Monday, November 21, 2011

Can’t we do better than this?

John Cole at BalloonJuice asked that question, in a post regarding the violence at UC Davis:

Which leads me to what bothers me the most, which is the failure of leadership in every institution in this country. Can’t we do better than this? Can’t we do better than pay 400k to someone who doesn’t have an instinctive gut rejection of the idea of macing a bunch of kids sitting on a sidewalk. Can’t we do better than that? Shouldn’t we be able with that kind of money and benefits and perks to find someone who would immediately recoil at the thought of sending riot police with batons and chemical weapons to go thump the kids paying 35,000 a year for the privilege to sit in that public space? Can’t we find people whose immediate response to everything is not the application of force and a reliance on police brutality? Are we really this lost as a nation that our academic institutions are run by sociopaths with no problem solving skills? It’s just fucking amazing, whether it be UC Davis or Penn State or Wall Street or the Catholic Church or, well, wherever.

I like BalloonJuice and I think Cole is a really good writer, but...

Maybe there's an age difference or maybe some different choices in reading American history between us, but the tone is one of offense taken to a violation of an accepted standard that I don't see as having existed except theoretically. I do understand that if you stay within the bounds of what the establishment finds acceptable in belief or values you should be fine. You won't have done a damn thing to better the system, but you won't get pepper sprayed in your Teabagger costume of 'Ladyliberty.' It was quite well understood by the cops and their directors that the Teabaggers were the GOP and quite within the bounds of belief that the plutocratic state approves. The same cannot be said for OWS, it is a direct assault on that plutocratic state.

It has been said that history is just the story the victors tell. That was much more true of periods when literacy was uncommon than it has been from the time literacy was fairly common - at least for something other than "popular" history. The actuallity of the history of anti-establishment movements and protest in this nation is that they've been met with state approved violence with numbing consistency. On occassion this violence has backfired by engaging the general populace in matters that 'were not their concern.' (see Civil Rights or Labor) At those times, as today, most media was complicit in demonizing the protesters and scoffing at their cause.

No John, we're not better than this; this is what we do and what we have done from the time Declaration of Independence signers were still holding office. I am scarcely suggesting that we shouldn't do better - I just want it understood that this establishment protection behavior is deeply engrained and it involves one hell of a fight to do something about it and the natural tendencies of police too ... well act like ... police.

(in case anyone think I'm bashing John as ignorant - I think the failing is more one of POV, he wants to trust our establishment and I flatly do not. I think history is on my side. The civics lesson of the run up to and process of the Revolutionary War was quickly forgotten by a hell of a lot of the leaders - the Establishment protects itself whether it be George V or Citibank.)

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