Why I Protest Injustice

by Fred Wilder

I am 64 years old, the child of parents who lived through the Great Depression, fought in Europe and on the home front in World War II, fought for union rights in the post war years, had high school educations and managed to have 7 children all get higher education.

  • I am old enough to remember when this was a fairer nation, when the feeling of despair was not everywhere I went.
  • I am old enough to remember when what is normal behavior on Capitol Hill and Wall Street today was a crime, and when crooks got arrested, tried and if convicted jailed.
  • I am old enough to remember when education was a right, not a commodity.
  • I am old enough to remember what shared sacrifice really meant, when there was no debate about how to pay to help your fellow citizens out after a disaster.
  • I am old enough to remember when the Republican Party put Country ahead of Party.
  • I am old enough to remember when the Democratic Party represented working people.
  • I am old enough to remember what I was taught in elementary school, secondary school and college and to use it to help make my community a better place to live rather than taking advantage of it as a resource to exploit.
  • I am old enough to remember when tuition was free at the state colleges in Pennsylvania.
  • I am old enough to remember when people were encouraged to vote rather than legally denied their right.
  • I am old enough to remember a time when America had declared a War on Poverty and was actually winning it until another war took precedence.
  • I am old enough to remember what that war was like for those who fought in it, as well as those who fought against it since I did both.
  • I am old enough to remember the Governor of Pennsylvania, a moderate Republican (now extinct) stopping by to visit my dad, a union leader,  whenever he was in town, simply because the two of them served in the same air crew in WWII.
  • I am old enough to remember when America was truly a kinder and gentler nation, long before the birth of compassionate conservatism.  When people actually cared about holes in the safety net.
  • I’m old enough to remember where I was when Rosa Parks rode the bus, when Ike warned of the Military/Industrial Complex, when  Dr. King had a dream, when 4 little girls were killed in Birmingham, when a President was shot in Dallas, when man landed on the moon, when a President resigned (was there for that one), and to see a black man elected President (helped out in that one).  I am grateful that I have lived in interesting times, and shamed by the fact that my generation will be the first to leave our children and grandchildren a world worse off than we found it.
  • I’m old enough and I hope wise enough to appreciate the history I’ve witnessed and to use that wisdom to help following generations use it to better mankind.
  • I’m old enough to be cynical, yet I’m still an idealist.
  • I’m old enough to not care about the consequences of my action enough to do what I believe is necessary (non-violently) to help assure my grandchildren a life of dignity.

I may be old, I may have slowed down physically, but my mind still works and my idealism is still strong and my motivation strong enough to say that the only way I will give up is when I breathe no more.

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OWS – Dissent is Patriotic

submitted by Ann Keeler-Evans
I appreciate the hard work it must have taken Dr. Knapp to pursue his degrees and to rise to the responsible position he holds today. His dedication to his school district is obvious and welcome. His refusal to accept a raise at a time when the school district is struggling is admirable.
Nonetheless, I was disappointed in his editorial on Monday. We all believe in working hard. However, if it were ever true that hard work always led to success without a lot of other variables, it is true no longer. Sweat does not level the road to success. The impact of race, gender and class differences may be changing ever so slightly, but any or all of them can offset sweat equity. And, however hard we work, sweat means little without the support of good teachers and mentors. Bill Gates, who many like to tout as a bootstraps guy, succeeded in large part due to some happy historical events as well as encouraging mentors.
I would also challenge Dr. Knapp’s reading of the OccupyWallStreet participants. A movement of and by the people to protest unregulated greed is similar to the rise of patriotism that led to the Boston Tea Party, a movement that gave birth to this nation. To disparage everyone in that crowd as uneducated, unintelligent and incapable is wrong-headed and classist. Plenty of people not on Wall Street, teachers among them, work long hours. They deserve a living wage.  Many of the people in that  crowd are teens and young adults who cannot find a job. Many are folks over 50. Some have jobs. Some had jobs with pensions that were lost or given away. Some are soldiers back from the wars in which we are still engaged. Some are people unable to get healthcare for themselves or their families because of laws that favor corporations over citizens.
What more could we ask of our citizens that they, when faced with a broken system, sit down and reason their way forward together? The wealth inequality in our country is destabilizing to our nation, and those protesting have not yet made demands;  rather they are resolving to be part of the solution. People need jobs. They need homes. They need healthcare. OWS participants are taking time to be good citizens. History is being made by these ardent Patriots. I would want students to understand the history unfolding before them. Liberty and democracy are not easily obtained. But the people OccupyingUSA are working hard to bring this country into alignment with our American values and virtues, calling attention to the vast disparities in privilege that  have been growing since the 1980s. May the sweat of the 99 percent lead to our success as a nation equally responsive to 100 percent of its population.

Students and Engagement

I gave my students the option of observing #OWS in Valley or film at film festival.

One, so far, chose to see rally.  Here is her report. “Occupy Wall:street: Coming to a Small Town Near You.”  My students can probably guess, but I have not been overt about my support of the protest.  Like any social movement, I get it emotionally even if I worry also about its coherence, strategy, and the taint of the “weird ones” who will associate.  You can’t always control who gets invited to the party.  Their reactions, as likely future businesspeople, are an interesting set of responses.  I try to engage them and let them figure out the reality of politics, power, economics, ideology, and the possibilities for alternatives on their own.

Overall, I feel Bucknell students seem to have an aversion to public spaces and the messy side of democracy.  This seems to me some sort of long hang-o0ver from the 60s and 70s and the success of the Archie Bunker frame that anyone who speaks up is “just a trouble maker and dirty hippie.”  Hopefully, this and other moments can help them develop a deeper appreciation for how change happens, warts and all.

Tax Day Tea Parties

Hey-

Here is Huntington Post on Tax Day Tea Party antics.

Here is the anti-tax organizing site.

Here is where you can sign up to be a citizen journalist.

I wonder if there are any of these around here?

Is this a model of media activism we like?  Want to implement?  Does it also give progressives a chance to interact with our likely adversaries?

Are these folks into radical change also?