The Jefferson Tree - A platform for debate and discussion of current events and politics...

Social Protest Lit: Ebenezer Elliot, “The People’s Anthem”

A poem from Ebenezer Elliot entitled The People’s Anthem from Book IV called “Out of The Depths.” This chapter is focused on man’s pursuit of remedy for social injustice: When wilt thou save the people? O God of mercy! when? Not kings and lords, but nations! Flowers of the heart, O God, are they! Let them not pass, like weeds, away! Their heritage a sunless day! God save the people! Shall bring crime for ever, Strength aiding still the strong? Is it thy will, O Father? That man shall toil for wrong? “No!” ...

Stephen Moore’s Ridiculous Anti-Clean Energy Rant

Hard right-winger Stephen Moore took a break from pushing debunked trickle-down economic policies to take a pathetic shot at clean energy.  Let the stupid begin. …radical Greens, one of the most influential political forces in America today… Seriously?  He goes on to mention the famed Sierra Club as one of these forces.  And where did they rank in 2013 on lobbying: 755.  In fact, if we look at the top 50 interest groups giving to members of Congress this year, no sign ...

Anti-Israel Policies/Actions Is Not Anti-Semitsim

There have been growing protests in Europe against the mass murder of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by the State of Israel. These actions are in response to the IDF killing 500 Muslims there with the vast majority of them being civilians. But what is troubling about these movements is, according to this article in the NYT, an anti-Semitic tinge has taken place at these protests. The story reads that in France: Several recent pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Paris have boiled over ...

Warren For President?

Today at the the annual Netroots Nation conference in Detroit, the nation’s largest gathering of liberal activists and organizers, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) reportedly drew an applause that Hillary could only dream of. According to NYT and Politico reports, Warren was a rock-star while Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic candidate for President, was absent. Warren’s populist talking points and her history of taking Wall Street to task (remember that Warren was an early advocate for the creation of a new Consumer Financial ...

Social Protest Literatue at Sparking The Left

Here at STL we are starting a new feature. In between our political-insight posts, I will start publishing excerpts or entire pieces of great literature that speak to crucial social and political issues which span the centuries. Though almost all in the Western tradition, the subject matters are transcendental. Now first to name my source, I am taking pieces from Upton Sinclair’s selected and edited collection “The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Great Social Protest Literature of All Time.” ...

Pulitzer-Winning Journalist Detained for Being Undocumented

I was first brought aware of Jose Antonio Vargas’ story last week in a piece he penned in Politico. He explained that he was in the Rio Grande Valley, in the city of McAllen, just north of the Mexican border. He was there to see first hand the tens of thousands of undocumented children, most of them from Central America, and observe how they were being treated. The trip was also used for a news conference appearance and vigil organized by United We Dream, ...

GOP Refuses Funding for Border Children Projects

A humanitarian crisis unseen before at our borders is becoming more and more urgent everyday at Rio Grande Valley, TX, and other Southwest locations. And yet the GOP is arguing over numbers. Yesterday President Obama requested an amount of $3.7 billion from Congress to help aid the 57,000 unaccompanied minors who illegally crossed the border from the Mexico side since October. They are mostly from violence-ridden Central American countries, like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (Honduras has the world’s highest murder ...

Problems galore for the new government headed by Mr. Narendra Modi in New Delhi – Imperative for the first time PM and his council of ministers in governance amidst multiple challenges

The phenomenal victory for Mr. Narendra Modi and his party (the BJP) in May 2014 general elections has not only drawn the adulation of people world over but also silenced all its die hard critics at home and abroad. It was so stupendous and stunning that even the American government and its top leaders across party lines acknowledged Mr. Modi as the emerging democratic leader of the world, setting aside their past antagonism as an error of judgment, not based ...

Why Are We So Full Of Hate?

What has happened to human kind?  No matter where you look we find ourselves surrounded by a world filled with hate. What puzzles me is how it's combined with political correctness.  Take this country where so many words are now frowned upon and even forbidden because they are hurtful to certain people.  Redskins, squaw, savage plus a whole lot applying to blacks, orientals and hispanics not to mention middle easterners.  Has it dawned on anyone banning the names has done nothing ...

Has Putin Over Reached Once Too Often?

My, oh my.  We've watched this man make mince meat of Obama over the past several years.  Each time you could see the smirk broaden and the swagger get more pronounced. He and his allies - Iran, China, Syria and North Korea were truly enjoying themselves. But as happens with a lot of bullies, they get over confident and suddenly everything around them collapses. I'm wondering if this is the case with the downing of the Malaysian passenger jet. With the death ...

If Only It WERE The Heat!

