Friday, August 14, 2009

ON PROTESTING AND THE NEW RADICALS: (Or, It's Everbody's Constitution)

During the Democratic Convention of 1968 – when the Radical Left took over Grant Park Chicago (ironically, the exact same location President Obama delivered his acceptance speech on election night, 2008) and clashed with Mayor Richard “Major Dick” Daley’s stormtrooper -esque police force while chanting the now infamous protestor rallying call: “The Whole World is Watching! The Whole World is Watching!” – the peacenik, cool & groovy, free love hippie-dippie (the following year to be known forevermore as “The Woodstock Generation”) became the living epitome of unruly mob rule and, to the conservative power structure (Nixon’s “Silent Majority”): a major pain in the ass.

It was that moment – as well as the images captured in Michael Wadleigh’s classic ‘60s time capsule film Woodstock (along with other seminal counter-culture events such as: the 1967 Summer of Love, Timothy Leary’s anti-battle cry to “turn on, tune in, drop out”, the rise of cult figures like Charles Manson and communes that also doubled as breeding grounds for cult followers – to name a few) that caused a San Andreas Fault sized schism between the blue blood, majority white working class to ├╝ber rich mainstream American “squares” from coast to coast, north to south, and all around the “Heartland” and the children of the World War II Generation – the so-called baby boomers – with their long hair, dope smoking, multiple partner orgies and bellbottoms. This schism has only grown wider and become even more entrenched as the Culture Wars (promulgated by television commentators Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck of FOX News, Lou Dobbs of CNN and Rush Limbaugh of A.M. Radio (aka Clear Channel) on the Right, to Janeane Garofalo, Randi Rhodes of Air America Radio Keith Olbermann of MSNBC and atheist comedians and social commentators like HBO’s Bill Maher – to name a few – on the Left) rage on over the commercial airwaves.

The costumes may have changed (all those baby boomers are close to retirement age and the progressive left now wear business suits – are mostly responsible for the Dot-Com Revolution –and look as square and act as materialistic as the Suits they once railed against). But the cultural divide remains the same, and their children – the Generation X, Y/Millennials and now the Obama Babies — are basically a by-product of their never ending slugfest emerging from the battle grounds of Grant Park Chicago of ’68 (and the Watts Riots of ’65, to name a few).

So flash forward to 2009: The Health Care Debate (or as some have coined it: “Obama Care”, aka “Socialized Medicine”). Like a parallel universe where everything is inside out, upside down, topsy-turvy, holy-moly, and Mother-of-God what the fuck is happening???: The white bread, working class, mainstream has now become the loud mouthed protestors and the radical left somehow are the defenders of the new status quo. How the fuck did this happen??? Like some sort of Freaky Friday inspired episode of The West Wing, conservatives have hijacked the playbook of activist liberals and have begun to mobilize, rant, rave and picket. Sure, we’ve seen these kinds of shenanigans before at abortion protests and White Supremacist rallies. But the real precursor to the newfound radical, right-wing conservatives/libertarians has got to be the “spontaneous” Tea Party (or “Tea Bagger”) demonstrations that sprang up around the country (advertised by their friends over at FOX News – but of course, not sponsored ;-). You can’t stop the party! Keep the muthuhfuckin’ party goin’!!! Let the chants begin: “What Do We Want?: No Taxes! And When Do We Want It?: NOW! What Do We Want?: No Universal Health Care! And When Do We Want It?: NEVER!!!” The Whole World Is Watching!!! And thinking: “Huh? What the fuck???

Basically, the entirety of the Left-Wing activist collective has got be completely beside themselves… “You’ve stolen our act, dudes!” When fat, middle-aged, prickly white guys in trucker hats – sporting red-neck attire and sounding like Larry the Cable guy impersonating Al Pacino on a rant – start acting like Abbie-friggin’-Hoffman, you know the shit has hit the proverbial fan! They’re “mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore!” Every night, Glenn Beck loses his shit and recreates the seminal scene from the 1976 classic film Network. He’s become the cheerleader for the new radical right like some ‘60s lefty, yippie protestor – only he’s sporting a buzz cut and donning a business suit. Abbie Hoffman would probably find the FOX New prime-time line-up hysterically funny – like some kind of madcap theater of the absurd with conservative-leaning corporate sponsorship!

And this is EXACTLY the reason why: 1) I’ve never gone to a protest rally in my life 2) Refuse to call myself a “Liberal” 3) Hate chants, slogans, picket signs and political gatherings in general involving posters, catch phrases and marching. Mostly because: it doesn’t matter what side you’re on, mob mentality kills dialogue and stifles original thinking, but above all it doesn’t allow for constructive debate and a chance to find common ground. It’s the exact opposite of a democratic society, in my mind.

I know what you’re thinking: “But dude! It’s our right as Americans to protest against our government… freedom of speech is protected by the Constitution… the Civil Rights marches… protestors ended the Vietnam War, man!” No, actually, I don’t think they did. Nixon ended the Vietnam War because he found the endgame unattainable and realized, after Cambodia, there was no clear-cut exit strategy that would result in a complete American victory. Yes, the protestors helped to change the mood of the country, but Walter Cronkite’s nightly news broadcast alone probably had more to do with swaying the hearts and minds of the Silent Majority. The impact of the Most Trusted Man in America’s time in country, coupled with the debacle of Watergate years later, helped to tilt the country increasingly leftward and, after ousting Gerald Ford, ushered in the presidency of Jimmy Carter; not to mention the complete takeover of the Media and Entertainment Industry by the leftwing segment of the Baby Boomer Generation – mostly through the power of comedy (starting with Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and culminating with NBC’s Saturday Night which turned into Saturday Night Live which is now basically known as SNL… ‘cause like everything else, the title with the least amount of characters wins the day). However, those leftwing radicals did, in my mind, more harm than good and the reverberations of their actions are still being debated in our national dialogue (see Ayers, Bill: Weather Underground).

This is my take on political activism and protesting in general: it’s a royal pain in the balls! Subsequently, the reason why the majority of my Bay Ridge Brooklyn based, Italian-American, mostly working class family are staunchly conservative Republicans and not pro-union Democrats (like most immigrant working class northeasterners) is because – aside from the cultural landmines of abortion and gay marriage (they are Catholic after all) – the former hippie protestors turned limousine liberals of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, along with the African-American rioters who, during the blackouts, trashed Bushwick and the Bronx back in ’78 (the year of our Lord, and the New York Yankees!) pretty much bankrupted the city. These traditional values, old school Americans – sons and daughters of Italian immigrants who came to the New World to work hard and speak English – didn’t much care for the sight of Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York going up in flames while African-Americans stormed the streets – fists in the air and wielding baseball bats – and Puerto Rican and Dominican transplants swarmed into the neighborhood and supposedly lowered the property value.

This, of course, is how they see things (not the way I see it). Here’s the narrative: Teddy Kennedy, supported by his bootlegger father, and his Democrat cohorts that controlled Washington – along with a bunch of former hippies turned Upper East Side socialites – raised the taxes of hard working Americans and started doling out the Welfare Checks to lazy, chip on their shoulders minorities with an axe to grind and a hatred of white folks. They destroyed the social fabric of a once prosperous America, devalued the dollar, created a liberal cesspool of immorality and poor work ethic, turned young people gay, gave “niggas” the right to vote, opened the floodgates to let in all the “spics” and “‘ricans”, and used the Media to bolster their Communist/Socialist agenda by offering free publicity to every bra/flag burning, long-haired, Black Consciousness, pill popping, weed smoking, Hippie/Yippie, Pinko homo! That was the 1970s.

Then along came Reagan! The Cowboy Savior riding in on a wave of holy white light, taking his place as king of the Shining City on a Hill. He reestablished our place as the shining example to the world, tilted the balance of power back to the Right, converted Democrats to Republicans, bolstered the Religious Right and Evangelical Christians, established a trickle down society, made taxes a dirty word (if it hadn’t already been), made government the enemy and not the helping hand (and also made “government” a dirty word), fostered the concept presented by the 1987 Oliver Stone classic Wall Street: “greed is good” and made it feel good to be filthy stinking rich again. America no longer had to be ashamed of its leadership (see: Carter, Jimmy – Iranian Hostage Crisis). The whole world was watching, and wanted our blue jeans! The Cold War Warrior-In-Chief turned up the temp on the battle against the Evil Empire – the Rusky Soviet Union and all them hippie protestors had to fall in line or move to Russia, gawd-damn it!

