Editor’s Note: This is the latest article by Marlana Eck. Marlana is the founder and editor of the brand-spanking-new publication, Lehigh Valley Vanguard, a progressive visual and literary publication based out of Easton. The Lehigh Valley Vanguard is sponsored by Raging Chicken Press. Thanks to the support of our members and contributors, here is a concrete example of what we can do with your support! Please check out the Lehigh Valley Vanguard!
A few weeks ago, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and a room full of people showed the condition of my “Millennial” peers and I quite clearly.
Young citizens – identified as “university students” by most news outlets to conjure up, perhaps, images of anarchists and flag burning liberals to help drive the conflict narrative that sells ad space – protested at a town meeting being held by Christie. The Governor’s response? He told the young citizens to “either sit down and be quiet or get out. We’re done with you.” Or, as many of us whippersnappers might say GTFO (Get the Fuck Out).
The most disturbing part of this scene was when these young citizens were “escorted” out. Everyone in the room applauded and resumed their captivated stupor.
Why do I care about this? It’s an opportunity to reopen my case against the American public.
Let’s review: citizens were expressing unrest in order to be heard in a room full of people. They were participating in government – you know, that thing that people say young people don’t do. They were obviously staging an act of creative protest. If there is unrest, why hide it? That’s supposed to happen in democratic undertakings.
That is even how it is supposed to happen in a republic, which is what we, as lip service, have: representatives speaking in our interest.
What we actually have is a corporatocracy, which is not run by citizens at all but a few people who have capital. So it’s unsettling, at least to me, when Chris Christie, is applauded for telling young citizens to shut up, while ignorant, politically asleep people sit in the audience like they’ve been sprinkled with stardust, telling Christie he should be the President. That’s who I want for my president. Someone who tells me to shut my fucking mouth and get out because he is “cranky.” Cranky is a word we use to describe a child before bed time. Cranky is a disgruntled muppet.
More likely people are suffering from a kind of Stockholm syndrome. Bruce Levine does a great job at explaining the implications in his book Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite:
…victims believe it is more likely they will be harmed if they defiantly hate their abusers. Thus, since compliance feels safer, there is an incentive for victims to convince themselves that their abuser is a protector whom they should have affection for. This justifies their compliance.
We no longer try to change our predicament. The fox can’t reach the grapes so he declares they must be sour.
The people who are tough are those who have been under-served for a lifetime and who keep getting kicked in the ass more by the people who we can call modern day slave owners. The people who are tough are people who are being harassed by state-run student lending agencies who are garnishing their wages while they are hustling 2-3 jobs trying to pay bills after getting hammered with taxes and credit card fees. These people are not apathetic because they don’t care, they are apathetic because they are beaten up and in pain.
For the people who are part of that class, to still go to a meeting and articulate their frustration with political corruption, the same kind that is taxing their livelihood and selling them into indentured servitude by not protecting them with laws against things like predatory lending…that’s a big deal.
I hope more of us will get our strength up and stand up. Even when we have been medicated by the TV. The TV, which exists so that we won’t go completely insane and kill ourselves. So, we stay part of the machine, but not much else.
This reminds me of a talk I had with a confidant in my senior year of college. I was having some transitional relationship issues and I was having a hard time letting go of a longtime attachment. My friend told me something that made the transition easier for me, as I usually have to fully understand something before taking action. He said, “he gives you just enough to keep you hanging on but nothing else.” That’s where America is right now. We get just enough to keep from having a complete psychotic break.
Recently, even MoveOn, a progressive activist group is facing a lawsuit for their work opposing a senator’s plan to cut health care for people in need. The impending lawsuit is for almost $300,000. Law is frequently used as an oppressive tactic, as we see in an entire generation of workers now oppressed by a heavy debt load of sometimes over $50,000. We also saw this tactic used against Aaron Swartz last year and witnessed his end at the hands of ruthless government trying to make an example out of someone. Keith Werhan, a Constitutional Law Professor at Tulane University Law School said last week: “The government can’t legally silence those who are criticizing them.” But that doesn’t mean they are not trying.
They are trying to make this the norm. A norm where we know something is wrong but we’ve become so used to it we don’t know what to do anymore.
Don’t be complacent. Don’t take to side of the oppressor. More importantly, don’t become the oppressor; whether it’s keeping others down, or (unconsciously) yourself.
There is joy in opposition. As Bruce Levine put it,
Great morale builders are often risk takers. They themselves are energized by challenging authority and speaking truth to power. They have faith that the current reality is not permanent. They are often mischievous, humorous, irreverent, outrageous, imaginative, unpredictable, and capable of creating energizing drama.