I hold this truth to be self-evident: Most of us will never find ourselves on the business end of an Islamic radical. Many of us, however, will struggle to stay housed and fed if we’re too old to work, or we fall seriously ill. “National defense” that focuses on cartoon figures of ethnic menace, as opposed to the prosaic and preventable disasters that cause most of the actual suffering and death in this country, is a cruel joke, and I suspect its extremely dark humor is not entirely lost on heartless neo-feudalist chatterboxes like Lieberman and Coburn.
There were a lot of stories after 9/11, about how people who had previously thought they were safe now felt unsafe. I wanted to find everyone thus quoted and drag them down to where I worked, to where people needed no crash course in coping, to where people didn’t suddenly feel unsafe because they had no feeling of safety to lose. We have built any feeling of safety we have on the backs of people like that, and presumed they shared our feelings of entitlement and security. Why should they, when we share none of their pain?
What happens in Wisconsin isn’t just in Wisconsin. I have this tattooed on my arm now, no shit: Our fate is your fate. People are threatened, right now. People are scared, right now. What kind of world are we building? What kind of place are we living in? Before, in the Bush years, I felt like there was a genuine schism, between the kind of country Americans thought they had and the kind of country America was.
Now, watching Walker and Kasich and Scott, watching the Austerity Olympics, watching Obama running scared from every Teabagger he sees, getting the pointy end of smug Republican soliloquys about spending on programs most of them are in no danger of needing, I feel like most people know what kind of country we are. They know we’re mean and paralyzed and small. They know we’ve talked ourselves into being unable to move, and either they can’t see how we can get out of it, or they don’t care if we ever do.
This is how it works: You start out just not doing one thing because it’s too hard, and pretty soon you can’t do anything. We are a country that cannot button our shirt in the morning because we actually cannot conceive of the process by which we would do that, no matter how many shots of brandy we take to steady our nerves. And into that steps a group of people that says, no more. That says yes, we know how things like this are supposed to work, and we’re supposed to lie back and take it, and fuck that basically because no fuck no not today not while I’m alive this is just not how it’s going to go and the way I know that is that I’m going to make it go otherwise and sit DOWN, asshole, I’m here now and your turn is over.
Into this national paralysis, into this world in which the one thing we cannot do is the only thing we really have to do, walked tens of thousands. On bikes and in cabs and on tractors and on foot, from sunrise to sunset, saying shove your war on America. Saying we are not going to be like this anymore.
They could have stayed home and written hectoring opinion pieces about how Americans and particularly kids today are just lazy and can’t ever protest like the Egyptians or Greeks. There’s quite the market for that these days. Instead of lecturing other people about how to stand up to power, they went out there and did it.
That needs to win right now. That needs to show, right now, to everybody who’s threatened and scared by everyday, ordinary, animal greed that there is more than one way for things to go. That just because some knob in a suit on TV says we can’t, we can’t, we can’t doesn’t make it so. That inevitable’s just a dare. That there’s never too little time or energy to help others. That courage isn’t a bowl of sugar with a bottom you can hit. That all actions are choices, and all choices are chances, and all you have to do is make them and the ground beneath your feet will shake.
That we don’t back down. We don’t back off. We don’t back up.
Not. One. Inch.
x-posted to First Draft