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#OccupyWallStreet Is More Than a Hashtag. It’s Revolution in Formation. PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Nathan Schneider   
Thursday, 29 September 2011 08:27

(Editor’s note: A related commentary, “Wall Street Vs. Everybody,” can be found here.)

Police Guard Wall Street Bull Duing Occupy Wall Street. [Photo by Jim Kiernan. More Occupy Wall Street photos available at his Flickr stream here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimkiernan/sets/72157627569399583/]

A lot of what you’ve probably seen or read about the #occupywallstreet action is wrong, especially if you’re getting it on the Internet. The action started as an idea posted online, and word about it then spread and is still spreading, online. But what makes it really matter now is precisely that it is happening offline, in a physical, public space, live and in person. That’s where the occupiers are assembling the rudiments of a movement.

 
Wall Street Vs. Everybody PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Linh Dinh   
Thursday, 29 September 2011 07:37

(Editor’s note: A related commentary, “#OccupyWallStreet Is More Than a Hashtag. It’s Revolution in Formation,” can be found here.)

An Occupy Wall Street protester in front of three police officers. Photo by Linh Dinh.

Wall Street got drunk […] It got drunk and now it’s got a hangover.” – George W. Bush

As usual, Bush got it wrong. Wall Street soberly and cynically got the rest of us drunk on dreams of home ownership, a robust stock portfolio, and a cozy retirement. This slurry bacchanal was fueled by the housing bubble and, when that exploded in our faces, bailouts saved Wall Street from any hangover, so it’s us who will suffer through a torturous, decades-long headache of a ruined economy.

But who are us, exactly? Us are the poor and the middle class, unions, retirement funds, and governments at all levels – federal, state, and city. Us are 99 percent, according to the mostly young protesters at Liberty Park in New York City. (Dubbed “Occupy Wall Street,” this encampment in the financial district began on September 17 and, until videos of police brutality hit the Web, had gone largely unreported in the mainstream media.)

Nearly everyone got ripped off, including the cops guarding these protesters. As a protest sign sweetly and innocently demands: “Say Sorry! To All of Us!”

 
Constitution Day: Is the Bill of Rights Dead? PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 05:39

For all intents and purposes, the Constitution is on life support and has been for some time now.

Those responsible for its demise are none other than the schools, which have failed to educate students about its principles; the courts, which have failed to uphold the rights enshrined within it; the politicians, who long ago sold out to corporations and special interests; and “we the people,” who, in our ignorance and greed, have valued materialism over freedom.

We can pretend that the Constitution, which was written to hold the government accountable and was adopted on September 17, 1787, is still our governing document. However, the reality we must come to terms with is that in the America we live in today, the government does whatever it wants. And the few of us who actively fight to preserve the rights enshrined in the Constitution (a group whose numbers continue to shrink) do so knowing that in the long run we may be fighting a losing battle.

A review of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution shows that the Bill of Rights may well be dead.

 
Ten Years After 9/11: Have We Become the Enemy of Freedom? PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 11:18
We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine; and remember that we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular. This is no time for men ... to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities.” – Edward R. Murrow, March 9, 1954

When the World Trade Center crumbled to the ground on September 11, 2001, it took with it any illusions Americans might have harbored about the nation’s invincibility, leaving many feeling vulnerable, scared and angry. Yet in that moment of weakness, while most of us were still reeling from the terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of some 3,000 Americans, we managed to draw strength from and comfort each other.

Suddenly, the news was full of stories of strangers helping strangers and communities pulling together. Even the politicians put aside their partisan pride and bickering and held hands on the steps of the Capitol, singing “God Bless America.” The rest of the world was not immune to our suffering, acknowledging the fraternity of nations against all those who take innocent lives in a campaign of violence. United against a common enemy, inconceivable hope rising out of the ashes of despair, we seemed determined to work toward a better world.

Sadly, that hope was short-lived.

 
When Martin Luther King Reached the Point of No Return PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Friday, 26 August 2011 09:12
I have begun the struggle and I can’t turn back. I have reached the point of no return." – Martin Luther King Jr.

The official dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial was scheduled to take place on Sunday, August 28, the 48th anniversary of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. (Because of Hurricane Irene, it has been delayed until September or Octorber.) If anyone deserves a national monument in his honor, it would certainly be Martin Luther King Jr., a man who inspired countless Americans, including myself, to take a stand against injustice.

King was an amazing individual: courageous, passionate about freedom, willing to tackle large-scale issues (such as materialism, militarism, and the Vietnam War), and relentless in his pursuit of justice; he stood his ground, even in the face of death threats and opposition from friends and associates. A warrior and a visionary, King saw firsthand what tyranny looked like and worked tirelessly to oppose it. As King observed, “The universe is on the side of justice.”

 
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