January 22, 2008

I mean, from today’s perspective it all seems so straightforward, doesn’t it? Show the nation images of children in Birmingham being attacked by policemen with clubs and fire hoses and bull dogs, and from the resulting outrage would perforce come change. I’m not saying that it was easy: I can barely imagine the courage it must have required to take that first step from Kelly Ingram Park onto the street.

But the thing is, back then, the evildoers didn’t understand the power of the media or of dissembling. In the last fifty years they have learned subtlety. They have learned to cozen and to distract and to manipulate; and they have learned, when those don’t work, to corrupt and cow the media so that even the worst of their hubris is presented as one side of a balanced argument. I think there’s very little more insidious in the world than the idea of a balanced argument. How do you balance the truth? Well, you can’t. So in order to maintain balance you have to toss truth out on its ass. Some people think the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina was inappropriate and insufficient. Other people disagree. How is that any different from saying that some people think segregation is necessary to maintain the order of society because black people are inferior to white people in intelligence and in character, but other people disagree? And then you put it on TV and call it an objective report, because if you tried to upset the status quo you might find yourself replaced tomorrow by somebody more tractable.

And in the fifties and sixties, the civil rights movement drew an almost inconceivable strength from the belief in a righteous God. Today the evildoers have managed to twist religion so thoroughly to their own ends that it’s difficult to allow God onto your side, because if our leaders–regardless of political affiliation–have reduced Him to a tool to help them maintain power, how can you believe He’ll be of any help in the fight for justice?

I guess my point is: to me, in 2008, the weapons of righteousness in the movement led by Dr. King and his allies seem to have been powerful weapons and easily discernible ones. And today those weapons have been rendered useless, and no matter how hard I try I can’t think of what on earth might replace them.

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10 Responses to I mean, from today’s perspective it all seems so straightforward

  1. Jeffrey says:

    Have you ever spoken to or read my friend, the Angry Black Bitch (http://www.angryblackbitch.com)? I would swear that you are both channeling the same righteous anger.

    Clearly, violent uprising is the answer. We could all three go get guns and make a big gay party of it. As long as mine coordinates with my laptop and cell phone.

  2. Jeff says:

    Beautifully put, Faustus.

    I hate leaving comments like that, because I don’t feel like it adds anything to the discussion. But I wanted to say it anyway.

  3. initials says:

    Hang in there, Faustus! Government is a cesspool. It is pretty well proven that those who seek power out should never actually be given it on a silver platter… So, the solution is to go for the least charismatic candidate, the worst liar. At that point, force better rules on corporate governance through referenda, and blammo! Smooth sailing for another decade or so.

    Fortunately, there are very positive indicators that such political changes are possible in the short term. These are: 1) The candidacy of Hillary Clinton (wooden in the extreme, terrible liar), 2) A rotten-to-the-core economy, so because of lax corporate governance rules and poor credit policy coming back to bite us in our collective backsides, and 3) An emerging unified rejection of “religious politics” in what’s left of the middle classes. While these aren’t good news in every arena, they add up to a recipe for change in the long run… And really, that’s how we all need to be thinking, anyway.

    So do yourself a favor and don’t color-coordinate a gun with something fashionable for a shoot out this season… Wait until 2010, and join the first popular uprising of the urban poor as their prophet of style (and grammatic perfection).

  4. David says:

    That wasn’t crazy at all.

  5. Chuggle says:

    God, I’m so depressed.

  6. goblinbox says:

    Hear, hear!

  7. Daniel says:

    I’ve been thinking about this for some time now, because even though I’m not orthodox Christian (or Jewish or Muslim, for that matter), I still think there’s a power to unite and work together that we need to tap. I just haven’t figured out how to work around the propaganda machine that’s been built by the conservative ruling elite. If you figure it out you’ll be my hero.

  8. birdfarm says:

    Oh, Faustus, I’m overwhelmed with misery, and I don’t want to go to work. But that’s beside the point – that’s just why I’m here at 6:20 am.

    History shows us that in the struggle between powerful elite and those desiring some form of democracy (you know, where people actually get to make collective decisions about how to address important matters that deeply affect them), this is a repeated cycle. We come up with new ways to use the strength of our numbers (general strike; media-fueled outrage). That lasts for a while and then they come up with a new way to coerce/impose submission (NLRB; media-controlled thinking). Then things seem hopeless until someone comes up with the next way to get around them. At the moment there are actually some pretty exciting things going on in the barely-noticed backwaters of the ragged remnants of the labor movement (excuse mixed metaphors).

    This cycle will continue until we make a radical, fundamental change in the system that perpetuates the rule of a small elite. I’m not saying a violent uprising – that’s been tried and doesn’t seem to turn out so well. Believe me, I’ve studied it thoroughly with the full willingness to consider it as a viable option, but it seems that inevitably, things get out of control, and everyone with half a brain ends up getting executed for disloyalty to the revolution.

    But we do need some way to create a revolutionary change in our governmental system – a new constitution, a new civil order, etc. Because contrary to popular belief, the current system was set up by a wealthy elite with the goal of allowing some popular input but basically maintaining their own control.

    The key to it all does lie in what Daniel said – that underneath it all, people know that we have the potential (a) to work together for something positive and (b) to live happier lives than those imposed on us by capitalism.

    *sigh* Unfortunately, this little speech does not spare me from having to go be a cog in the system today….

  9. waiting says:

    A bloody revolution is what is needed to replace them–but that won’t happen until happy meals are no longer available.

  10. waiting says:

    A bloody revolution is what is needed to replace them–but that won’t happen until happy meals are no longer available.


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