Universal Translator

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Up Side of Police Brutality

So Occupy Wall Street had a massive march last night – 15,000 to 20,000 people – that apparently featured a good deal of police violence.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but that is probably a good thing – for Occupy Wall Street.

As I’ve mentioned before, “OWS started attracting national attention because some animals in the NYPD decided to mace a couple of women and got caught on video doing it.”  Right now OWS has captured the nation’s attention, and the NYPD’s abuse of protesters only makes the movement more sympathetic.

It seems cruel to say this, but if The Powers That Be continue to react to peaceful protests against the existing pluto-/corporatocracy in this way, and the movement itself remains defiant but non-violent, then its continuing success is almost assured.

I’ll leave you with a passage from Hamden Rice’s magnificent and moving essay, “Most of You Have No Idea What Martin Luther King Actually Did”:

They told us:  -- whatever you are most afraid of doing vis a vis white people, go do it.


And you know what?  The worst of the worst wasn’t that bad.

Once people had been beaten, had dogs sicced on them, had fire hoses sprayed on them, and been thrown in jail, you know what happened?

These magnificent young black people began singing freedom songs in jail.

That, my friends, is what ended the terrorism of the South.  Confronting your worst fears, living through it, and breaking out in a deep throated freedom song.  The jailers knew they had lost when they beat the crap out of these young Negroes and the jailed, beaten young people began to sing joyously, first in one town and then in another.  This is what the writer James Baldwin captured like no other writer of the era.

Please let this sink in.  It wasn’t marches or speeches.  It was taking a severe beating, surviving, and realizing that our fears were mostly illusory and that we were free.

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