Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Demonstrations and movies

C.I. doesn't have the Democracy Now! entry up yet and my guess is that either there was too much activism or members are really weighing in about one guest on Democracy Now! Sunny hated him. We were listening at lunch and she had the most intense reaction. She did not like what he had to say. She felt he "sucked up air time" with his "pompous blowhardness" and she asked that I quote her on that.

Mike finally called. I've been staring at the screen and staring at it while I wondered if I should just grab two headlines and post something. He missed everything but the headlines at the beginning and Reverand Lawton Higgs at the end. He said Ava, Jess and C.I. grabbed the laptops at lunch with the goal of going through the members e-mails for highlights, noting developments in Iraq and thinking it would take a half hour at most. But the guest that irked Sunny also bothered a lot of members, especially ones from Dallas. His name is Gilbert Bailon and he is the editor and publisher of Al Dia which, I didn't realize this, is part of the Belo corporation. They own so many TV stations nationwide that they reach something like 14% of the population. That may not seem a lot to some but considering that we're not talking about ABC, CBS, etc., it is a great deal.

I think it was the slamming of the students that probably ticked off members. It really bothered Sunny -- who was sputtering she was so upset. The point where he probably lost a number of people was when he felt the need to offer 'tips' on protests. It's not his protest to offer tips on. The students who walked out last week around the country did a wonderful thing and that was their activism. They took charge and they did a wonderful job. They don't need some middle aged person (including me) telling them which flags they should carry and which they shouldn't.
Student walkouts.

How long has it been since we've seen that? They didn't do that by going to a publisher and asking, "What should we do?" They did it on their own and they did a wonderful job. Bailon's opinion is useless and unneeded. Just the fact that the "establishment" (which he is) is still talking about it demonstrates that the students were heard and seen.

Someone who is obsessing, a week after the fact, over a Mexican flag is probably someone who would never join a protest today. I praise the students for what they did last week (and what they are doing this week, they are still staging in walk outs). Carry whatever flag you're comfortable carrying. C.I. said something to the effect of (last week), "Where do these complainers think many of the targeted are from?"

The Mexican flag caused Bailon to panic. He was preaching assimilation throughout. Which also bothered Sunny because he seems to think the key is to life is being just a little different, not too much. It's a bleached out notion of diversity.

There was a story on the broadcast, one that actually mattered. I heard it on a Pacifica newscast last night. I'm not the publisher of a newspaper so if I've heard about it, one would guess that Bailon should have heard of it. But he wants to gripe about a Mexican flag instead of addressing a very real issue.

Here's a link (and their summary) to that story.

"Eighth Grader Commits Suicide After Being Threatened by School Official With Jail Time for Organizing Walkouts" (Democracy Now!):
An eighth grader in California killed himself two weeks ago after being threatened by a school official for participating in the student immigrant rights walkouts. Anthony Soltero, 14, died after he shot himself in the head on March 30th. We speak with the attorney representing Soltero's mother.

Do you understand why Sunny was so offended? A child is dead. But Bailon wants to whine about flags? Maybe it's generational? Maybe we're on the verge of another generation gap?

"Up to 2 Million March in National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice" (Democracy Now!):
As many as two million people took to the streets in more than 100 cities and towns across the country on Monday to march for immigrants' rights. Undocumented workers, legal immigrants, labor unions, immigrant rights advocates and their supporters demonstrated in what was billed as the National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice. In New York, more than one thousand demonstrators crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and packed the streets in lower Manhattan for a rally near City Hall. In Atlanta, as many as 80,000 people flooded the streets. In Phoenix, an estimated 100,000 rallied at the Arizona Capitol. 25,000 marched in Madison, Wisconsin. 10,000 in Boston. 8,000 in Omaha, Nebraska. The rallies Monday followed a day of demonstrations in San Diego, Miami, Birmingham, Alabama, Utah, Idaho and Iowa. A rally in Dallas drew half a million people, the largest protest in the city's history. In Washington DC, hundreds of thousands streamed past the White House to a rally on the National Mall. The demonstration took place just yards from the Capitol, where Senators last week failed to reach agreement on wide-ranging immigration reform that would allow the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in this country a chance to work here legally and eventually become U.S. citizens. We'll spend the hour looking at the growing immigrant rights movement after headlines.

