Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Phillis Bennis scoffed at us

I was invited to a meeting of this group on February 10th:

Noam Chomsky and Phillis Bennis spoke (and left... they're rock stars). We exchanged email addresses and ideas, and passed around a bucket for donations. I met these amazing Somali women, who I want to follow up with, and now I am part of an email circle of about 20 + local progressives. Four hours of my valuable time spent in hopes of "doing something" (!)

Phillis Bennis, who I admire, annoyed me. She asked the group of about 250 how many had marched in protest February 16, 2003 before the invasion of Iraq. I was impressed by how many hands went up (about half), but she scoffed, "Oh, I would expect to see many more." Scoffed. Nice. Did she ask why any one of us didn't make it? Did she ask anyone to volunteer what they had done instead? Nope. Way to encourage people with positive reinforcement!

I had small children in 2003 (they are big enough to march themselves, now) and I was sick on top of it. I get sick often, which is probably why I am so sympathetic to the plights of others. But I didn't do nothing. For weeks before and after the protests, because those were the days before YouTube, and I wasn't tech saavy enough to know how to post videos anywhere else, I was taping HER and others speaking on FreeSpeech TV: Why the war war wrong, why you won't get the the truth about it from the press, etc. I made copy after copy on VHS and mailed them to everyone I knew who didn't yet "know". Then I would call them and bug them. "Did you watch the tape? Please watch it, just once!" "You won't get the truth from the main stream media!" (Which was packed wall to wall with generals and WoMD "experts"). So I couldn't get out and march, but I didn't sit and do nothing! I did what I could, and I did it with every spare moment I had. I didn't go to play dates or "do lunch" or go shopping. I made and mailed tapes. What I wanted to know was: What did those other non-hand raisers do? Something worthwhile, I'll bet. But for Phyllis, if your aren't marching on the street, you deserve to be scoffed at? Because marching made such a big differnce on our Iraq policy? Appealing to our "leaders" by marching in protest doesn't seem to be doing much, so why do we keep falling back on that?

Jason, my husband, also scoffed, calling Phillis a "gate keeper". You might think not, since she is not in the mass media much, but she is much admired in the left of politics. If her message is, "If you're not marching, you don't matter" then that is what her adherents will abide by, right? Marching takes lots of time and energy, keeps folks busy. And what happens? "Our" troops invade anyway, our banks get our tax dollars to pay their bonuses, health care gets "reformed" into an institutionalized hand out for the insurance companies, whose raping of us is what lead to the health care crisis to begin with. Marching doesn't seem to work, but it sure keeps us too busy to figure out something that will.

I think the overlords of this country delight in reporting to us the chaos and the blood shed in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria, because even most of the left want no such thing happening here. We admire the Egyptians, but lets face it, life is so much grimmer there than here, so they have far less to lose. We don't want to destroy what we already have, which is a lot. So keep marching peacefully US citenzens, and see what little good it does you, or see the time and energy it takes, much sound and fury over nothing, and choose to stay home instead...

Can you imagine living in the streets for 17 days? You would have to be unemployed, right? You would be cold. (Even in Egypt it gets cold this time of year, but where I live? Imagine that!) Dirty, hungry. I find the protests pretty discouraging, actually, because just to get a sideways shift, Mubarak for military rule, people had to last 17 days, and many of them had to die, and many, many more were beaten. We aren't going to do that. Yet short of a strike, a general strike, that shuts eveything down and makes everyone miserable, what is going to make an impact on the fascists who keep handing our tax money over to banks, and insurance companies, and war contracters, and petroleum companies...?

So, marching doesn't do much in this country, the press spins it as a parade of crazed malcontents (if they cover it at all!), and the overlords do as they please in spite of it. But if you don't march in protest, what *do* you do, and are your efforts any less valuable? And if marching is the answer, how far are you willing to take it? As far as Egypt? ...Me neither.

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