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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Coverage Of May Day More Like A Cover Up

Hundreds of thousands of workers celebrated May Day world wide, and here in the United States the Occupy movements chose May Day to re-introduce democratizing mass movement into a Presidential election year. In so doing, Occupy re-connected emancipatory radicalism to May Day in the country where May Day was born over a century ago as a testimony to the sacrifice and power of organized labor only to be squashed by reactionaries (it isn't an accident that official calendars still hilariously declare May 1st to be "Law Day"), and then was reborn not so long ago, in 2006, as testimony to the precarity of immigrant labor in white-racist neoliberal America in the largest demonstrations in our nation's history, only to be largely forgotten once more in the endless churn of superficializing tweets. The great public events of Occupy's May Day yesterday were overwhelmingly peaceful, provocative, and promising.

But of course the wall to wall coverage of President Obama's unscheduled trip to Afghanistan and address about the decade long commitments that are presumably what passes for the end of a war that cannot be won and never gets better and is despised by all managed to shunt May Day from view as a national story. I found it especially chilling to hear Rachel Maddow (generally, I like her a lot) declare that through this orchestration of events the White House has ensured that May 1st will be forever remembered and commemorated by Americans as the day we killed Osama bin Laden. I humbly venture that either we will still remember and commemorate the struggles of people who work for a living for equity in their diversity on May Day rather than the assassination of one bad man on May Day in years to come -- or, in failing to remember and so reinvigorate those struggles, we will not survive as a working nation in the first place.

Anyway, not only did Afghanistan and assassination seem to cover up rather than cover May Day nationally, here in the Bay Area local media seemed to favor coverage of completely unrepresentative and isolated acts of violence rather than the colorful and peaceful and righteous crowds whose smiles outshone the sun.

I was stunned to hear many local broadcasters rattling off dollar amounts (helpfully provided so expeditiously by whom, one wonders?) of the costs to taxpayers in the millions of extra security and clean up and reconstruction imposed by the May Day celebrations. Needless to say, in foregrounding unrepresentative violence and emphasizing costs borne by taxpayers, the "news coverage" of these events was re-framed as a violation of the rights of the majority of people who work for a living, rather than as an expression of resistance by people who work for a living against the violation of their rights by moneyed minorities.

One wonders what it might be like to hear daily tallies on local news broadcasts of the costs to taxpayers of aggressive unnecessary policing, of inefficiently privatized public services, of the externalization of the social costs of extractive misuses of common and eco-systemic resources, of corporate welfare larding millionaires with wasteful contracts, royalist junkets, and proliferating perks at taxpayer expense, of the millions wasted in opportunity costs of failures to educate children to take on the shared problems we face, to train unemployed people for useful work, to treat medical conditions before they become catastrophic enough to find their way to Emergency Rooms in our for-profit insurance mediated healthcare system, to provide support for people facing personal crises of violence or distress that render them unable to contribute, for now, their measure to the shared problems of our communities but who could be helped back to their feet to join in the shared work of progress with just a little effort. Instead of the stoking of resentment of people who work for a living at the "costs" of efforts at education, agitation, organization, and resistance to the ongoing injustice and exploitation and violence and waste of the richest of the rich, instead of seeking to divide people who work for a living from their shared interests and struggles in the name of "news," you can be sure that the daily documentation of the real costs of elite incumbency would bring millions more to the streets to stake their claim to our shared world, to make their way to greater democracy, shoulder to shoulder and peer to peer.

The second year of Occupy will find elites more prepared to sow their discord and deceptions. The impact of a profoundly significant Presidential and Congressional election (Movement Republicanism is desperately seeking to hold the line against demographic shifts while the catastrophic impacts planetary environmental and austere macroeconomic crises begin to exert their literally deranging forces indifferent to the pace of dysfunctional governance and electoral reform) on the Occupy movement is radically unpredictable. The stakes are terrifyingly high. The outcome is far from assured. The relationship between radical activist democratization and partisan Democratic politics is worrisomely fraught and dysfunctional, when it must be made to be co-facilitative in ways that are not cynically co-optive or naively dismissive in either direction.

Gramsci's "pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will" names well the way I am feeling the day after May Day.


jollyspaniard said...

Television isn't everything. Things that go on in the real world leave an impression. Protests always get downplayed in the media initially unless they serve elite interest.

I can't remember which country it was, perhaps Poland where people protested TV coverage by putting their Televisions in baby strollers and taking them for a walk.

ian @ paul said...

In other news:

"In order to recognize the American spirit of loyalty and the sacrifices that so many have made for our Nation, the Congress, by Public Law 85-529 as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as "Loyalty Day." On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America, our Constitution, and our founding values.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2012, as Loyalty Day. This Loyalty Day, I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance, whether by displaying the flag of the United States or pledging allegiance to the Republic for which it stands.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

-Barack Obama"

Dale Carrico said...

What can one say (apart from, ew! I mean), but see to it through words and deed, in spite of Obama, that May 1 continues to mean what it really means. Also, vote Obama.