"Let Us Be Dissatisfied" and While We Are At It, Rude.
Stop with all the "civility". Civility isn't the problem. It's the inequality. And it's the lack of any in depth talk about it. One of my favorite lefties is Doug Henwood who wrote the 1997 book "Wall Street". Naomi Prins called the book " visionary" for its warning about derivatives and the foolishness of neo-liberalism. He has a blog and a radio program in NYC. He also has a must read newsletter called "The Left Business Observer" that recently Joseph Stiglitz noted by saying that it was filled with “wonderful rants and some very interesting facts.”
I was pondering the recent media coverage of the Tuscon shootings and noted how shallow the commentary was. Should congress critters sit together at the SOTU?; as if being "civil" was the problem we have in America today? Was the shooter a paranoid schizophrenic? The vapidness of the commentary was really getting to me and was in sharp contrast to commemorations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The great speech of MLK, Jr called "Where Do We Go From Here?" is easily my favorite speech of his and one that I reread often. At the end of the speech he does not say "So, folks, let's all sharpen our instinct for empathy." He said:
So, I conclude by saying again today that we have a task and let us go out with a "divine dissatisfaction." Let us be dissatisfied until America will no longer have a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds. Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort and the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice. Let us be dissatisfied until those that live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security. Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history, and every family is living in a decent sanitary home. Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into bright tomorrows of quality, integrated education. Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity. Let us be dissatisfied until men and women, however black they may be, will be judged on the basis of the content of their character and not on the basis of the color of their skin. Let us be dissatisfied. Let us be dissatisfied until every state capitol houses a governor who will do justly, who will love mercy and who will walk humbly with his God. Let us be dissatisfied until from every city hall, justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. Let us be dissatisfied until that day when the lion and the lamb shall lie down together. and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid. Let us be dissatisfied. And men will recognize that out of one blood God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth. Let us be dissatisfied until that day when nobody will shout "White Power!" - when nobody will shout "Black Power!" - but everybody will talk about God's power and human power.
And then I went to Doug Henwood's site.
And, bless his heart, he had a rant "Against Civility". And he phrased his annoyance at the media coverage of Tucson and the President's speech better than I did. He didn't call it shallow, he called it stupid.
The problem with the rudeness in American political discourse is that it’s often so stupid, not that it’s so rude. The idea that politics can be civil is a fantasy for elite technocrats and the well-heeled. I’m reminded of something that Adolph Reed once said to me, characterizing a mutual acquaintance as the kind of person who thinks that if you could just get all the smart people together on Martha’s Vineyard, they could solve all our social problems. Obviously they couldn’t.
It is our job to dig deeper and to avoid cliches, weasel words, and management speak in discussing what is happening in America. Arizona is in deep financial trouble as are most states. There are no jobs and no hope for them for young and old alike. It's the taking of stimulus tax cuts and not creating jobs but buying land instead like the recent case of Pulte Homes. 971 million in tax cuts; jobs cut instead It's criminal fraud by banks. It's the theft of our wages by keeping unemployment high. It's the pillaging of our futures by market manipulation. It's the inequality, stupid.
So let us all be dissatisfied.
More from Doug Henwood in my next diary about radio.