What a day.  A passenger plane has been shot down over Ukraine uncomfortably close to the Russian border. Hamas reneged on the humanitarian cease fire so Israel launched their ground offensive. Children still pour across the border while Congress dithers. It's now being reported parents are giving them birth control in case they are raped during the journey. Along that line former member of Congress, Todd Aiken, who once talked about legitimate rape and the idea that women's bodies protected them from becoming ...

Hannity's Histrionics

For a person who doesn't have much faith in the intellect of pundits, I wonder why I watch them so often.  I wonder even more why the cable outlets and networks that employ them don't take more care in who they hire. Many of them get on crusades that bear no resemblance to reality.  Sean Hannity is one of the most prominent. The night before last  he was on his Bowe Bergdahl kick demanding to know why he was returned to ...

Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words?

If the President could run away from the border mess any faster I'm sure he would. It's being said it's because being seen in the setting of kids crammed into confined spaces with their scabies and lice would reflect badly on him.  It could even be his Katrina.  Well, maybe.  But who's fault is that? It goes to show his handlers aren't as smart as they think they are.  For one, drinking beer and shooting pool in Colorado, a state where ...

The Kids Always Went Home

Watching the immigration mess going full bore brought to mind a lot of things that have involved children from other nations.  The first thing that comes to mind is the Disney song It's a Small World After All that speaks to all we have in common. Hopes, dreams, all the warm fuzzy stuff. We've had exchange student programs where a student from another country lives with a local family to learn not only academics but what life in American and Americans ...

The Militia Is Coming, The Militia Is Coming!

That's all we need! News has it a call has gone out for militia, both unarmed and armed, to gather along the border to help private land owners protect their property in something called Operation Save Our Borders.  Terrific! Remember how well it went when militia turned out to help to  help Cliven Bundy in his fight over Federal grazing rights in Nevada?  It came within a hair's breadth of turning violent. I really feel for the border towns who are the ...

Will Cheney Help Or Hurt The Republicans In The Mid-Terms?

Will the re-emergence of Dick Cheney help or hurt the Republicans in the mid-terms?  There is so much going on about which voters are rightfully incensed my guess he will have little impact. I think it depends, however, on what happens in the middle east over the next couple of months. Those who believe it wouldn't be in the mess it is if it weren't for the Bush/Cheney policies and rush to war will be reminded of just that - the ...

It is a great importance to set a resolution, not to be shaken, never to tell an untruth. There is no vice so mean, so pitiful, so contemptible and he who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual, he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world's believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all it's good dispositions. Thomas Jefferson
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OccupyWallSt

Reports of Occupy’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

via Ben Vitelli, Occupy Baton Rouge:

Occupy Reaper

People can’t seem to stop eulogizing the Occupy Movement.

Since the eviction of the protestors at Freedom Plaza last November, it’s become a media cliché to report on the “Death of Occupy.” Articles pop up all over the web, blithely reporting on the failed second wind of Occupy, this lackluster “American Spring,” and the May Day general strike that didn’t quite shut the system down.

It should be no surprise that the mainstream media is eager to report on Occupy’s supposed demise. Even ignoring the fact that the corporate-owned media has a strong desire to never see social movements such as Occupy succeed, the media, as a rule, generally needs to put a dramatic narrative to everything it reports. To them, every story ought to have a captivating story arch with a beginning, middle, and an end.

In the media’s eyes, the story that was Occupy began when the magazine Adbusters put out a call to Occupy Wall Street on September 17. Many people heeded the call, yet, according to the media’s story, the movement only received its dramatic momentum when cops were photographed attacking and pepper-spraying the nonviolent protestors. It reached its early demise when the police violently cleared out the various encampments. Now, except for a few curmudgeons who can’t seem to understand that Occupy is over, all that remains of Occupy is its populist rhetoric of the 99%—which has been dutifully hawked up by Democratic front-groups such as MoveOn.org to help refuel the Obama election machine.

This popular narrative of Occupy, with its clear-cut beginning, middle, and end, has been so successful that even those who are still active within the Occupy movement can’t help but absorb parts of it. Lately, many General Assemblies sometimes border on something closely resembling a public support group. On the internet, vaguely self-congratulatory Paul Krugman-y articles, applauding Occupy for “at least shifting the public dialogue,” are posted and reposted to different Occupy-related Facebook groups to remind each other that Occupy at least had a little bit of an effect.

All that’s left for Occupy to do, then, is to sit around, waiting for the Next Big Protest–where peaceful protestors will, again, be filmed brutalized by all-too-eager to attack police officers. And then, after that, to hold their nose and vote in November, hoping that after Obama is reelected and, once again, dashes away all of his campaign promises about Hope and Change, people will remember that passively investing their hopes in politicians is a death sentence. Then they’ll take to the streets again, starting the process all over.

