Friday, October 28, 2011
Scott Olsen's War Is Just Beginning -- Here in Amerika
My Teapot neighbors tell me I must "Support Our Troops" because they are fighting to preserve our freedoms.
Among those freedoms are citizens' absolute right to peaceable assembly for redress of grievances, and freedom of speech.
Scott Olsen went to Iraq as one of Our Troops and when he returned home to Oakland, CA, he exercised those rights, joining the Occupy Oakland demonstrators.
Today, however, Scott Olsen cannot speak at all. Shot in the forehead with a "non-lethal" police projectile, he is in an Oakland hospital for treatment of a skull fracture. "He cannot talk , and that is because the fracture is right on the speech center of his brain," said Keith Shannon, a friend who served beside him in Iraq.
And so in exercising a right he fought for, he has lost the power to exercise it again because of a single act of police brutality. There have been many such acts since the Occupy movement grew beyond anyone's expectations. It is a symptom of our national malaise that this is the normal response to spontaneous mass expressions of citizen dissent. When the "dissent" is manufactured, funded by Koch Brothers filthy lucre, it is tolerated even if its lemmings carry fire arms into public political meetings. Go figure.
The 92-year-old icon of modern American citizen action, Pete Seger, gave Occupy his imprimatur earlier this week, hobbling into Liberty Plaza in New York with the aid of two canes and the folk singer Arlo Guthrie, Woody's son. There's no way of counting the number of times Pete and Arlo have sung Woody's "This Land is Our Land, This Land is Your Land. . .," a hymn to the oppressed workers, farmers and foreclosed of the United States. The song tells us what the union movement was about, what the civil rights movement was about, what the anti-war movements were about, and what Occupy is about.
It's about the common man, made stronger by coming together in public places, demanding to take back his "Land" and all of the rights it confers upon its citizens, including the right that was violently taken away from Scott Olsen.
Each time the common man rallies to regain his rights, he faces bigger odds, stronger forces of repression, angrier backlash from the privileged few who have put him down. Somehow he rises again and again and again -- whether in Europe, Asia, the Antipodes, Africa, South America or the former United States of America.
If Scott Olsen is unable to return to the public squares, ten more will rise to take his place, to demand justice in his name.
Perhaps, even as their numbers grow, they will not succeed. Money, Bill Moyers once wrote, fights hard. And it fights dirty.
Bullets to the forehead, even "non-lethal" ones, are dirty fighting. Koch money can buy lots of bullets, and buy off lots of bullies to use them on common folk exercising their rights to assembly, redress and free speech.
Whose land is it? The one per cent? Or the 99 per cent?
Pete and Arlo know. Scott Olsen thought he knew, too.