The 61 Senators to Recall. Can Occupy Lead?
Occupy Wall Street is being forced to grow up. Gone are the commenters and bloggers who are against the issuing of clear demands because this "acknowledges a thoroughly corrupt system." Who say we must "create a participatory democracy" from scratch. Guess what? The major spaces from which to create the "new world" which is "possible" are dwindling. OWS is getting pushed out of park after park in a coordinated assault, and the problem is, at the end of the day, most people still don't know what we wanted.
It's not that efforts are not being made to hammer together clear demands, but it needs to be going faster. Russell Means, the Indian activist whose biography I have been reading (and it is an amazing read) was the expert in translating symbolic actions into concrete results. When Means and the American Indian Movement (AIM) took over, i.e. occupied, Wounded Knee in 1973, he did not go to say "we really just want everyone to get along."
Learning from Rosa Parks, AIM made headlines around the world by striving to be concise and limited in their demands, at least at first. At Wounded Knee AIM demanded that the Ft. Laramie Treaty be honored, which gave the media plenty of grist to dig into. Few people had ever heard of the Ft. Laramie Treaty, but once they did, they would know that it had never been repealed, that it carried the force of law, and that much of the land that the Indians claimed was actually, legally theirs. After AIM had placed itself on the map with symbolic actions, their next actions had more direct impact in peoples' lives. At a time when Native Americans in Midwestern reservations were getting beaten and even killed practically for sport, by whites, with little consequence, Means and AIM showed up at court houses to demand that there would be justice.
It's a different day now, but it would be easy to get the impression that the world had simply evolved and, although hate crimes by rednecks still crop up, as with Mathew Shepard, it is not with the same utter impunity, frequency, and confidence that punishment will never, ever be a result. The world didn't just evolve. It was a long, hard struggle for which Means and his brothers were beaten, shot, stabbed, and imprisoned many times, with the cost of justice measured in broken noses and teeth, and eyes swollen shut. Sometimes it may be easy to forget that human nature did not simply improve to allow Blacks at any lunch counter. People were shot, beaten, and murdered before the struggle was over.
But Means achieved many of his goals, and understood that media attention was only good if, when people read why you were there, it resonated with a basic justness of cause. As with Occupy Wall Street, the media tried to portray AIM as an out of control savage mob, playing, even a hundred years later, into centuries old stereotypes of Indians. Means knew that he must win the media battle, the "battle for hearts and minds" as it were, because he was under no illusions that he was not ultimately outgunned.
By gathering more and more support for demands so carefully tailored and expressed that even those against his methods could not argue with them, AIM was assured of support from ever-increasing quarters, as Marlon Brando, famed attorney Bill Kunstler, numerous Hollywood and political figures, and invisible benefactors came to the conclusion, perhaps reluctantly, that "I don't know who these characters are, but what's right is right."
Over the course of his activist career Means was shot twice, stabbed once, imprisoned, and beaten to the point of hospitalization too many times to count. Both hated and loved, it may be fair to say that never did anyone live so much to improve the lives of his people. In his early youth Means was a hell-raiser going nowhere fast. Then, as he is ever thankful, he was granted by the "Great Mystery" the ultimate fulfillment of discovering what he had been born for.
One major news outlet, NPR, finally reported that the National Defense Authorization Act to be voted on tomorrow contains provisions for the "military detention of American citizens suspected of involvement in terrorism." NPR's Facebook and fundraising campaign may have felt the wrath of the blogosphere's amazement that the most radical loss of fundamental rights since the founding of the republic was being met with utter, deafening silence by the media. The seriousness of this possibly final assault on the Constitution and the rights declared "inalienable" by the Founders is emphasized by Senior Legislative Counsel for the Washington, DC, office of the ACLU:
"Don’t be confused by anyone claiming that the indefinite detention legislation does not apply to American citizens. It does. There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1013 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens."
Today a motion for cloture passed by 88 to 12, setting up the vote for tomorrow. Voting to keep the abomination from advancing a step further in its tracks, interestingly, mostly Repubicans, except for Merkely and Wyden: Burr (R-NC), Coburn (R-OK), Cornyn (R-TX), Crapo (R-ID), DeMint (R-SC), Grassley (R-IA), Lee (R-UT), Paul (R-KY), Risch (R-ID), Rubio (R-FL).
This may be the result of the Tea Party's ferocious response to the legislation burning up the Internet, after the news went viral earlier this week.
Still, except for NPR, no major news media.
Evidence that the senators know they are dealing with political dynamite is Republican Congressman Justin Amash's admission to the The Grand Rapids Press that the S. 1867 National Defense Authorization Act's military detention provisions are “carefully crafted to mislead the public.”
But we do not need even this. We only need Sen. Lindsey Graham's words on the Senate floor that:
“1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”
Most chilling of all is that the Washington Post has confirmed that:
"The military's Joint Special Operations Command maintains a target list that includes several Americans...U.S. officials have said that the government is prepared to kill U.S. citizens who are believed to be involved in terrorist activities that threaten Americans."
The list is secret, and so there is no way to determine who is on it, or presumably, who is no longer because they have already been killed. If Americans do not see this as a recipe for mischief, they are not Americans any longer.
If the senators succeed in establishing the U.S. as the "battlefield, if S. 1867 passes the Senate vote tomorrow in the late afternoon, the place where JSOC can carry out its assassinations becomes everywhere, including your bedroom while you sleep.
Graham's treasonous words were uttered before the gentleman colleagues without a whimper of outrage, without a cry of "unconstitutional!" or "treason!" from the Senate floor, as if the utter revocation of the Bill of Rights were not in progress before their very eyes. The amendment to strip the offending language from the NDAA failed, 37- 61.
Occupy Wall Street needs to connect itself with something, as Means would have done, to something which is just plain right. The cause must be just, and speak to the outrage of all Americans, not just left, not just right. My dream is to see OWS occupy the Washington and district offices of the "61 senators." Whichever one of them votes yes on this tomorrow should be recalled for even thinking about it.
Beneath the beautiful suits and the coiffed, silver hair, beneath the smiles and bonhomie, the daggers are being drawn. The target is squarely the back of the American people.
NAYs ---61 (Occupy their front yards with all-night drum circles.)
Grassley (R-IA) Hagan (D-NC)