I’m sitting in the waiting room at my oncologists office waiting my turn for the daily dose of radiation that they tell me will make my throat cancer go away. It’s usually not a big deal; you lay on this flat bed for about 10 minutes while laser beams guide some behemoth machine around your body. Sometimes I wonder if all this technology is really the 21st century equivalent of blood-letting… but then I realize that I really don’t have many other choices (that my health insurance will pay for), so I submit to the zapping. I couldn’t really complain anyway, as the cancer has (temporarily, they tell me) deprived me of the use of vocal chords.
But yesterday, one of the 130 or so little motors that positions this zapper goes on the blink. So I had to wait. I did the crossword puzzles, read Ann Landers (is it Dear Abby?) and scanned the classifieds. Gradually I became aware of Fox News spewing noise from a smallish TV hung way up in the corner. Then it dawns on me that they are talking about the Occupy movement. I kinda figure Fox News isn’t gonna be sympathetic, or even handed about their coverage, but what the hay, I’ve got nothing else to do. So I listen.
What appeared over the next 15 minutes amounted to a talking head montage of hate, spewing non-stop distortions, lies and right-wing fantasies about Occupy. I swear that there was a least one complete whopper of a lie emanating from the boob tube every sixty seconds. “They stink… they don’t want to get a job… they’re anti-capitalist… they’re Marxists… they’re Nazi’s…why don’t they simply get $$$ from Michael Moore if they’re so poor?” And on and on.
That got me to thinking about the Chicago Board of Trade, where they’ve hung signs in their windows proudly proclaiming that they are part of the 1%. And about the Wall Street types that sat up their balconies last weekend and sipped champagne as marchers from Occupy came down the street. Imaginary conversation…”Oh, Martha, look at those unwashed masses down below. Isn’t poverty awful?”… “Yes dear, but some of them are cute. They kinda remind me of an old Pearl Jam video.” Fade to bourgeois laughter….
Here are these folks from Occupy setting up around the country blatantly engaging in non-violent protests. And these right wing bastards wanna thumb their noses. It makes the testosterone start flowing, the machismo latent in my maleness thump and my “fight or flight” command center klaxon horns wail. Intellectually I know that the State has amassed enough power to crush any who would issue a call to arms against these nimrods; I know that Gandhi is looking down from whatever perch he landed on and tsk-tsking at my rage. I know that those who use violence in the name of social justice inevitably end up as oppressors. And I know that I just don’t have the Right Stuff to actually act on any of these impulses. But still….
…I think back to the days of underground comics. Back then we had a comic book hero that would have stood those Wall Street woosies on their ears and exacted some “people’s justice”. “Trashman” was the creation of cartoonist Spain Rodriguz and appeared in various publications (including Zap Comix) from 1968 to 1985. He dispensed justice along with slogans designed to instill fear in his enemies: “Eat leaden death, you bourgeois pigs”,yada, yada, yada. From Wikipedia:
Trashman is typically cast as the defender of the working-class masses against the tyranny of fascist police/military forces, agents of governmental oppression, and the plots of the rich and powerful to oppress the common people. He is depicted as a strong, rugged, black-clad militant figure, with dark hair and beard and eyes always in shadow… … The style and setting of the Trashman comics are similar to many of the post-apocalyptic graphic novels and films that followed it years later, such as the Blade Runner and Mad Max films, the Dark Knight series of Batman graphic novels, and the V for Vendetta graphic novel and film.
At some point I do think a little discomfort is in order for the likes of the local head of the GOP, whose ability to trash talk is only exceeded by his love of a sleazy deal. These wanna-be fascists and arrogant ignorami need to get a clue that their Country Club, office or even gated community could some day see a horde of unwashed masses looking for a little Occupy action.
Now that those fantasies are out my system, I’m psyched about OccupySD. I want it to succeed. To be non-violent. To be undefined and unrefined in a way that makes control freaks and the news media go crazy. (What part of wanting economic and social justice is just too hard for them to understand?)
I’m taking my 15 year old daughter to be an eyewitness to some history in the making. We’re going to make protest signs together after school. We’re going because it feels like the right thing to do. And while my voice can’t be heard, my body and spirit will be there for as long as my stamina allows. If I can do this, you can, too. Come join the protest. Show those who sow cynicism and defeatism that there are people who can rise above their messages of fear and self-loathing.