attempt to whip up fervor over things that don’t matter, in order to minimize the discussion of things that do matter.

In calling attention to the things that matter, Occupy is engaged in demonstrating that the concerns of the religious right are irrelevant. Something’s happening here.

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5 Responses to Something’s Happening Here

  1. Ron Greenman says:

    Nice piece! What else is happening is that even though your comments are only being read by a few, lots of others are making the same comments, and the listeners are then commenting, and because of social media your comment on my comment gets read by people you don’t know who then spread it by “liking” it to their friends and so on. And my experience has been that after someone on my son’s FB seeing my chats with him, then decides that I’m like minded and makes a friend’s request. Two major events happen then: There’s a collapse of generational animosities as we learn that we each have the same ideas on important stuff (and that leads to listening even to the disagreeable ideas we each might have–and that brings people, not classes of people, together), and that circle keeps growing. These are fascinating times and the lines of alliances (generational, educational, economic, etc.) are being disrupted due to this enhanced ability to communicate. And that’s why the police are there. Their corporate masters want to stip the communicating, the visuals, the messages, but they’re thwarted by the that communication. They mill about impotent adding that to the message, and if they act they add what you referred to the message. They can’t win and the masters don’t know how to deal with this. Fox and the other TV (corporate) news media repress the image (remember it even took NPR, bastion of the so-called “liberal media” two or three weeks to even report on OWS), and the traditional newspaper is not only local, but a dying duck. Real news is now in the hands of us and it spreads like a virus when it’s important. Our threat is too much information being available, so, in this case, I’m happy the storm troopers are on site to show that the corporates are afraid of just a few people “who are doing nothing but stand on the street carrying signs.” The fear is the message.

  2. chaircrusher says:

    There are a lot of progressive Christians and I bet more than a few are lining up with the Occupy movement. Google Jim Wallis, and you’ll find out about the people actually trying to live from Jesus’ example.

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