Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Remember the Ludlow Massacre!

I originally wrote this piece on 19 November 2011.
I am publishing now in memory of the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre.

In my youth I learned that when my older brother was behaving like an obnoxious twat and I confronted him on it, he would become an even more obnoxious twat. The alternative was to ignore him. He would, of course, ramp up his obnoxiousness to try to get a rise out of me. But if I continued to ignore him he would eventually abandon the theatrics and give up; resulting in peace and quiet.

Over the years I have seen people try to draw attention to themselves and their cause in one form or another. Boycott Procter and Gamble! Boycott Disney! Boycott that group that did the bad thing and has poor social policies! The reason that I am not even bothering to Google these news events from the past and provide links is because the protesters were being twats. Easy to ignore and the results of their actions were non events. It takes a real 'super twat' to endure the ignoring, continue to ramp up the obnoxiousness, and continue to try drawing attention. (I am looking at you Fred Phelps.)

So now we have Occupy Wall Street. (OWS). And of course like so many protesting and loud mouthed twats that have come before, all the powers that be had to do was ignore them and it would have gone away. I believe it was not successfully ignored because: A) the powers that be are stupid. Or B) the protests and complaints have merit.

I am pretty confident that supposition A is mostly false. But in either case, can you think of a single reason why the powers that be should remain in power? (My definition of “powers that be” includes, but is not limited to, the executive, congressional, judiciary, the wealthy, and the media.)

History has lessons here. For starters I would like to draw attention to the Ludlow Massacre:

One significant difference between 1914 and 2011 is that so far in 2011 not one single protester has been killed. This actually speaks very well for our current in power crop of idiots. Not killing people is huge. For comparison sake take a look at some other protests going on in 2011, right now as I am writing this:

I really cannot express enough how big a deal it is that not one single police officer, soldier, or instrument of those in power, has killed an OWS protester. This speaks very highly of our democracy, our government, the protection of our rights and our freedoms, and the way things are done in a civilized society.

History has lessons here. I would like to draw attention to the Kent State Massacre:

Instead of being 97 years ago, this was only 41 years ago. Living memory for many of us. One significant difference between 1970 and 2011 is that so far in 2011 not one single protester has been killed. It appears that if you have a grievance against those in power your odds of survival are better the older your democratic state is. Between 1914 and 1970, the number of protesters murdered has been reduced by 84%

It is not my intention to belittle the experiences of the U.C. Davis protesters that spent hours vomiting up pepper spray. But the fact that those protesters are not dead is a good thing. And this is a result of our democracy growing smarter and more mature. Our culture changing its values. This is the evolution of civilization happening before our eyes.

I also need to point out that this is still not noble behavior. I am not trying to say that the cops are being good guys because they did not murder anyone. That they have replaced murder with torture is not exactly laudable. And the debate about torture (cough, water boarding) is not over yet. But it is undeniable that from a human rights standpoint moving from murder to torture is progress. While this progress may be good, we are still a long way from a comfortable destination.

And this progress does not absolve our current government from the need to continue improving our civil rights record. Listening to republican candidates expound on the virtues of water boarding (cough, torture) sickens me. It reminds me far too much of civil war era politicians expounding the economic virtues of slavery. Which is not too distant an analogy from the message of the occupy protesters. The 99% and wage slaves trying to find a way out from the shackles of the wealthy.

It is our leadership that brought on this economic crisis, it is our government that bailed out the banks with no repercussions for their economic injury to our nation. The fact that no protesters have been killed does not give anyone a good behavior pass. The current in power crop of idiots are the ones that screwed things up, and they have got to go. We now need leaders that will continue the work of improving our society, listen more and act on the will of the people, and denounce torture rather than resting on the laurels of non murder.

Now the OWS protesters have an iconic image of themselves being sprayed like weeds before the pesticide of authority. Inhuman, deplorable, irrefutable, and disgusting. Yes, heads should roll over this incident. (I am looking at you Linda Katehi.) The day that a servant of the public turns a weapon on the public is a traumatic day for our democracy, our nation, and our ideals. Too much of this behavior is the sort of stuff that incites revolution and topples governments.

If our nation can withstand it, this pesticide is also fertilizer. We now stand at a place where torture has replaced murder. We grew to this place out of a 224 year old constitution. A set of ideals that said for the first time in human history that people and citizens are important. That our own happiness is important. That individual life matters. That the governed ought to have a say in government.

In the greater scope of human history this is a really amazing point of view. That we, the proletariat, the governed, the people, have been able to get the powers that be to change from murder to torture is impressive. I can only imagine what the standards of civilized behavior will be like in another 100 years, or even another generation. Perhaps torture will be replaced by shame. Loosing a debate may become a social evil. I have no doubt that the debate will be rigged and the audience will be subjected to all the power of social conditioning and psychological warfare available. But I smile a joyous smile as I imagine a day when our grandchildren look upon the world and notice that shame is better than torture which is better than murder.

The bottom line is that in spite of all the problems facing modern democratic societies. Problems with taxation. Problems with unemployment. Problems with health care. Problems with copyright law. Problems with austerity. Problems from economic meltdowns. Problems with socialism. Problems with capitalism. Problems with people just plain being mean to other people as a path to riches. I would rather live in the United States of America in the early 21st century than at any other time in known history. (Although I am certain that we could improve upon our current in power batch of idiots.) My odds for happiness, and not being murdered, are just plain better right now than they have ever been before in all of human history. I would like the next generation, and the one after that, to be able to say the same.

The OWS protests (and the police officers watching them, (and the powers that be controlling them)) are a benchmark. The pepper sprayed U.C. Davis students, and Kent State before them, and Ludlow before that, are symbolic. And they are all part of the social mechanism that is making the world a better place. Milestones on the path to a better world. I salute you, mourn you, observe you, applaud you, and upload in your honor.