Arab spring to New York winter
I wrote this after the raid on Occupy Wall Street, but didn’t publish it because, well, because this is a sex blog not a blog about being a patriotic American. However, reading about OWS in the New Yorker this morning, I realized I really needed some closure and getting this out of my mental drafts folder is part of that…
I have several sexy drafts in the making, but I’m distracted by the chaos of new York. I am trying to reconcile in my head the events of last night, the blocked out press, the beaten protesters, the beaten city council member, the violation of a court order by mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD. And I can’t. I can’t reconcile this with my notion of America because this makes no sense. This not what democracy looks like, it is not what the United States of America one nation under god with liberty and justice for all looks like. And I say that not a member of the counter culture or the quickly growing disgruntled unemployed and underemployed populace. I say that as a concerned citizen, a voter, a tax payer, a fiscal conservative, a state’s rights advocate…an American.
I don’t want to camp in a park, I don’t even really want other people camped in my park, or half the causes they’re advocating for, but this is America! This is a country with a rich history of democracy, and erring on the side of people’s liberties. The home of the Minute Men, and the civil rights movement. A country where the words “a government for the people by the people and of the people shall not perish from this earth” are taught to every school child. A country where one of our first guiding principles, signed off on by our founding fathers, includes congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press. We are beating protesters and blocking journalists in America.
You can argue that if I still believe in America as the basin of democracy I have been living under a rock since the new deal. Hell, you can point out that this country was founded on slavery, and the exclusion of women from government, and you’d be right. Maybe I am too much of a patriot to embrace the truth about America but it is because I am pro-America that I stand against police brutality. It is because I am not willing to risk interfering with freedom of speech that I am willing to tolerate yelling hippie kids in my front lawn.
There are violent factions in the occupy movement just as there are violent and immoral factions in the ranks of the police. Every village has its idiots. I choose to focus on the beauty and power of the peaceful, to see the protesters body-checking rioters and the police pulling back their own bullies. To see the Oakland police officer who held off his advance while a handful of occupiers scrambled to move a heavy tent out of the way of the police line and made eye contact with me when I said, “thank you for your patience officer.” This is not an accident and this is not a war. We all want a better America for our children’s children. We all want fair wages and job security; the police don’t want to stand in freezing rain anymore than I do. I know, because I asked.
I am grateful to those who brave the cold and the fear to build a better America. I am grateful for the relative privilege I have had that allowed me to develop a trust in my government and for the advocacy and riotous kick in the ass that my friends have given me to make me aware of censorship and abuses of power because that awareness puts me in a position to fight for the America I believe in. This week, I read the NY Times with the thought “thank god anonymous exists” held prayer like in my mind. And I have shaken my head in disappointment and some of the factions within OWS. There are no easy answers or simple lines in the sand, we are too complex a people and a country for that, but I stand in awe of those who left the comforts of their own homes to gather in public spaces around the country and keep America honest.