WOLVERINES!

When Red Dawn hit the movie houses in ’84, I was in middle school and fully enraptured by its message. I, like my other Midwestern, conservative leaning cohorts of my white bread prep school, were like mini-Reaganites. It’s probably difficult for those who know me now to think of me as a Reagan-baby who wore Izod’s and khaki pants and wanted to “kill a Commie for Mommy.” But I grew up in a Reagan household and went to a conservative Christian school and all I knew was Soviets were bad and Reagan good. Ironically, that’s EXACTLY the same narrative that’s played out every night on the FOX News network. Forget the Islamofascists, turban-headed terrorist of the Middle East. The real enemy is and always has been Socialist, Stalinist, Maoists… and hippies! OF COURSE, that’s when WE were strong and powerful. The world loved us! Conservatives were in control. Blacks, women and fags were still kind of in their place (or at least not in any significant places of power). The corruption of the ‘60s and ‘70s had been the cause of all of our problems, and Ronald Reagan was there to show us that, really, Daddy is still in charge and all is Right in the world again.

If you’re confused, oh ye Lefties scratching your collective heads, why angry middle aged white women are grabbing microphones at townhall meetings and literally crying: “I want my country back!” This is what the fuck they’re talking about! They never left 1984. They’re going home every night to watch Red Dawn. They never stopped fearing the Russians. Yeah, they’re distracted by the brown skinned, jihadist, towelheads, and will chant, whenever it’s convenient: “We Shall Never Forget” (the way Auschwitz survivors talk about the holocaust – September 11th is our holocaust. And for one horrific moment on 9/11, WE came together as a people and mourned together… as Glenn Beck cried on television when he implemented his 9/12 Project – an actual attempt by the Howard Beale of FOX to find some kind of reconciliation with “the Other” – meaning: Lefties.)

But the current health care debate is, like everything else, the continuation of the Reagan Revolution – the Right's default position. Only, this Revolution is being televised and the Reaganites are now the new Woodstock Generation. They’re getting their marching orders from their new warlord: Limbaugh, and their getting riled up each night by Murdoch’s stable of talking heads. They know the narrative. It’s simple: Democrats bad. Republicans good. Liberals: Socialists. Conservatives: True Americans. It’s so simple, so basic, so fundamental… so clear!

But wait… a Kenyan born, Socialist half-breed from Dick Daley’s (remember ’68: “The Whole World is Watching!”) Chicago is now in the White House… HOW THE FUCK DID THIS HAPPEN???? HOW DID THINGS GO SO TERRIBLY WRONG?? WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO OUR SHINING CITY ON A HILL??? DEATH CAMPS!!! PROTECT GRANDMA!!! BUY GUNS!!! BE AFRAID, BE VERY, VERY AFRAID!!! OBAMA GONNA KILL YOUR GRAMA AND RAISE YOUR TAXES!!! SOVIETS!!! RUSSIA!!! MAO!!! WOLVERINES!!!

Hey, all you protestors on the left – you’re now reapin’ what you’ve been sowin’. You taught these muthafuckuhs how to do this shit! They’ve been watching you marching around all these years with your signs, and your banners and your slogans and your fists in the air, and your Code Pink pins, and your gay pride parades and your… concerts!!! Those fucking Tea Baggers just teabagged ya! How do ya like them organic apples? And now, you got one of your leaders, Keith Olbermann, doing “special commentaries” about all the brainwashed masses of angry townhall protestors and scolding their corporate taskmasters. Isn’t there something sickeningly hypocritical about a commentator on the Left chastising protestors on the Right for seeming unruly and shouting their dumbfounded gov’nment representatives down; you mean they’re not willing to have a civilized “discussion” about health care??? (Remember ’68: The Whole World is Watching!!!) All these gov’nment representatives are trotted out like show ponies and just stand there, all deer in the headlights, while an angry mob of retirement aged radicals get all Abbie Hoffman on their ass!

