Sunday, November 27, 2011

Brutalizing Peaceful Protesters Is NOT Doing Anyone a Favor

In response to a nationwide crackdown against peaceful, political protesters, two well-known liberal pundits (one of them the revered Paul Krugman) portrayed the evictions as a net positive. The movement - according to these pundits - was in danger of fizzling out over a long Winter and therefore, the police did the protesters a "favor" for which the protesters "should be grateful."

Are you fucking kidding me? Local police forces - recently militarized as a result of the War on Terror - pepper sprayed, beat and brutalized peaceful protesters. The first effective protest in decades is being forcefully - no, brutally! - suppressed and you're telling hundreds of thousands of readers it's probably for the best? Did you see this?

The sane response to this is to tell your readers to watch these videos, to call the persons responsible, to take to the streets. But instead, you've implicitly told them it's not really a big deal because it's actually doing the protesters a favor. It's not quite pointing out pepper is a table condiment, but it's not helpful either.

The bottom line is this: Well-meaning liberals haven't had a clue how to effect real political change or even, for that matter, to change the heretofore insane national dialogue. I'm not exactly sure why Occupy Wall Street has been so effective, but I do think physical occupation has something to do with it. Looking on the bright side and expressing no alarm when the tactic of occupation is brutally suppressed by militarized police forces suggests that Krugman and Klein think the tactic is beside the point.

We should never act nonchalant in the face of police brutality and suppression of First Amendment Rights, but, in this case, there's also a tactical dimension: And, in that regard, the assumption that occupation is of little importance is a dubious, unsupported assumption. The tactic matters and the suppression of the tactic is a threat to the movement.

Update: I had a twitter exchange with Digby wherein she noted - correctly - that Krugman and Klein are not equally culpable here. I would've liked to see more outrage from Krugman and I think he underestimates the importance of occupation as a tactic as well as the difficulty of re-establishing an occupation at a later date, but Krugman clearly supports OWS. Nonetheless, where Krugman sees the biggest problem as the potential to fade away, I see suppression as at least as threatening (and seeing militarized police forces unleash on peaceful protesters is freaking me out). However, make sure to follow the links above so that you can judge for yourself. (Krugman's link is "should be grateful.")

Update 2: By the way, here's the appropriate response to police brutalizing human beings for exercising their constitutional rights:

Anyone who commits violence against a defenseless person is lost. And the powers that be in this country are lost. They’ve been going down this road for years now, and they no longer stand for anything.

All that tricked-up military gear, with that corny, faux-menacing, over-the-top Spaceballs stormtrooper look that police everywhere seem to favor more and more – all of this is symbolic of the increasingly total lack of ideas behind all that force.

It was bad enough when we made police defend the use of torture and extrajudicial detention. Now they’re being asked to defend mass theft, Lloyd Blankfein’s bailout-paid bonus, the principle of Angelo Mozilo not doing jail time, and 28% credit card interest rates.

How strong can anyone defending those causes be? These people are weak and pathetic, and they’re getting weaker. And boy, are they showing it. Way to gear up with combat helmets and the the full body armor, fellas, to take on a bunch of co-eds sitting Indian-style on a campus quad. Maybe after work you can go break up a game of duck-duck-goose at the local Chuck E Cheese. I’d bring the APC for that one.

Bravo to those kids who hung in there and took it. And bravo for standing up and showing everyone what real strength is. There is no strength without principle. You have it. They lost it. It’s as simple as that.


  1. thanks for pointing out how ludicrous the sentiiment was. i was sick to death of reading it, the same everywhere, as if the pundits, the journalists, etc. were, themselves, simply bored of it all.

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