In the United States, we tend to view history as something other people (usually white, upper class men) did long ago, not something we all actively participate in on a day to day basis. In school textbooks, we were taught that the American Revolution was the accomplishment of a few incredibly enlightened, well-educated men. We forget that it took hundreds of thousands of people—especially young people, women, and working class men–to support and spread the ideas of democracy throughout the colonies.

The problem with how we view Occupy, then, is very similar. We tend to see Occupy as a spectacle taking place at a distance by people very unlike ourselves. Brutal police officers and their photogenic victims, Occupy-friendly celebrities and artists, black block style anarchists, and our cities’ despotic mayors are the characters in this drama who elaborately battle it out for headlines on the stage of our trash-strewn cities. Like most stories we find captivating as Americans, Occupy has become a newspaper story of violence, celebrity and corruption.

By accepting this view of Occupy, we accept at face value much of what Occupy fought against. This popular narrative of Occupy teaches us that only through violence (whether by smashing a window of a Starbucks or by getting smashed in the face by a cop on a rampage) will we bring attention to our cause—preferably the attention of trend-setting celebrities or some not-entirely-out-of-touch politician.

The true magic of Occupy was that it rejected all of these things. No one had any more power than anyone else at the General Assemblies or in the encampments. At the beginning, nobody in Occupy really cared that we were ignored by the mainstream media. We don’t need a bunch of hacks at Time Magazine to commend us for our ability to protest. The only reason we received such a burst of tepidly-favorable attention from the mainstream media and their star politicians, anyways, was because they sensed a loss of legitimacy if they continued to ignore us. And, besides, the goal was never to get them to take a step back and view what their out-of-touch policies have done to the rest of us in the first place. The parasitic 1% couldn’t care less what happens to the rest of us, so long as we don’t openly revolt.

The goal of Occupy was to get together as a community of equals, to claim a future different than the ones they gave us, and to reignite a tradition of democratic progress that reaches back far into our history. The goals of the slowly evolving Occupy movement were something of an experiment. It was a way of exploring new ways of interacting with others. Of showing each other that we can do very fine without the 1%, thank you very much.

Shrugging off Occupy as a momentary fad or a leftist pipedream is to do a disservice to both Occupy and our collective yearning for a more legitimate community. When Occupy began, there was a feeling in the air that another world was not only possible, but that it was possibly inevitable. Our isolation and alienation no longer seemed like an unbridgeable gap:

“Separations are broken down. Personal problems are transformed into public issues; public issues that seemed distant and abstract become immediate practical matters. The old order is analyzed, criticized, satirized. People learn more about society in a week than in years of academic “social studies” or leftist “consciousness raising.” Long repressed experiences are revived. Everything seems possible — and much more is possible. People can hardly believe what they used to put up with in “the old days.” (Ken Knabb, The Joy of Revolution)

Since those days, over 7,200 Occupy protestors have been arrested in the United States. Many have been beaten and tortured. The media has been strong-armed into not reporting on Occupy except in an unfavorable light, and non-participants (but potential sympathizers) are encouraged to sarcastically roll their eyes at those silly protestors who just don’t seem to get it. In light of all this demoralization, Occupy protestors are left wondering what it was all about, grasping at easy explanations for their continued movement such as “shifting the national dialogue” or hoping that this next week’s protest might suddenly convince the powers that be to change their corrupt ways.

While I’m certainly happy that the “national dialogue” has “shifted” (I no longer feel like a crazy person babbling away about economic injustice) [*editors note: we support "crazy people" speaking out about economic injustice*] celebrating the fact that Obama now has to pretend to give a shit and Romney must now pretend to be human is an incredibly hopeless prospect. This “national dialogue” we speak about is not something that happens when we reach critical mass and the media and the politicians can no longer afford to ignore us. It’s a continued conversation that reverberates among the masses. It’s a process of teaching one another, of questioning the status quo and debating the proper course of action—it’s the sound of agreements and disagreements among individuals who view each other as human beings. It’s the sound of people sharing their visions of a better society and realizing their common goals.

It needs to be remembered that the word “occupy” is a verb. It’s a call to action, not the action itself. The word “occupy” was useful for getting individuals and organizations previously isolated or focused on one-issue grievances out into the streets. Whether the individuals involved wanted to merely overturn Citizens United or overthrow the entire capitalist system itself, Occupy was the first all-encompassing protest movement to occur within many of our lifetimes. Whether or not the word “Occupy” continues to be the word to describe this movement is not important. What is important is that there’s wide community of opposition being formed across many social barriers, and those who hold power are very afraid.

OccupyWallSt

Author: OccupyWallSt

Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #ows is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.

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