Shortly after occupiers were evicted from Liberty Square/Zuccotti Park on Nov. 14, 2011, I wrote an article about the importance of activist endurance. To follow are excerpts from that article… to help keep such sentiments alive:
“Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts.”
– William S. Burroughs, (from “A Thanksgiving Prayer,” 1988)
We must endure because we live in a society where people who volunteer to feed the homeless are openly tear-gassed by the army of the affluent.
We must endure because one of the richest men on the planet can freely order his mercenaries to toss 5,000 books in a trash compactor.
We must endure because when NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg explains how “health and safety conditions became intolerable,” he’s not talking about Manhattan having the third-highest cancer risk (per million) caused by airborne chemicals of all counties in the United States.
We must endure because when that same billionaire bully decries a local “fire safety hazard,” he’s not talking about the Indian Point nuclear reactor, only about 40 miles from where he unleashed shock and awe upon OWS.
“Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison. Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger.”
We must endure because the myriad atrocities perpetrated by a billionaire bully are absolutely nothing new. Such criminal behavior is part and parcel of a long line of officially sanctioned red-white-and-blue deception. For chrissake, even the name “America” can trace its roots to sheer deceit.
Amerigo Vespucci was a Florentine merchant-adventurer. His self-generated claims as an explorer and as the first white man to reach the mainland of America in June 1497 have long been in dispute due to the geographically unfeasible distances and positions quoted in his letters. While it is widely accepted he made at least two voyages to the Americas, he was not the leader of any expedition and was not the first European of his era to set foot on the mainland.
America: named after a self-hyping fraud? It’s just too f***kin’ perfect.
“Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin, leaving the carcasses to rot. Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes.”
The literal and rhetorical assault on OWS is standard operating procedure. We’ve always been fed fables to justify aggression: the sinking of the Maine, the expected surprise of Pearl Harbor, invisible torpedoes in the Tonkin Gulf, and Iraqi soldiers ripping imaginary babies from Kuwaiti incubators.
In response to these and other yarns, the War Department becomes the Department of Defense (sic), missiles become peacekeepers, and “Apache” helicopters are unselfconsciously sent to quell (alleged) ethnic cleansing.
Incendiary bombs fall over Dresden and Tokyo, atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, depleted uranium over Iraq and Yugoslavia (and Vieques), daisy cutters over Afghanistan, and, of course, the people of Vietnam are introduced to the smell of napalm in the morning. Meanwhile, criminals like Kissinger and Obama win Nobel Peace Prizes.
Is it any surprise that the NYPD is free to move in like thugs under the cover of night?
“Thanks for the KKK; for nigger-killin’ lawmen, feelin’ their notches; for decent church-goin’ women, with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces.”
We must endure because history tells us of an internal document, written in 1948 by George Kennan, head of the US State Department planning staff in the early post-war period. A document that explained the 1% global strategy:
“We have about 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population… In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction … We should cease to talk about vague and … unreal objectives as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”
“Thanks for ‘Kill a Queer for Christ’ stickers. Thanks for Prohibition and the war against drugs.”
We must endure because Founding Father, John Jay — America’s first Supreme Court Chief Justice and namesake of a college of criminology (oh, the irony) located on the island of Manhattan — once proudly declared his belief that America should be governed by “the people who own it.”
One might imagine if Mr. Jay were alive today, he’d be quite pleased with the way things have turned out.
Therefore, we have no choice but to endure.
“Thanks for a country where nobody’s allowed to mind the own business. Thanks for a nation of finks.”
We must endure because Thanksgiving approaches — roughly 400 years of bullshit in the making. The first Thanksgiving probably didn’t take place on the fourth Thursday in November and maybe not in November at all. It was not an annual Pilgrim event and not necessarily tied to the fall (in 1623, it may have taken place in July). Even calling it the “first” is a goddamned lie. Eastern Indians had observed harvest celebrations for centuries.
“Thanks for the American dream: to vulgarize and to falsify until the bare lies shine through.”
The Pilgrims didn’t wear buckles on their shoes, hats, or clothing. As for the legend that they found a large stone at Plymouth Rock and carved in the date 1620, there is no mention of it in any historical account. Also left unmentioned is an epidemic (most likely Smallpox introduced by European visitors) that dwarfed the Black Plague in scope. From 1616-1619, between 90 and 96 percent of the inhabitants of southern New England were wiped out. The land subsequently “found” by the Pilgrims was empty by design.
We must endure in support of and solidarity with indigenous peoples everywhere.
“Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.”
President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. By 1939, in a move designed to stimulate a Christmas shopping “season,” FDR set the fourth Thursday in November as the official date — yet another reason why we must endure.
If we don’t endure and continue to fight, how many shopping days do we really have left?
Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recently Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism.