There is a growing unrest in the United States. It is smaller than those that evolved in the civil rights movement, but nevertheless it surprises me. I thought the mainstream of America had fallen asleep. I thought they had bought the propaganda of the rich, the privileged, the extreme right-wing, the radical right, the phony Christians, etc. But perhaps the distortions of the extreme right-wing and the wealthiest and greediest Americans had finally grabbed for too much.
The tens of thousands who have daily surrounded and entered the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin may have begun something. The protest itself is being mis-characterized. It has been labeled only as a demonstration by labor unions. That misses the bigger point. And it is not only about teachers. It is a gathering of middle class and poor people who have had enough. They are sick and tired of being blamed for the problems brought on by the wealthiest individuals and greediest corporations in the U.S. And some of the very people who agree with these wealthy and greedy individuals and corporations stand to suffer the consequences of such greed and selfishness. But they have taken the right-wing propaganda hook, line, and sinker. But they are not alone. The mainstream press has bought far too much of it themselves. And the right-wing extremists [purchased by the greedy and wealthy] have totally distorted what is happening. And thus the blame is placed on the more defenseless people, and the poorest people. What is left for them to do but rise up as African-Americans did in the 1960s?
Is it enough? