Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

By: Jane Stillwater

“And there we wept…when we remembered Zion.”

Today at the second day of Netroots Nation convention in Providence, Rhode Island, there were all kinds of panels to attend and films and presentations to watch — and they all seemed to have the same common theme: That Americans need to start working together instead of going for each others’ jugulars with red-white-and-blue tooth and claw.

During the American Transit Workers union’s presentation of a documentary on the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike that included video footage from the Lorraine Motel, with tears in my eyes; I remembered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s heroic bravery and wisdom.

“We are facing a two-headed creature here,” King said. “He is a labor-union hater with one mouth and a civil-rights hater with the other.” The ATW also gave out free ice cream at the showing as well. Dove bars. Dulce de leche. And chocolate chip cookies. No kale chips? Huh? What is this world coming to?

Then someone in the audience at a panel discussion on undocumented Americans stated that, “Sure, people of color have it hard these days — but we ALL have it hard. And we all need to unite in common cause to make sure that all of our voices are heard as we face the greatest challenges of our life; as the One Percent tries to drown out the American Dream for the rest of us — all the while trying to make us believe that they are on our side and are truly our friends.”

Uh, no, they are not. Make no mistake here. The One percent are NOT our friends. Never have been. Never will be.

“And the wicked carried us away…captivity.”

According to Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren who also spoke today, the One Percent’s philosophy, in one sentence, is “I’ve got mine — but you are on your own.” Why would we want to give the rich and powerful even more power and more money? “We don’t run this country for corporations. We run it for people.”

And then another free lunch was offered to us conventioneers. I’m so there!

“On 9-11,” said one firefighters’ union rep at an afternoon panel presentation, “it wasn’t the bankers running up those stairs. It was government workers there saving lives.”

In my own personal opinion, stuff like Wall Street deregulation and the Koch brothers and ALEC and Citizens Untied are the worst things that have ever happened to America’s freedom. These oligarchs’ highly-planned and highly-coordinated attacks on our laws, freedoms and way of life have been far more disastrous, far scarier and far more EFFECTIVE than 9-11 ever was.

There are also many massive and coordinated attacks on unions these days. And on women. And on people of color. And response to these attacks has been for us to viciously begin fighting each other for crumbs falling off these rich men’s tables. How American is that!

So. How do we now unite together instead of fighting each other? “Let’s organize around universal similarities,” one panelist said. We all love our families (at least most of us do) and we all have to eat. We all have emotions. We all need to breathe clean air and send our kids to school. “So mix all that up and come out with some common denominators that we can all rally behind.” We all love a good free lunch. Would that do for a start?

Americans of all colors and shapes and sizes have so much more in common with each other than we do with those few oligarchs who are currently spending billions of dollars on trying to turn us against one another. Come on guys. Get a clue! Kumbayah here! Everyone — every one of us — wants the American Dream. So let’s work together to get it back.

“Let the words of our mouth and the meditations in our hearts… WE’VE GOT TO SING TOGETHER!” Or the wicked will continue to “carry us away…captivity”. For sure.

So let’s “Sing a song of Freedom!” instead.

PS: This evening the AFT is offering a presentation of the movie, “American Teacher,” and then I’ll be taking the bus back to my sweet little room at the Warwick Motel 6 where I can listen to the people in the neighboring room fight and make up all night long.

And tomorrow Paul Krugman, Sherrod Brown and Van Jones will be speaking. Then on Sunday Netroots Nation will have a day of service and join the mayor of Providence in trudging around some kind of swamp, cleaning up garbage. And will they feed us? Yes they will!

For more from Jane Stillwater visit her blog @


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3 thoughts on “By the Rivers of Babylon: More Netroots Nation reports”
  1. Of course we all have more in common with each other and should be working together. Hasn’t it always been that way?

    And yet, we will most likely continue to allow others to insert wedges between us that keep us from organizing and being effective.

  2. Sometimes, by some great magical stream of consciousness, like the sun splitting through a dark cloud, America does come together as one. When it does, the results are truly glorious. I don’t know what causes this union of thought, but history has shown us that it’s so. Sometimes, we step forward and abandon our murderous ways. If we had not, there would be no civil rights; at all. There would be no Statue of Liberty beckoning for the tired, the forsaken, the suppressed and the hungry. There would be no child labor laws. Sometimes we remember, but so often we forget just what made America great to begin with. It’s standing together when we know what is right, determined to correct what is wrong. Organizations like Netroots will be the ray of sunshine that cracks through the clouds.

  3. I used to be of the “come-together” cloth. Then, I woke up and saw that others were working against my interests and telling me they were with me.

    As a Latina and a woman, I would love to work with all of you and make this a strong, united America; but there are those working very hard behind the scenes to remove my rights, as in the right:

    * to equal pay
    * to decide if I want to carry a fetus full term
    * to have my family here in this country
    * to walk down the street without being racially profiled
    * to voice my opinion
    * to privacy in my own house

    There are so many invasions on my rights as a citizen of the U.S. that I wonder why I should trust anyone. And some of the folks telling me to unite with them are the ones trying to destroy these rights. In fact, they are vying for my vote.

    I have learned long ago to keep a careful eye on those who ask me to “trust them.” No offense, but I have learned that if I trust myself, I never let myself down.

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