Implications of Events at the Conventions

I had been trying to sum up for myself the significance of the massive assaults on civil liberties at both of the party conventions. We saw denial to US citizens of rights guaranteed by the Constitution; people arrested for practicing journalism, assembling, and demanding redress of grievances. We saw violence against US citizens by police equipped to stave off a full scale invasion.

Chris Hedges ends an article in TruthDig titled Tyranny on Display at the Republican Convention with this paragraph:

“St. Paul was not ultimately about selecting a presidential candidate. It was about the power of the corporate state to carry out pre-emptive searches, seizures and arrests. It was about squads of police in high-tech riot gear, many with drawn semiautomatic weapons, bursting into houses. It was about seized computers, journals and political literature. It was about shutting down independent journalism, even at gunpoint. It was about charging protesters with “conspiracy to commit riot,” a rarely used statute that criminalizes legal dissent. It was about 500 people held in open-air detention centers. It was about the rising Orwellian state that has hollowed out the insides of America, cast away all that was good and vital, and donned its skin to shackle us all.”

This is an image that accompanies Hedges’ article of a woman offering a just visible yellow flower to the police, who responded to her with pepper spray.


Click here to read the full article.

I don’t believe the police are incapable of telling the difference between a flower and a dangerous weapon. As Hedges does, I believe that the corporations that funded these conventions fund and own our government. They chose the candidates through their wholly owned media and they want to eradicate free independent media. They fund the police who attack citizens. The candidates are also wholly owned and will do what their owners want, as our elected officials have increasingly been doing.

What can we do about this? How can we take our country back? We can certainly support independent media like Democracy Now and act to have the charges against journalists dropped. We can refuse to be suppressed. We can refuse to give up our right to assemble. Like the valient students of the White Rose movement in Nazi Germany, we can refuse to be quiet. We can also refuse to be discouraged, regardless of how grim things look today. As historian and veteran of the Civil Rights Movement Howard Zinn said to graduates of Spelman College in May of 2005:

“But let me tell you why, in spite of [the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, poverty, homelessness, lack of access to health care and education, etc.], you must not be discouraged.

“I want to remind you that, fifty years ago, racial segregation here in the South was entrenched as tightly as was apartheid in South Africa. The national government, even with liberal presidents like Kennedy and Johnson in office, was looking the other way while Black people were beaten and killed and denied the opportunity to vote. So Black people in the South decided they had to do something by themselves. They boycotted and sat in and picketed and demonstrated, and were beaten and jailed, and some were killed, but their cries for freedom were soon heard all over the nation and around the world, and the President and Congress finally did what they had previously failed to do — enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Many people had said: The South will never change. But it did change. It changed because ordinary people organized and took risks and challenged the system and would not give up. That’s when democracy came alive.”

Click here to read the rest of his speech.


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