Remember back in December of last year, or July of this year, when American kids’ geography scores vs. scores the rest of the world over briefly captured the attention of those paid to make noise before moving on, magpie-like, to shinier subjects? There was this. And this. And, God help us, this. Then they got back to all things Kardashian or something – a subject many mainstream reporters are possibly even less fit to report on. But I digress. Geography: why are our kids so bad at it?
Well, I’d like to posit a few ideas, starting with this from the Atlantic. And last week, from the CSM. Perhaps that’s too broad a comparison… how about this, describing how Oakland officers dressed as protestors tried to incite violence and looting? Not to be confused with this, describing the same thing in Egypt. And Tunis. And London. And Toronto… Et tu, Canada? And this from – where? Oh, New York…
And what a day it’s been for New York. Proud, proud day. Begun early – last night, in fact, as Orwellian Doublespeak reached new heights. (How are the kids doing in Language Comprehension these days? You don’t say…) And yet – somehow, the city runs smoothly this morning. Everyone who has a job went to it. No one decided that Bloomberg’s decision to do away with a basic American right – the first one mentioned in the Bill of Rights, to be exact – was worthy of even a jaded eyebrow-raise. I recall that’s one of the perks of living in New York: you don’t ever have to feign surprise, and if an event manages to surprise you after all, you must not show it.
Well, for too many of us, not showing much of anything has become the norm. The sad, useless, uninvolved norm. Sure – you can’t afford to run off to NYC to camp in the street, and neither can I. I can’t even afford to skip whatever work days I scrounge to go and hang out more often at the Occupation here in Chicago. Does that mean we’re out of the game?
I saw a poster, in a window by Kedzie Boulevard, riding the OBSCENELY LATE Fulllerton Bus to the Red Line this morning. That poster said simply “We are all the 99%”. The location was, in a word, perfect. Fullerton and Kedzie. Nicely done. Imagine Mayor Emanuel riding past, perhaps in a limo, if he ever does, in fact, travel that far west for anything short of a meteor hit. Imagine if these signs were where every one of our city official-types – Alderman, police, fireman, newspaper hacks – could see them. Imagine if EVERYWHERE THEY TURNED, another house, another flat, another storefront: “We Are The 99%”.
What would that kind of support, on every street, in every neighborhood, tell these officials? Would it tell them they were outnumbered? Would it tell them that even if Grant Park could be cleared (like Zucotti), LaSalle Street could be cleared (like Oscar Grant Plaza)… you simply cannot clear out the whole city? Would it remind them not to try anything Bloombergian in THIS town? Would it make sure our neighbors and friends, family and former co-workers down by the Fed were safe because the city was behind them? Perhaps do our bit to clean up the image, still so fresh to some, of Daley I’s cops beating and oppressing protesters back in ’68? “That was ’68,” we could say. “In 2011, Chicago respects the rights of its citizens”… unlike, say everywhere mentioned here.
I want you to start planning. I want you to start deciding. Are you on their side, or will you wait until a vet from your hometown is put in a coma right on LaSalle Street? What will it take for you to pick a side? It’s not inconceivable. Look around. Look at all these other cities. IS that what you want to happen here?
If you have any interest in civil rights – if you have any interest in peace – if you have any interest in seeing justice for fraudulant banks, unfair foreclosures, watch-dog groups run by the criminals they were paid to regulate, and a government that’s doing nothing (and stymieing every attempt to do something) to stop it – if you have any interest in your neighbor’s safety, and your own – if you have any interest in protecting the rights of Americans, and the role of American beliefs – if you just don’t want your town to look really, really bad – start making some noise. Start showing your support. Start protesting from your front porch, your car, your messenger bag, and your facebook page. But be sure you do it big. Because they’re protesting for us down there… now they need us to speak up for them.