Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pepper Spraying Cop Iconized

As he was pepper spraying University of California Davis students, police lieutenant John Pike certainly could not have imagined that his torturous act would propel him to international infamy. Instead, he has become the psychopathic face of the corporate police state; so much so that his callous image as he is pepper spaying UC Davis students has become a meme – "a kind of folk art or shared visual joke that is open to sharing and reinterpretation by anyone" – which is growing with increasing momentum. Here are just a few examples of the creativity and beauty of the occupy movement with new images of the casually pepper spray everything cop keep popping up as people all over the world continue to paste Pike's instantly iconic figure into every type of imaginable scenery.

Friday, November 18, 2011

33K in NYC Nearly Silence Corporate Press

Last night I was at the OWS rally in Foley Square in downtown New York City and this is what I saw:

The square was packed with people, 32,650 according to official NYPD estimates. As a matter of fact, by the time I circled around City Hall and reached the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge there were still people left in the square who had not yet begun their symbolic encirclement of the City Hall block.

And yet, when this morning I searched for news of the event in the corporate press, I could barely find any mention of it. Most of today's coverage on yesterday's day of protest in NYC centers around the earlier disruption and arrests. If the rally is mentioned at all, it is done in a passing paragraph toward the bottom of the page and not one single outlet reports the NYPD crowd estimate. The most one is likely to see in terms of estimates is "thousands."

The New York Times, the city's newspaper of record, did not find the event worthy of front page news. This is how it covered the rally in less than a paragraph at the very bottom of an article on page A24:

At 5 p.m., thousands of protesters and members of about a dozen unions converged on Foley Square. “It’s magnificent,” Laurel Sturt, 55, who teaches elementary school in the Bronx, said as she gazed at the crowd. “All great movements of the past started like this.” (Cara Buckley, 200 Are Arrested As Protesters Clash With the Police, The New York Times, November 18, 2011)

The New Jersey Star-Ledger managed to acknowledge the rally with the headline "Thousands gather near Foley Square as Occupy Wall Street protests swell," except that it was not near Foley Square but in Foley Square.

A NY Post editorial while describing Foley Square as "full to overflowing," still managed to give a negative spin to the event, starting with the headline "Loud, but lame," and by writing
that "there were nowhere near the “tens of thousands” of demonstrators who were supposed to fan out across the five boroughs and convulse New York." Talking about lame, here is a precious piece of lame propaganda by in the same editorial which should be a candidate for the overstatement of the year:

Government employees in New York enjoy health-care and pension benefits that even millionaires might envy.

The near silence and the occasional disparaging propaganda of the corporate press is the clearest sign that the growth of OWS protests is starting to frighten the 1% and its corporate elites. Until now, protesters had been treated with a somewhat patronizing attitude, but now that our numbers are swelling and that the support for the protests is going mainstream, at least when it comes to labor, the corporate propaganda machine is gearing up for a smear campaign intended to discredit the movement.

This reaction was to be expected and, as I said, it is a positive development. As the movement continues to grow, the entrenched forces of corporate power will react more and more desperately and perhaps violently; in doing so, they will put their hypocrisy and contempt for democracy in full view and by the time next year comes around, they won't not even know what hit them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

To Serve and Protect the 1%

Today the NYPD decided to show the world on which side they are on; they decided to stand on the side of greed, because it is their narrow minded greed for a paycheck today that made them follow the immoral orders of Mayor (sic) Michael Bloomberg and evict and destroy the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti park. The NYPD decided that it was more important to uphold the interests of those billionaires who are pillaging the future of humanity rather than look a little further than their wallet and to the future of their own children, a future that those who are occupying Wall Street are trying to protect.

Had this happened at Tahrir Square, the corporate media would have been criticizing the undemocratic tactics of the Egyptian military, and this is how the duplicity of ideology comes in full view: what is possible and just in a dictatorship is strangely impossible and unjust in a so called democracy. This disconnect between reality and ideology is so glaring that very few people can muster the will to openly acknowledge it. To do so would undermine the entire ideological edifice upon which we stand and the moral void that such an act of honesty would produce is apparently too big for most people to bear. And so the 1%, in concert with the politicians and the corporate media, go on pretending that we live on a shining city on a hill while the 99% of the people have – for all practical purposes – lost the right to peacefully assemble as stated in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

The good news is that rather than stifling the movement, the latest autocratic action by Mayor (sic) Michael Bloomberg has shown the emptiness of his ideological platitudes: it was only three days ago when he boasted that NYC is "the freest city in the freest country in the world," and as the gulf between reality and the propaganda by the 1% widens we, the 99%, are more galvanized than ever; the more the 1% – as embodied by Bloomberg and protected by the NYPD – tries to stifle the movement, the more we will keep coming back in greater numbers until a more just and sustainable world is realized.