Dispatches From D.C.-Homeward Bound

By: W.D. Noble

I’m coming home.

The decision to leave, in the end, was an easy one. I’d applied the economist’s ‘marginal utility’ to the thing, and reached some conclusions. They weren’t pretty ones, but truthful.

First, I was hoping for a more diverse group. Most of the people here are 40+, and while they all mean well, I’m given to believe that there’s no passion in the thing (although some, in deference, are pretty passionate). It’s hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks that Gen Y is simply accepting what’s being handed to them – even if it’s a shitty future from a shitty bunch of political grifters who sold out their futures so a handful of people could sip champagne on a balcony.

The handful of twentysomethings I’ve met here – products, by and large, of the post-9/11 era – have told me stories of their complacent friends and fellows; people who grew up knowing that they can be patted-down, photographed, filmed, spied upon and arrested for ‘suspicion’ of terrorism. These people accept, in the main, this condition as one of the prices for ‘freedom’. The few who’ve connected the dots and who are here can’t believe that their age-related comrades are so apathetic and accepting.

Second, while I could be wrong, I’m of the belief that this entire thing has been co-opted in some fashion by the authorities. A case in point – the other day, about ten people from the Plaza marched on the House Armed Services Committee meeting (seven were arrested). Seven. I’m sorry, but that’s not a ‘protest’. That’s a minor disruption in the day’s business for these people; the Capitol Police, who are in charge of the building, actually outnumbered the protesters without adding additional staff. There are several cops in our number (I discussed this with a number of people who agreed with me that this was likely the case, including one of the organizers, who told me, “But what are we going to do about it?” Having neatly boxed us in by giving us a permit for the next four months, they’ve all but guaranteed that the organizers will behave like the goldfish who are put in a suddenly-bigger-bowl – they’ll still swim in the same small circle. Now that the park is theirs, the organizers will strive to keep the number of protesters within the limits. It’s cheaper on the D.C. police, as I mentioned earlier – they don’t have to house or feed us; we’ve done that for ourselves, and pledged to keep the thing peaceful, so they’ll not have to consider what happens every time a committee comes up with a new march or ‘occupation’. The whole thing begins to remind me of a church-camp. People wander through, reading our signs and seeing how orderly we are – one rather vacuous-looking girl (obviously dressed for one of the local offices and on her lunch break), said “How cute!”

Which brings me to my third reason – there simply aren’t enough of us. We all fit in the Plaza. We all toe the line. We all stay orderly and contained.

This needs to be messy, people. It needs to be chaotic. I’m perfectly willing to get myself arrested – but not for walking down the street and saying, “Excuse me, Mr. Chairman, may I sit here in your meeting? I know these people in blue uniforms will take me to their jail in a few minutes, because I’m going to pull out this sign under my jacket and say ‘No More War!’ – but that’s all right. I’ll be out in an hour after you take my fingerprints and photo, because I’ve got a lot of friends who’ll pull out their platinum Amex.”

Fuck that. That’s not a protest. As I said earlier, that’s a minor interruption.

The authorities are not afraid of us – not by nearly enough.

Until there are enough of us to shut down one of these buildings – until there are enough of us to completely block the streets – until there are enough of The Best of Us to force the police to not only add staff, but to call out the National Guard and the bulldozers and pull troops off the lines in Iraq and Afghanistan to contain the masses in the streets – until America begins to resemble 1968 – this won’t work.

Those I met – the handful of twentysomethings with no future and the old people who’d seen this before in the past – they’re good people. They Get It. They – and I – are willing.

There just aren’t enough of us. And that scares me.

It scares me because no one appears – at least now – to be willing to do whatever it takes to correct this mess. Most people still believe, in spite of all of the evidence to the contrary, that the electoral system in America really works. Most still believe in the ballot, when the ballot has so clearly been co-opted, as was this protest, by Those in Charge.

There were over a dozen people who sent me notes just before I left for this place a little over a week ago, who said, “I wish I was there with you,” then offered some excuse or another. I said at the time, and I still believe this – you no longer have a choice. If you sit on the fence, you’ve made a choice to stand with the apathetic. If you choose to participate, you’ve made the choice to be a rebel, and to help save your country. It’s that simple. Sadly, most have made their decision.

As much as I’d like to quote Spartacus, and say, “He’ll be back, and he’ll be millions,” something tells me that things are either going to have to get a hell of a lot worse. I’m given to remember that the 1960’s protests, as large as they were, were only marginally successful until 1968, when people proved they were willing to shut down the nation’s capitol and get their heads cracked open in Chicago; Kent State was the galvanizing moment, when protesters were finally killed by Establishment troops – and public opinion, even among the apathetic ‘Silent Majority’ – was finally swayed.

While this era needs another Neil Young and a modern version of “Ohio”, what America needs to understand is that it took Kent State to provide the inspiration.

I’m afraid it’ll come to that.

Dispatches from D.C. 5 of 5

Part I: Joining The Revolution; Chronicle of One Man’s Journey

Part II: W.D. Noble’s Dispatches From D.C.

Part III: Learning and Growing Through Protest- D.C.

Part IV: Sharing A Tent In Freedom Plaza

Part V: Dispatches From D.C.-Homeward Bound

About astranavigo

Astra is one of the clever monkeys occupying space on the Third Planet From The Sun. While it was an early wish of Astra's to be one of the first to go to Proxima Centauri, he knows this is not to be; instead, you can find him here (some of the time) using simple tools to create communication. Holding up a mirror and saying 'Looky! Mistofer Emperor! Y'ain't wearin' no clothes!" is but one of the services he provides here. Others are subverting prevailing wisdom, peeing in people's Cheerios, trashing on their Imaginary Friends (he does this a lot,) and shifting paradigms without benefit of a clutch. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he hopes he'll never have to learn the true meaning of some of his dystopian fiction.

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8 Comments on “Dispatches From D.C.-Homeward Bound”

  1. Agreed, Will. This new generation is not prepared for a “real” protest. They will be though, as the government gradually takes more freedoms away. The first ones to suffer, sadly, are the babyboomers who were ready to fight now.

  2. It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings. The Occupy Houston group is growing. A rapper joined the Occupy Houston group and has urged people to get out and get involved. Here’s his statement from Huffington Post.

    “‘Don’t just tweet about it. Be about it. Come on down,’ he tweeted. ‘If you’re unemployed and not job hunting today, join us if you can,’ he said in another tweet. He urged his followers to fight back against ‘corporate irresponsibility and unfair political, social and economical influence.'”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/14/rapper-bun-b-joins-occupy_n_1011390.html

  3. I’m not sure that the younger generation fails to “get” it. I’m beginning to think they are simply on different pages from their elders when it comes to protest.

    Truly I think most of the protesters in NY, Boston, etc. live in or close to those places which is why they seem more effective. We need to be working where we are. We are a big country. Containing one big protest is always going to be easier for the powers that be than containing thousands of them.

    I agree with what SpaceEagle said though even where we are we must “Be about it” I stopped through a local support showing protest today, not counting us, there were 6 people. Can’t do much with that.

  4. Will, i think demographic location has much to do with how the occupations are handled. This movement can’t compare to demonstrations of the past because at no other time has a protest been echoed in over a thousand cities throughout the United States and in over six hundred more locations throughout the world. It’s impossible to gauge the number of protesters without tallying the numbers represented in each city, but if you estimate just two hundred fifty protesters (very low estimate) times two thousand locations, you have five hundred thousand protesters.

    Many of the cities are opportunistic. Wall Street occupiers complain that the Democratic Party has been trying usurp the no-political-party movement with an agenda of their own. In my own home state, the Occupation is used to advance the interests of a few pet politicians that had been defeated in the last election. They have a Rules for Behavior that makes it sound like the last great stand of the nanny camp.

    It is the intent of the government agencies, the intent of the mainstream media to make the Occupation Movement sound as impotent and directionless as possible. It is their intent to ignore solidarity of voice and undermine the protests as ineffective. The intent is to make people just give up and go away.

    The Vietnam War was not put to rest with a single protest. It was a movement that began on college campuses and grew, one that could not be turned back as more and more people began questioning the ethics of invasive wars. The Civil Rights movement; same thing. It takes time for the seeds of discontent to flower into a field, but the seeds are being nurtured. You cannot stop the masses, and though from your point of view it might seem you are lost in a small and hopeless number, the masses have been ignited.

  5. Folks:

    I’m tired (exhausted; really), and getting used to sleeping in a bed again and taking regular showers.

    That said, while I appreciate everyone’s commentary here, I’m hoping everyone understands that my time was not wasted by going to Washington. I learned a lot.

    First, I learned that while some people have been ‘ignited’, they are far from the masses needed to bring about real change. When everyone fits in the Plaza or the park in New York and are by-and-large cooperative and docile, things will not change. It’s easy to write everyone off as aging boomers wishing for the past, and out-of-work layabouts wanting a handout.

    That’s how the mainstream media have portrayed us, and while I’m hoping it’s wrong, until the masses have a reason to genuinely arise, that’s what we’ll be – because we will not have the numbers to effect a change.

    Period.

    What that reason is, I can’t fathom – because reason-enough has been given the majority of Americans to start sorting-out the 1%, for good and all.

    I suppose, as I wrote this past summer, it’s a matter of math – how many homeless; how many unemployed; how many foreclosures; how many suicides – are enough.

    In my book, one is too many. That’s why I went. What amazes me is that more didn’t.

    More later.

    -W

  6. I was at the AT&T store exchanging phones today. They had Fox News on a TV in the store and they reported that the Occupy Wall Street movement was Communists, Socialists, and Nazis.

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