The Widening Gyre: In Which We Look Outside the Walls and Start to Ask Real Questions.
To begin, I didn't watch all the hubbub last night in Denver. I was, well, hell, I'm not sure. Just not planted in front of the TV. When they start paying me for this, then they can have me on the job 24/7. I did watch all of Hillary Clinton's speech off the magical Interweb this morning. Looks like she did a bang-up job for what the Dems expected of her. It was a good, strong speech, and she hit all the expected points and hit them well: uniting behind Obama, the middle class, families, health care, women's rights, slammed McCain adeptly. And she really engaged the crowd, eventually sending them into a frenzy with her invocation of Harriet Tubman's instructions to her charges on the Underground Railroad to "keep going" no matter what to reach freedom. This seems to be the pushing point of the Dems: the hopeful struggle towards the future, achieving the promise of America for everyone, children.
She also swept through a litany of cliches in the midst of it all. Not unsurprising, but still a bit unpalatable. And of course she harped on rights for everyone. I'm all behind that. But it's a bit tough to listen to that while knowing that outside the hall where Mrs. Clinton spoke protesters were having showdowns with riot squads. Mainstream media has touched little on this -- except for FOX's rather hilariously screwing with the "leftist" protesters, as they called them. It looked like a Daily Show piece. Sadly, people out there will see it as real news.
It started Monday when, according to Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman, police sprayed marchers with pepper spray and arrested 91. She quoted this witness:
"I’m Steve Nash with Denver CopWatch. We’re a police accountability group that observes the police, and tonight we watched protesters block the street about a block from here. It’s about fifty protesters in the street. The police came at them in riot gear from both sides and hemmed them in. Then they refused to let anybody out, including people who were just on the sidewalk in the group, who were not actually trying to block the street. I saw one older legal observer who begged for the police to let him out, and they refused. They pushed him back into the crowd. Then they donned their gas masks and began pushing the media and legal observers and the public a block away in each direction and in a very aggressive manner."
Goodman's report added that many of the police involved were not wearing visible identification as required by law. For an invocation from Bob Dylan (that should please the protesters): "The executioner's face is always well hid."
Tuesday apparently saw far fewer arrests, though The Denver Post reports -- with video evidence -- that a policeman knocked to the ground one woman who was asking him a question as he told her to "Back it up, bitch."
Of those swept up Monday, The Post writes,
"More than 100 people were arrested at Civic Center in a clash with police that began after officers entered the park and confronted demonstrators.
"Of those, 54 made bond, 13 pleaded guilty in return for a sentence of time served, nine pleaded guilty and were ordered to pay a fine, and 28 were dismissed by the court, said Lt. Ron Saunier, a Denver Police Department spokesman.
"The four remaining behind bars had warrants against them from various jurisdictions."
The protesters seem to be a motley mix of groups -- many of them anti-war and pro-democracy. But they seem to be operating under an umbrella organizaiton called DNC Disruption '08.
According to the group's website, this looks like a decently organized week of protest actions. (You can read the schedule on their site.)
Tomorrow, they plan to have an immigrants' rights march -- which I imagine will be the only mention for this issue beyond the typical, hokey -- and minimal -- lip service from inside the convention hall. HRC did mutter in her speech that we are a "nation of immigrants and of laws." That portends no sign of the change the Dems keep promising, just more of the middle-of-the-road pandering to the enforcement heads.
Obviously, immigration is a touchy subject to bring up in this election -- particularly confusing now because Obama and McCain have not really distinguished themselves on it recently. McCain of course co-sponsored with Sen. Kennedy one of the immigration bills that almost passed last year -- but that contained the infamous 'path to citizenship' that infuriates conservatives, so be sure he won't mention it.
But nor would it be advantageous for Obama to bring it up since he's made no strides on the issue in any noticeable way in either direction. But with the Dems continuing to spew rhetoric about loving the working class, that the American dream is for all of us not just the privileged few, that, as HRC said, there are "no limits to what is possible in America" -- and that the Dems believe in everyone's rights, as they keep reminding us with repeated history lessons on Civil and Women's Rights, I want to hear something about this issue. Yes, it would take some bravery, but that's what they keep telling us they have now, these people of the Democratic Party. And that's what they keep asking of the public.
They laud the promise of America but emphasize the need for increased border security. They say they champion civil rights but do not even mention the flabbergasting abuses of civil rights going on pretty much every day all over the country in the form of raids on suspected and unsuspected "fugitive" immigrants, abusive detentions, the militarization of the border. They use rhetoric about the immigrant history of our country and its marvelous diversity to inflame their supporters; they tell us to be brave, to "keep going" in electing their candidate, but don't seem brave enough to risk votes by adhering to the principles they espouse and give voice to the plight of millions of people -- documented and un- -- living in our country.
They want civil rights? Here:
"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."
That's Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
We'll do a more in-depth look at immigration as a campaign issue later. That's it for now.
Technorati tags: politics, DNC, convention, immigration,protests, democrats, McCain, Obama, Clinton.