Not So General Strike Report

IMG_1464_small.jpg I had said I would and so I did set out to Union Square after voting early in the morning. You can see that I chose to wear a red shirt. The plan publicized was for people to wear red, white, or blue shirts.

We got to Union Square a little before noon and found no one else there. IMG_1467_small.jpg Since we had said we would be there, we set up our chairs. Though the photographs do not suggest it, the weather was most inclement; it had rained earlier in the morning and there was a cold wind. It is never convenient and often not comfortable to stand up for my country. This time it was neither, but I would not have missed this opportunity to prove to myself if to no one else that I am committed to the Constitution.

We planted our chairs and sat. The small white object visible in the empty chairs is a copy of the US Constitution. Each of us brought one and we did read it and the first ten amendments.

The photograph below emphasizes the empty square. The red in the background is my shirt.

After a number of hours there, George suggested we turn our sitin into a march, so we gathered up our things and walked to Grand Central where we got on the subway.

As we sat that cold day on Union Square, I reflected on a notable French literary figure who was the only person to attend an early meeting of the French Academy. He signed the book and thus the meeting was official and the fledgling academy did not die. I don’t know if our being present at Union Square means that our democracy will not die. I do know we were faithful to our commitment.

I bought two cups of coffee from a local vendor to help warm us up, the only money I spent all day. If others in the country curtailed their spending, I saw no evidence of it. In fact, I saw no evidence of anyone’s taking up the challenge but the two of us, though I know that another who had been in our discussion group participated in the strike in another way. I wonder what happened to the people who had put up the website. Not a one of them was there.

We who had met to discuss things some weeks before had committed to various ways of striking, from actually sitting on the square to staying home and not spending. George is not willing to come out again on December 6th as Noami Wolf and others suggested. Whether or not he will find some other way to make a statement I don’t know. I will certainly neither work nor spend on December 6th myself.

I have never done any organizing since the installation of the Bush regime. I have participated in things others organize and contributed in various ways to groups that do organize. I was willing to participate in this effort as I have been in many others. It disappoints me greatly that this potentially strong kind of protest came to what looks like nothing.

It is clear to me that the corporate media have worked with the regime to trivialize and marginalize dissent. Further, the regime has made many public statements that dissent is treason and official administrative procedures and even law passed by Congress make dissentors open to being called terrorists, who since the Military Commissions Act of 2006 have no rights. It is more and more dangerous to dissent.

A combination of fear and distractioin make it more and more difficult for the truth to be told and for citizens to stand up.

What I liked about this was that it was a weekday. If in fact millions of Americans had not shown up for work, even if they had just stayed home as some few of us did, that would have made a big impression.

If millions of us had not spent money, the country and the world would have noticed.

If more of us had planted ourselves in our red, white, or blue shirts in pubic places in addition, there would have been an impact.

Americans chose not to make that impact.


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