Sunday, December 11, 2011

I Protest, Therefore I Am

The web site Buzzfeed has posted pictures of some of the best protest signs of the year. They are creative, funny, inspiring. I enjoyed reading them immensely and encourage you to take a look. I put one here; the guy holding it happens to be one of my favorite intellectuals, Princeton Professor Cornel West, who I think understands America better than anyone.

The signs are from the uprising in Wisconsin, the Arab Spring revolutions, the Indignados (the Indignants) in Spain, the student movement in Chile, the Occupy Movement, and other protests during the year. Some of the best are counter-protests to those religious right wing wackos who hold up signs saying "God hates fags," often at the funerals of our soldiers killed in the Middle East.

There are protests everywhere now, all the time, on every continent, and even in Russia now, where after questionable elections this past week the largest protests since the fall of the Soviet Union are underway. A year ago it was business as usual. There was a continual, low rumble of complaints about inequity, and then everything changed.

It may be especially visible to me, owing to the media I keep track of, which is keeping track of all of it, but it creeps more and more into the headlines, where it's even being debated whether or not the protest movement has changed the terms of the debate. It's difficult to argue that it has not. It's like nothing I have ever experienced. I've spent my adult life wondering why Americans never stood up for themselves. It's exhilarating to see it finally happen. It brings tear to my eyes sometimes.

It all can be traced back to the uprising in Tunisia, just a year ago now, but as some point out, that uprising can be traced back to the heroic actions of a brave US Army Private First Class, Bradley Manning, the alleged leaker of tens of thousands of US government documents that demonstrated the underhandedness, the cynicism, the double dealing, the lying our government commits on behalf of US Capitalism.
Some of those documents, which are still gradually being released by WikiLeaks, had to do with US government knowledge and appeasement of massive state corruption in Tunisia. Their release caused outrage in Tunisia, and it was directly after the leak of those documents that the Tunisian uprising broke out. From there it spread to Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Libya, where they were also reading leaked documents, and finally reached the US and the rest of the world.

Recall that the first things leaked were videos of US pilots killing what they knew to be Iraqi civilians from the air, and joking around about it. Those were but a portend of the dirty secrets our government was hiding, and it was the moral duty, indeed, the patriotic obligation, to, once knowing of the corruption that infuses all levels of our government and military establishment, to make sure that truth was known to the American people, no matter the personal sacrifice.

 PFC Bradley Manning still sits in the brig at Fort Leavenworth, MO. He has not yet been charged with anything, after more than a year in military prisons, much of it under harsh conditions and in solitary confinement. It is widely believed the Obama Administration is attempting to break him psychologically so he'll turn on Julian Assange of Wikileaks. We owe Bradley our gratitude and support. He's the patriot.

Please visit the Bradley Manning Support Network web site and bring yourself up to date on his case. He has some good people and some good lawyers behind him, and the more the better.


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