We are at that point where the dawn finds the land; it appears as only a sliver of light and yet, the hopeful among us can see it growing. It is a dawn filled with terrible ecstasy, where the best that is inside of us confronts the worst that is inside of us. We must face ourselves and our peers and our time and attempt what many once thought impossible just a year or so ago. We must attempt to wrestle the sword from the hand of the warlord, a task of dark brutal beauty and Dame Necessity.
If we fail, if we were to turn away, we would abandon ourselves and our children to a world which rather than being enlightened by science is perverted by it. We would give over to Frankenstein’s monster the keys to the kingdom. The days of masturbatory Lee Greenwood patriotism are over; I’m not proud to be an American, I’m ashamed to be an American.
“Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.” – Mark Twain
I have written about my grandfather before and the currents and eddies of time suggest that I should tell it again, because he is in many ways my idol, and because he too, faced down dark times. He was a union organizer and a shop steward, and once while his union was out on strike he was arrested three times in a single week on the picket line and was once beaten into unconsciousness by police. He struck and walked the picket line with a wife and seven children at home. He had problems at home because of his union duties and some of his children never really forgave him for what they saw as daddy choosing the union over his own family.
Instead, he was a man who saw over the dark horizon, he was fighting a battle which was larger than himself; he was not fighting for himself. All he ever got out of the deal was a strong union, a pension and a bronze casket. He was fighting for people that he would never know and for children who would never understand him. His children couldn’t understand him because he had changed the world in which they lived, so much, that they took for granted their easy lifestyle.
Last Friday night Kayvan Sabeghi was beaten bloody by police on the streets of Oakland California.
“They told me to move, but I was like; “Move to where?” Sabeghi later recalled. “There was nowhere to move. Then they lined up in front of me. I was talking to one of them, saying “why are you doing this?” when one of them moved forward and hit me in the arms and legs and back with his baton. Then three or four cops tackled me and arrested me.
After his beating Sabeghi was handcuffed and left inside a police van for three hours and by the time he reached the police station Sabeghi reported that he was in intense pain. He began vomiting and convulsed on the floor wracked with diarrhea, but when he complained and begged for help the police accused him of being a heroin addict. When Sabeghi’s sister posted his bail the following afternoon Kayvan Sabeghi was too weak to stand and too weak to move. He left his jail cell on a stretcher headed for the hospital. He was then rushed into emergency surgery to repair a ruptured spleen.
It shouldn’t matter that Kayvan Sabeghi had served two tours in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan before being beaten down on an American street. It only goes to illustrate and make more real the crisis we are truly facing; Sabeghi and fellow wounded veteran Scott Olson were our troops. You know, support our troops! God bless our boys, they’re America’s best. Yet when these brave men stand up to peacefully confront their government they are treated no differently than an ordinary Iraqi civilian. They are treated with total disrespect, treated with barked orders and commands to do as you are told or else.
These men are the first and sadly they will not be the last, there are going to be a many more of such incidents. We are headed for 1932 when riots in the streets of every major city in America were common place. In 1932, after 20,000 unemployed marched for jobs in Dearborn Michigan four were shot dead by police in the Dearborn massacre. In response, 70,000 marched three days later in their funeral procession. They took off their hats and sang as the International was played. These are the people who have been written out of America’s history books because the powers that be don’t want you to know their names.
“I don’t care who knows it, but I wish they’d killed a few thousand more of those rioters” – Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor
The corporate image makers wish to sell the comfortable illusion that everyone is happy in America and that only malcontents and trouble makers need protest. The civil rights movement endured these beatings, these murders, and these jail cells, but now, America looks back and says, “See? Isn’t it great? The system works.” No, hell is doesn’t, it proves the opposite, that the system doesn’t work. If it had worked there wouldn’t have been a need for a civil rights movement or a labor movement. We fight just as they fought, we fight naked power and that power is used to divides us. It is the power which chooses money over blood and tears, the power which has no humanity or love in it.
“In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.”- Mark Twain
Kayvan Sabeghi and Scott Olson are patriots in the truest since of the word. The Occupy protestors are patriots; they are no different than the troops at Valley Forge. There are a thousand and one individual reasons which bring these patriots to Freedom Plaza or Zuccotti Park or Oakland, Dallas or Philadelphia, but they all share that same true vision of America. They can all see or sense what is just over that dark horizon and we are all the better for it. Their spirits are alive and vital and they are unwilling to succumb to anything less than the full restoration of the American dream.
Winston Churchill gave a speech at Harrow school during the dark days of WW2, in which he said:
You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination. But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period – I am addressing myself to the School – surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished. All this tradition of ours, our songs, our school history, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated.
Very different is the mood today. Britain, other nations thought, had drawn a sponge across her slate. But instead our country stood in the gap. There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside these Islands, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer.
We must prepare ourselves mentally for what is ahead and brace ourselves for a long struggle. Call it a revolution or an evolution or change, call it what you will but always remember this is a battle for the soul of America. There is no tomorrow and there shall be no next time or second chance, we will all live in a free America or we shall all live in a Fascist America.
Only through unity and non-violence can we hope to achieve our goals, but we must also understand that the non-violence will be one sided. This is what the beatings and injuries of Kayvan Sabeghi and Scott Olson illustrate; that comfortable illusion of benevolent government is destroyed and the scales fall from our eyes and we see the beast as it truly exists. You are only free if you behave and do as you are told otherwise you must face the beast. The beast rules by fear and violence and when you begin to stand up to the beast it only knows more violence.
My grandfather’s union eventually won their strike; after management had tried coercion, deceit and violence and only then, after all of these tactics had failed, did the company begin to negotiate in good faith. These are great days to be alive; few generations have within their grasp the chance to change the world. The chance to bring peace and justice to the world, the chance to strike down perverted science and the chance to change something far greater than our own petty lives. We have a chance to help millions of men, women and children we will never know and a chance to make our own lives significant and worthy of praise.
“If voting really made a difference, they wouldn’t let you do it.” – Mark Twain
David Glenn Cox is a senior staff writer for TLR and an award winning author and musician; he is the author of the novel, The Servants of Pilate.