July 24, 2012 : Brand America Violence and the Occupy Response
As Aurora (and America) begin the agonizing, slow process of recovery from the weekend's mass trauma inflicted on the community, at least one Occupy takes official action, as Occupy OC (Orange County) says it will not protest Mitt Romney's third fundraising trip there. On previous occasions, Mitt has cleaned up, and this trip should be no exception, with guests offering up to $50,000 per couple, not unlike the Prez' take at similar affairs.
The Occupy OC site carries a statement saying : “We choose to show solidarity with our thoughts directed toward the tragedy of Aurora, Colorado. Future protest will be announced." huffpost
In the aftermath of yet another crazed gunman using advanced, military weaponry and techniques to slaughter innocents, mainstream media rush to investigate and - most of all - provide the terrifying details. They know the vicarious livin', thrill-seeking public will eat it up. Well, enough of them will.
Occupy wants a better society and views the current system as bankrupt, figuratively and literally. A test for occupies everywhere will be the challenge to match word to deed and address the complex societal issue of unique, “Brand America violence.” It's a topic addressed by multiple commentators. Michael Moore offered an animated explanation, featured in his Academy Award winning Bowling for Columbine (video above).
Gun control, of any kind, is resolutely off the table and in a culture in which unexpected violence can explode, literally, at any second, the prospect of unilateral disarmament is scary. After all, facing such terrifying prospects, shouldn't we all stay armed to the teeth. Still, the likelihood of a heavily armed individual/society acting as a deterrent to a calculating, determined psychopath seem remote. As Michael Caine says of Heath Ledger's terrifying Joker in the first Dark Knight: “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” And since there's no 1% superhero like Bruce Wayne to save us from the Joker...can Occupy do it? How?
Commentators like Henry Giroux pile on dense layers of sociological analysis beyond most yet underscores a basic point : ours is, right now, a society in which violence remains a primary currency. And are those of us tuning in to the coverage just encouraging it?
Or, in Giroux's more educated language : “Representations of violence dominate the media and often parade before viewers less as an object of critique than as a for-profit spectacle, just as the language of violence now shapes our political discourse.” Er, exactly! Truthout.org
Ross Douthat gets into the, how shall we say, “fascistic” message/politics of the Dark Knight series, alluded to in the previous installment somewhat more subtly (full disclosure : we've yet to see “Rises”). But he blogs that the analysis has been taken too far by some commentators (for example O'Hehir's Salon review) nytimes
Robert Soave takes blowhard Limbaugh to task for calling the movie “liberal.” The writer regards such a view as dense, given the premise and plot of the film dailycaller
So what's the Occupy response? To remain relevant, addressing these types of societal conundrums must be on the agenda. This space as always will monitor the response.
File under : oh, it's like that there too? How does one meet/respond to violence? A second Israeli protester, Akiva Mafa'i, 45, sets himself on fire at a bus station outside of Tel Aviv. According to the man's brother, despair over debt and an inability to be treated fairly as a Veteran lead to the suicide. The act is seen as being inspired by the original self-immolation which took place at an Occupy Jerusalem event.
“The army loves you under the ground, but doesn't love you after you're injured.”
The action first came to prominence when Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc did so in Saigon, in 1963, to protest abuses of the US-backed Diem regime. The event is famously captured by photographer Malcolm Browne in a pulitzer-prize winning photo.
The contrast between differing responses to violence whether brought by the state or the deeds of the loner psychopath appears to emerge in Occupy New Hampshire, where “Free Staters” who carry guns to occupy protests have apparently inspired some of the original occupiers to break off and form their own non-profit.
Mark Provost of Manchester, one of the five directors of the newly created nonprofit, said Occupy’s mission and that of the Free State Project cannot co-exist. And seeing guns at Occupy events have made some Occupiers nervous. Freekeene.com
File under : Kind of Like the Way You Can't Count Making Out as Having Sex Our own obsession with power rankings as we come into the 2012 Occupy season leads us to do immature things like “keep score,” so naturally, we can't fault daily news for doing the same. Still their methodology may be suspect. Blowout! trumpets today's News, who boast of Manhattan DA's latest wins :
Manhattan DA — 1,278
OWS — 166
As is often the case, News is confident readers will remember the headline, and, you know, forget the facts – which happen to be printed below in the article.
In this instance, the News throws “753 adjournments in 'adjourned for contemplation of dismissal' into the Manhattan DA tally. However, this legal term means the case is dismissed if the defendant merely “stays out of trouble,” i.e. avoids itchy NYPD for the next months. Since it's likely most of them will, the overwhelming numbers shift to the OWS side. So we see little chance of Manhattan DA improving it's standing in the power rankings. Sorry guys! Daily News
Finally, Publishers Weekly talks with editor Janet Byrne who managed to put The Occupy Handbook, featuring the work and essays of numerous commentators, together in just 6 months.
When asked working on this book changed your opinion of the Occupy movement? Byrne lets on :
“I went into the project with a respect for the organizers and an almost visceral identification with the movement's aims. Six months with the subject has deepened both feelings.” publishersweekly.com
Updates for this space should be sent to UWS Press