". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, September 25, 2011

More FollowUps to the Wall Street Protests

El V made the protests the point of da List today -- and by golly even WNYC has a story on it -- on its website, and another, earlier one -- but the story was not on their broadcast news. The commentary is bitter and angry with WNYC's coverage that is also slanted to make the protesters look violent and stupid -- commentary by people who were there yesterday, as bystanders, accidentally. Again, the NYC cops went out of control.

From da List:
[ " The slogan is, "We are the 99%."

Do not worry about these protests, capital. At least for now. Y'all can go back to figuring out how best to short-sell the euro. As Cuban dictator Gerardo Machado assured the National
City Bank of New York back in the 1920s, "there will be absolute guarantees for businesses . . . there are sufficient forces to repress all disorder." But that was before the crash.

We first became aware that the Occupy Wall Street protests had achieved some kind of traction when one day last week the noise was audible from our home as the march moved down along the channels permitted by the police, from Union Square to Wall Street. But we couldn't immediately find out what it was.

If thirty people dress up and call themselves a tea party, the national media is there. The Occupy Wall Street protest, now in its second week, has mostly been in a news blackout. Until people got arrested it didn't count, but the arrest of at least 80 people yesterday has been hard to ignore, and if the movement can keep it up and make good on its claim to spread the protests to other cities, it will get even harder to ignore, though of course what makes the "mainstream media" the mainstream media is what they choose to ignore. (In this connection, I note that the MSM's copious face time given to the most extreme of right-wingers essentially confers mainstream status on them.)

Our useless public radio station, WNYC, ran a brief article on their website yesterday that, with only a couple of pictures, appeared to depict the protestors as old-school communists. The comments were more informative than the article, as per:

>I was there yesterday with my daughter and I saw no signs about socialism. I just saw police out of control. The police blocked the traffic with their plastic fence. I saw the police sweep up 12th Street between University and 5th, at around 3pm, telling
all the shopowners and restaurants on the south side of the street to lock their
doors. They then circled people on the south side sidewalk with the plastic
fence they carried and started arresting everyone. Their intention was to arrest
everyone on the block. If any investigator/reporter wants to know the truth just
ask the commercial tenants on the south side of 12th Street about the
premeditated police mass arrest action. The people on the sidewalk were not
obstructing anything. I had nothing to do with the people on the sidewalk or the
police. I was just walking in my neighborhood with my daughter. I stood on the
12th street north side sidewalk watching all of this. When I asked a police
officer why they were arresting everyone on the south side he told me to go home
or else I would also be arrested. That is exactly what I saw and heard.

In the case of the New York Times, a particularly smarmy
article by Gina Bellafante, higher-listed on their website than the
factual-reportage article, focuses on the clueless to tut-tut the young
protestors' lack of political knowledge. Her lede was a 37-year-old woman
stripping to her panties in public. (What's the difference between the Times
and a tabloid? A tab would have had a picture.) Yes, we have a problem with
political education in this country -- and with any kind of education, as anyone
who teaches undergraduates can tell you. But for me, it's hard to see the Occupy
Wall Streeters (who are mostly considerably younger than 37) as any less
informed than the people who dress up as Uncle Sam and claim social security is
a Ponzi scheme. Those people are in general treated quite respectfully as a
legitimate slice of public opinion -- and they won't get pepper-sprayed by the
police, either.

Perhaps revealing a gap in her own political education,
Ms. Bellefante writes dismissively of "the opportunity to air societal
grievances as carnival." But carnival and political consciousness have a long
history of intertwining, and this movement is at least groping toward
a political consciousness. Some of the people who have
put themselves on the line here seem to have a clear idea of what they're
doing. Granted, convulsive destruction of property gets more respect from
journalists, to say nothing of self-immolation.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, an assiduous defender of the interests of his class, has a horror of the -- he's referred to it more than once -- and the New York police are experienced practitioners of kettling. This week, the preferred police tactic is netting. They use big orange nets -- day-glo orange, the color of repression -- to cordon off protestors as if they were schools of tuna, fencing them in and holding them. Then, if is any indication, they pepper-spray those caught in their web. Granted, that's pretty lightweight compared to, say, this video from Syntagma
Square in Athens on June 29.

As you might imagine, the people arrested and those around them are social media-izing like crazy. (I saw a new word, when someone was encouraged to keep up the "retweetage.") One aggregator is ,, and there's a live streaming camera plus chat at . A number of videos and stills are posted at A national-protest website is A "we are the 99%" poster is downloadable at

Demonstrators a Sotheby's auction on Thursday, protesting Sotheby's union-busting against the IBT 814 Art Handlers Union. And according to, there was a moment on Thursday when Occupy Wall Street and a march in support of Troy Davis converged in the street "in a cathartic and compelling moment that the police did not expect. More than a thousand people were now overrunning the streets of lower Manhattan, and they were able to push their way on to Wall Street together."

The Times article by Colin Moynihan below might leave you with the impression that the arrests yesterday did not involve tasering, tackling, and punching, but check this video (in which "Justice for Troy Davis" signs are visible) . . . " ]  {I quoted from it in the previous post}

No comments: