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Saul Alinsky told us there'd be days like this.

by Adrien Rain Burke Thursday, Aug. 19, 2004 at 2:43 PM

Government-approved and -directed marches will always end in some shameful pen.

Subject: Saul Alinsky told us there'd be days like this.

Mayor Bloomberg's statement that free speech is a "privilege" which we could

lose, is a sad indication of the state of our civics education, and a

sinister clue to his political intentions. It is sad that he probably

believes it, and that, in spite of his ignorance of our rights, he has come

so far in politics. And it is sinister that he would threaten us with curtailing our rights.

Resident Bush and his merry imperialists have never been renowned for

brilliance, and their stupidity has landed us all in a heap of military

misery which promises to drag us down for years, but for once we can say

that Bush&Co are way ahead of this guy. The Patriot Act - which blatantly

aims at stripping Americans of their had-won rights and freedoms - was not

the product of minds unaware of the Bill of Rights and its implications,

but of authoritarians bent on destroying them.

From our government's actions abroad, we can clearly gauge their contempt

for democracy - kidnapping and overthrowing elected heads of

state, killing reporters and bombing the buildings they work in, shutting

down newspapers and forbidding the display of pictures of certain former

leaders, and indulging in midnight raids and imprisonment without charge. They write memos carefully trying to separate permissable physical stress from torture, and approving the use of attack dogs and sleep deprivation in the course of "interrogations." They push persistently at the limits the Constitution so deliberately placed on government abroad and at home.

With this behavior to reason from, it shouldn't surprise us that so many of

them have a jaundiced view of freedom here, too. The neocons' favorite

philosopher, Leo Strauss, is straghtforward in his scorn for the "masses"

and recommends rule through deception and manipulation.

But the peace movement has to take some blame for this. In their desperation

to prove their own loyalty and lawfulness, dissident political groups have

been all too willing to negotiate away their freedoms - OUR freedoms - with

little dictators like Bloomberg, seeking state-approved routes for protest

marches, and official approval for the use of public spaces. Whatever laws

authoritarians have attempted to paper over the Bill of Rights with,

permission to demonstrate is not theirs to grant or withhold.

Once granted the privilege of deciding where we may march, who knows what

abandoned industrial park or out-of-the-way alley they will find for us to

parade in? The results of such mild-mannered docility were glaringly

apparent in Boston, where the "free speech zone" was a dismal razorwire

enclosure, under some derelict construction, where protestors could neither

hand out literature, nor avail themselves of loudspeakers, nor gather in

numbers of more than a thousand - a paltry number compared to the many who

sought recognition for grievances unaddressed by either political party in

this crucial election year.

Saul Alinsky* told us there'd be days like this.

In Boston, that birthplace of freedom, the right of the people to assemble

was openly mocked. Now it is being talked away, its legitimacy denigrated.

We have been far too governable; we have been ridiculed, and we have been

silenced through marginalization. But FIRST we agreed to abide by their

dictates, however unfair. The mechanics of power always tends toward tyranny

- that was the lesson of Paine and Jefferson and the rest. Be careful as you strive for legitimacy: government-approved and -directed marches will always end in some shameful pen.

Adrien Rain Burke

* see Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals"


>"One more such victory and we are undone."

>>– Pyrrhus of Epirus

Art Kills. Want to Quit?

And remember, just because YOU survived art school, doesn't mean

your children will.

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