07 October 2011

#OccupyWallSt: What I Saw, What I See

I caught wind of the #OccupyWallSt protest in some abstract internet channel a few weeks ago. I remember thinking, "Hm, is this another psychotic right wing thing?" Some thing suggested the protesters were men and women after my own heart but with the majority of the noise these days being made by the Tea Party I assumed the worst and forgot about it.

The other night I caught an excerpt of this video on the news playing in a bar after the Yankees game. This combined with the macing convinced me that I needed to contribute. Politics be damned, freedom of speech and assembly comes first.

It's just a bonus that I espouse the overall theme of this movement, which, despite reports to the contrary, is quite clear: an unregulated, unaccountable financial and corporate universe is no longer welcome in America.

Of course, there are many other things going on here and while "distracting" it's about time someone made some noise. I saw a great number of signs and stickers against "fracking" the ecologically decrepit method of extracting natural gas by injecting sand, water and chemicals into layers of rocks. There were gay rights banners. Support for teachers, students and universities and as of today organized labor.

It was a bastion of fervent liberalism in what has seemed to be a vacuum of far right denialism. It was glorious. It is also terrifying. Terrifying that it has come to this. Thanks to "Citizens United" and five out of nine Supreme Court Justices it has become apparent that voting and corresponding with elected officials no longer gets anything accomplished. After all, why read an email from a constituent when you can just read numbers on a big corporate check.  The Tea Party had also somehow convinced us that taxes on billionaires who pay none and also aren't using their money to hire people is a bad idea. 

Thankfully, the left woke up. Okay, so there is not a single leader, no bullet list of demands, and most of the "Wall Street" banks are actually in midtown but the intentions are pretty clear. Wall Street is a metaphor for out of control financial and corporate universe. The taxpayer funded bailouts meant nothing to them; they blew them on bonuses. Politicians and judges are helping them fix their cash funnels directly to other politicians and judges ears while simultaneously depriving their employees the right to organize to speak using words instead of green backs.

Well, thankfully, we went ahead and organized anyway. This is what the real first amendment looks like; This is what democracy looks like.

More than anything else, this has reminded me that there is a committed left in this country. Something I am very proud of not just because I am left handed. Maybe the protest itself will not solve the problems but I do believe it will energize people to harass their dollar-bill blind folded representatives and convince the politicians who already to listen to fight harder against the right. I will continue protesting and I will also be writing, emailing and calling. You should too.

Oh, right, this is a literature blog and since I'm sure you cannot single out the famous poets and professors who were there from any of these pictures I'll close with a quote:

I think it better that in times like these
A poet's mouth be silent, for in truth
We have no gift to set a statesman right;

-WB Yeats "On Being Asked for a War Poem"

Poetry should be silent, the poet should be silent: a citizen more than an artist.

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