Why have the results been so astounding? I'd argue because you don't have party machinary calling the shots. This is people, of all races, saying, "No, the government is not going to attack a people." So those who will be under attack and those who care or can identify, band together to be heard. As C.I. pointed out in the column in Friday's round-robin, this isn't a top-down activity. This is people pulling together, doing what they know needs to be done. Possibly, that's what's upset the likes of Bailon so much that they become fixated on a flag. Instead of one voice (or rallying behind one voice like at a party convention), this is a multitude of voices and it's quite amazing. Possibly only after so many years of oppression under Bully Boy could people again find their voices and use them for something other than a candidate.

"French Government Backs Down on Unpopular Job Law" (Democracy Now!):
In other news, France has scrapped a widely unpopular job law that would have made it easier for employers to fire young workers. French President Jacques Chirac announced the decision following two months of protests attended by millions of people. Student groups and unions hailed the decision as a major victory over a measure they claimed would have only worsened job security in France. Chirac said the measure would be replaced by a new initiative to help disadvantaged young people find work.

I wonder how much this impacted actions in this country? I think it has. I think, C.I. would say "buttefly wings," that whenever a group in one area stands up for itself, it does impact other areas. It's like when you see a movie where someone, say Goldie Hawn, goes up against the system and wins. You may leave that movie thinking, "I could do that. I can take control of my life."

I like Goldie Hawn movies. Since Rebecca wrote about the type of films I watch, I've gotten so many e-mails asking me why I don't care for this type or that type. I like many types of movies and that includes comedies. The Apartment is one of my all time favorite films. However, I'm not too keen on most of the movies that come out today. They just seem to be geared towards a younger demographic. Add in that the "I've got to get my life together and move out of my mother's/grandmother's basement" genre never excited me.

But I like Goldie Hawn movies. Even The Banger Sisters. I think Shampoo is my favorite film that she's done and, after that, probably . . . I don't know which one I would put right below it.
Let me depress everyone with a story. My brother is basically retired now and that came from making enough to live on and from the fact that doing that gave him a heart attack before he was thirty-five. He really is the only family (blood relation) that I have. (Our parents died in a car accident.) That was the most depressing time in my adult life, when he had the heart attack. I pushed my patients off on a friend and spent every minute I could at the hospital. I would come home, put on Private Benjamin and fall to sleep. My friends and that movie are the only things that kept me going during that period.

I haven't watched the film in years but I can still quote it. "I mean the army can't afford drapes? I'll be up at the crack of dawn." During that period, the smartest thing anyone could do, and my friends knew this, was ask, "What do you need me to do?" I needed a great deal of small things taken care of. Rebecca and C.I. were so supportive, keeping the fridge stocked, watering my plants, the little things that there really wasn't time for. That was a trying and scary time and I didn't need to process (who had the time?), I needed to stay focused on my brother so the friends who picked up the slack for me by doing the daily errands really helped out.

On C.I., it was pointed out to me that when I complained about Noam Chomsky's book, how I was told I could reserve it, that it wasn't out yet. No one told me that at the bookstores. If they had, I would have been far more understanding. C.I. already had the book and was talking about it. I assumed, since Chomsky was also on Democracy Now!, that the book was already out. I took it to California with me but only had time to read on the flight out. On the flight back, I was tired and ended up sleeping. But the title is Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy. I'm only on page fifty-eight but after I post this, I intend to read for a bit and then go to sleep.

Last night, I wasn't reading. I was listening to Waiting for Godot on WBAI and if you enjoy Beckett, I hope you were as well. (If you missed it, go to WBAI and click on their archives.)

Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts later tonight. They were about to eat dinner when he got off the phone so I have no idea when he'll post.