The police have been busy doing a CYA after removing Cindy Sheehan and Beverly Young, wife of Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young (R-Fla.) from the floor during the President’s State of the Union address (apparently, another foreign born American citizen was also removed, for unclear reasons, perhaps for that alone). As Cindy Sheehan’s personal statement makes clear, the Capitol police have a hair trigger when it comes to any type of “protestor” (I bet the Congressman’s wife wasn’t treated that way, and she definitely was not arrested)… that the Emperor has no clothes must not be mentioned.
That said, as Beverly Young discovered, suppression of one type of political expression rapidly becomes suppression of all forms of expression, in the name of “order”.
Mrs. Young was sitting about six rows from first lady Laura Bush and asked to leave. She argued with police in the hallway outside the House chamber.
“They said I was protesting,” she told the St. Petersburg Times. “I said, “Read my shirt, it is not a protest.’ They said, ‘We consider that a protest.’ I said, ‘Then you are an idiot.’”
Blowback. Hopefully, a few more people on both sides of the ailse will wake up and smell the coffee as a result.
Of course, it would help if the actions of our representatives in Congress reflected the true level of discontent and inner division within the country; pretending that everything is normal, and going along with polite conventions, is no longer appropriate. Why no protest or other sign of dissatisfaction from other members of Congress during the state of the union address? Politeness and respect for the office must go by the wayside, when the man holding it fails to respect convention and decorum and standards of conduct himself, and instead disgraces it.
If I were in Congress, I would have held a press conference the next day, announcing my intention to engage in direct action and potential civil disobedience at the next available opportunity, and wearing a t-shirt with a message against the war in Iraq – one that I would wear onto the floor for the next week, especially if I knew I’d be on CSPAN.
The lack of institutional reaction demonstrates that the members of the Democratic Party sitting in Congress still don’t get the scale of the threat facing the nation. To them, more or less, it is still business as usual. I doubt that the phrase, “incipient fascism” has even crossed most of their minds. Really, by this point, if the Democratic Party had a pulse, there would be Congressfolk out protesting in front of the White House daily, getting arrested for civil disobedience, and generally expressing their grave concern and great dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs in the most emphatic way possible… making the level of dissent and rancour so obvious, that even the mass media couldn’t pretend to ignore it.
Instead, we have a bunch of genial, bland, gutless wonders issuing press releases and making polite statements of opposition, but who are unwilling to take it to the next level; Sam Farr (D-Santa Cruz), my representative in Congress, is an excellent example of this. He’s a nice guy, very sincere, votes right on 90% of the issues, but is never out on front on anything national – very constituent service focused. Fine, perhaps, during normal times, but not at all appropriate when facing a crisis of this magnitude; Santa Cruz should be at the forefront of the anti-war movement, but instead, the political establishment here has largely followed his lead, and stayed out of the headlines.
We need Cindy Sheehan (or the like) in Congress, for exactly this reason – I wish she was running for Congress against some lame House member (Tom Lantos?), where she had a real chance of winning, instead of for Senate against DiFi (which everyone presumes is pretty much going to be a purely symbolic act). There shouldn’t be a single pro-war Democrat in this Congress that goes without a primary challenge. Hell, even the “anti-war” ones should be challenged on their level of activism on this issue. Where is the peace movement?!?
Where is the dissent – do folks really not realize the scale of the catastrophe that is Iraq… setting aside the toll in dead and injured soldiers (tens of thousands), which I think the peace movement focuses on to it’s detriment (everyone winds up comparing the numbers to the 50,000 fatalities experienced in Vietnam, and thinks, comparatively, that things aren’t so bad), is $1 trillion down the drain a number so unreal, that it just can’t be grasped? Bluntly, far more lives have been lost at home (think fatalities in underfunded emergency rooms, drug overdoses, untreated medical conditions, etc. etc.) than in Iraq, as a result of the war. This is a fundamental mistake on the part of the peace movement: all politics is local; the closer to home the effects of the war can be seen, the more motivated people are to get involved.
… and what about all of us? The streets should be boiling… we all know that the powers that be won’t act, until they feel their control over the situation and the system is threatened, until the streets are so restive that the possibility of “anarchy” becomes real, and they begin fearing for their personal fortunes and the economic and social stability of the nation. Maybe we should blog a little less, and spend a little more time creating media friendly protest events, or dogging our elected representatives in public about taking a stand?