Again, this is why I DON’T MARCH AT PROTEST RALLIES! Because it’s the same shit, different ideology; nobodies listening, nobodies discussing, no genuine new ideas are emerging, no problems are being solved, no one is really being heard, no one is seeking common ground. We’ve become a country of: I’m right your left your wrong (and vice versa), fuck you! And I’m gonna scream louder than you about it… oh and everybody is a Nazi, by the way. All our leaders are like Hitler. Bush was like Hitler, Obama is like Hitler, Reagan was like Hitler… fucking: NO! HITLER WAS LIKE HITLER! People who never lived in Nazi Germany or Soviet Union Russia or Maoist China do not have the right to say: “My country is becoming like…” NO, IT’S NOT!!! And you have no fucking clue what it’s like because you’re from the suburbs of Indiana! Just because you watched Red Dawn doesn’t mean you have an evolved concept of living in a Soviet/Socialist society.

To echo the words or Mister Senor Love Daddy: “Yo! Hold up! Time out! TIME OUT! Y'all take a chill! Ya need to cool that shit out! And that's the double truth, Ruth!” (Do the Right Thing, Spike Lee. 1989) Nobody is gonna lead your grandma to a death camp. Nobody is gonna euthanize you when you hit 59. This ain’t Logan’s Run, bitch! America is not turning into the Soviet Union! Obama is not the anti-Christ and he’s not the Black Devil from Africa coming to rape you white women with his big, Kenyan cock and he’s not using health care as some sort of “retributions” Trojan horse! Yo, Glenn Howard Beale Beck – you really need to CHILL THE FUCK OUT!!!

All you loud mouth protestors, left and right, please, for the love of God, country and Ronald Reagan or FDR… take it down a notch! Sit the fuck down when the pony shows up at your little townhall and shut the fuck up; listen to what the pony has to say –think about it, mull it over, break off into discussion groups, stay calm, weigh the pros and cons, analyze, read, research, contemplate, meditate… and for fucksake – think about it on your own! Turn the gawd-damn TV off… shut off the A.M. radio, find a corner of the room, sit on your hands and get a fucking grip!

… AND WHILE WE’RE AT IT: THE CONSTITUTION

And please, people, stop talking like you’re a Constitutional scholar when… you’re not. Please, spare us your speeches on the Constitution as if you think the Constitution is like the Bible. Your interpretation of the political equivalent of holy scripture is not necessarily the end all be all. Last time I checked, none of you muthufuckus are named Thomas Jefferson (unless, ya know, your name is, indeed, Tom Jefferson) you weren’t there in Philadelphia back in the day and you weren’t part of the Continental Congress. No one I know, especially among my Facebook “friends”, is an expert on the Constitution (except for, ironically, my “friend” President Barack Obama, who actually taught Constitutional law – and as a side note: dont’cha think it’s more than a little arrogant to think you know more about the Constitution and can speak with more authority about it then an actual Constitutional scholar – who happens to actually be our Commander-In-Chief… whether you’re cool with that fact or not? Taking a few poli-sci courses in college does not a Constitutional scholar make.)

The Right doesn’t have de facto ownership of the true meaning of the Constitution – nor does the Left. It’s a living, breathing document, and it was also written by white men who owned slaves and summarized African men and women as 3/5ths of a person. They also stole the land we now live in from indigenous tribes and marched them onto reservations… if you really want to talk about death camps… So, when you read the Declaration of Independence: “All men are created equal… and the Pursuit of Happiness” and the Preamble to the Constitution, perhaps it may be wise to consider what President Obama is talking about when he discusses “perfecting out union.”

We’re constantly trying to perfect our union, and we’re constantly trying to find ways to not only improve upon the mistakes of our past, but also to use the Constitution as a guideline for our ever changing (and growing) society and population; this constantly adapting and evolving experiment in democracy. The Constitution is not a straight-jacket, it’s a blue print. So when you say “get back to the Constitution” as some sort of excuse for why you hate everything Obama is doing… yeah, you may want to actually, I don’t know maybe… ummm… shut the fuck up! (Mostly because, you’re probably a white boy from the South or the Rocky Mountain West and you probably think that you got slightly robbed after the Civil War. Sorry, the North won… black people have the right to vote… Goldwater, err, I mean McCain, lost the election… Obama is president… get over it!)

Anyway… I hope you see my point.

I don’t march… I blog.