Keith Olbermann | Reader Supported News
November 17 2011
Keith Olbermann's 'Countdown' on Current TV, 06/02/11. (photo: Current.tv)
OPINION | First, as promised, a special comment on the events of Monday night at Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park:
For the entirety of the life of our nation, democracy has been protected — not merely by the strenuous efforts of those of us who cherish it, but mostly, and most profoundly, by the limitless stupidity of those who would ration it, keep it for themselves and themselves alone, or destroy it.
The protests that ended the war in Vietnam reached critical mass only in 1970, when Governor James Rhodes of Ohio pounded on a desk at a news conference and called the student protesters at Kent State University un-American. They were not un-American, they were unarmed. And the next day, four were shot and killed by the National Guard and 10 days later, two more were killed at Jackson State.
Those protests had themselves only gone mainstream 20 months earlier, when Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago overreacted with mindlessness and sadism to the massing of demonstrators outside the 1968 Democratic convention and the whole world watched.
A century of the institutionalized, codified, legalized, pseudo-slavery that followed the real thing was fatally stricken only Governor George Wallace of Alabama used his inaugural address to promise, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” Within two years came the marches on Selma and the atrocities at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. And ten weeks after the first violence, the president had proposed the Voting Rights Act to Congress.
The mounting paranoia of three decades of scapegoating of — and fear mongering about — liberals, only ended when its last white knight self-destructed on the national stage of televised hearings, when Joe McCarthy questioned the loyalty of the US military and — towards one junior attorney — he revealed the depths of his cruelty and megalomania. And he revealed that — at long last — he, indeed, had no shame.
Pick any moment in our history — our history as a country founded by and invigorated by and re-invigorated by protests — and you will find men like George Wallace and Joe McCarthy and Jim Rhodes and Richard Daley. Go back further — to men like the owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company or the officials who sent the police to the Haymarket Square and the troops to the Pullman town or John Brown or George Grenville, the British politician who had a bright idea about the American colonies, an idea called the Stamp Act.
American freedom has not flourished in spite of these morons of history, it has flourished because of them — because they overreacted, because they under-thought, overreached, under-understood. We owe them our traditions of protest. We owe them our freedoms. We owe them our very independence. None of them ever understood that — around these parts anyway — suppression always creates the opposite of the effect desired.
Such a man is Michael Rubens Bloomberg, mayor of New York City and — as of today — the most valuable, the most essential, the most irreplaceable man inside the Occupy movement.
Who else but a cliché like Bloomberg could take a protest beginning to grow a little stale around the edges and vault it back in the headlines, complete with mortifying scenes of police dressed as storm troopers, carrying military weapons, using figurative bazookas to kill figurative mosquitoes?
Who else but an archetype like Bloomberg could claim a group of protesters was making too much noise in a residential area and then choose to try to disperse them by bringing out LRAD audio cannons, machines that send painful waves of sound indiscriminately over the very same residential area?
Who else but a cartoon like Bloomberg could have become rich creating a multi-billion-dollar media and news company and then authorize illegally preventing reporters from witnessing police actions he claimed were utterly legal, and then authorize the arrests of four reporters at a church?
Who else but a human platitude like Bloomberg could have just gotten back from Jerusalem — and the dedication of a ten-million-dollar medical facility for which he generously paid — and then enabled the image of policemen seizing 5,500 books from the Occupy Wall Street library, and throwing them in a Dumpster as if the cops were book burners?