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This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

This is a Rich Man's War, What is the Poor Man Fighting For?

This is one of those moments when I should take the time to sort it out before coming to the keyboard. It's one of those dozens upon countless dozens of moments when the magnitude of injustice perpetrated by this country (and its corporate backers) upon United States citizens pulls me into an eddy of disgust. The best way for me to break myself down and reach the points my rants are based on is to look at what happened leading up to it.

Amy Goodman, Nicole Salazar, and Sharif Abdel Kouddous of Democracy Now were arrested yesterday afternoon while filming the riot police in St. Paul, MN.
I heard yesterday that 2 of her producers (Salazar & Kouddous) had been arrested and that she'd clamored up a fence to try and interview the arresting officers. I learned this morning, when I checked the website, that she'd been arrested in her attempt to get to those officers. The footage of Salazar being taken down by riot cops (ration 5:1), which was self shot, is totally unnerving. Watch it on YouTube, or, if you're easily upset just rate it 5 of 5 stars and up the chance that a "Major Media Outlet" will take notice and report it somewhere.

One of my favorite things about Democracy Now! are the breaks between stories. When watching the breaks on the web version of the show you get to listen to soul or folk or fight songs in the background of video footage of riots, injustice, war zones, neglected areas, etc. It's more uplifting than it sounds.
The first break today had a Leonard Cohen song about democracy playing behind images of full gear riot forces marching on civilians. It just gets me going. I've spoken of riot porn before.

I came home after a long day being busy and "responsible" and turned the broadcast on again since I didn't get to finish it at work. While I sat on the floor, eating raw garlic to eradicate my head cold, making another impossible budget, footage of the aftermath of Katrina played and talk of the way Gustav was dealt with went on. I wrote down my monthly bills, other debts due, other expected upcoming expenditures. The column was long. I wrote down my monthly income; a terrifyingly short column. In the end I noticed that this first half of the month require that I make another $400 just to be in decent standing and still get to eat/keep my plasma (the stuff in my blood, not a teevee...in case you wondered). I sighed, set my graph paper and calculator aside and cut up some cantaloupe. Where's that going to come from? What plausible options do I even have?

Sometimes I feel like I'm looking down a very long barrel of a very powerful gun and I panic, I don't know what options are available to me besides ducking, running, screaming for help...Democracy Now! played on. No brilliant ideas popped into mind. No motivation to continue my quest for income for more hours this day spurred. Now they were showing images of the Iraq Veterans Against War.

"JACQUIE SOOHEN: As the march ended and veterans gathered back on the Capitol steps, some overwhelmed with emotion, we were reminded once again that behind each of these men and women in uniform is a powerful story. Former Abu Ghraib prison guard, Benjamin Thompson, shared his story with Democracy Now!

BENJAMIN THOMPSON: One of my prisoners at Abu Ghraib, a place where you saw all those photographs come out—you [don't] know the half of it. Most of our people didn’t live in those cell blocks. Most of the people lived outdoors. They’re killed by enemy insurgents, in our camps...

We had ten-year-old boys in my camps. We had an eighty-year-old blind man in my camp. They were killed by enemy fire, because we did not protect them when they were in our custody. They were not worth protecting. The generals that came to my base came with three helicopters apiece. And when they left, they took them with them.

We were giving them food that made them sick. We were giving them water that gave them kidney stones. We weren’t supplying them with medical attention. They were dying from lack of heart medication that they had been on for twenty years. You never heard about this, ever, because of the [expletive] photographs. The Department of Defense focused all of the attention upon those atrocious acts committed by war criminals, my brother and sister military policemen. And then everything else that happened at that prison, to the other 95 percent of those prisoners, went unreported in the media. This is not OK."


It's all so overwhelming. It's all I can do to keep my own small corner of this country to keep from crumbling around me. At times like this I wonder why I even try. I wonder why I don't let it crumble around me. Why don't I let the debt wash over me, take everything it can and then walk off into the hazy horizon to do what I can with what I really have: my legs, what's on my back, my conscience, and my creativity.

I wonder, and then I acquiesce. I think that both of them are pitiful options and that I have to do my best with what I have and pick a route to stick on, at least to stay sane. The route I've chosen is the more beaten path right now. I am learning about goals and that there are steps to take to get to them. I am learning how not beat myself up for not being able to do it all. I am learning to read the fine print and the interest rate and I'm learning how to fly my freak flag - you fucken heard it - learning how to fly my flag made up of sex, justice, linguistics, heart, seeds, nutrition, and muscle no matter where I'm stationed in the fight.



And to think, I could have spent my night trying to write the best online dating ad ever.

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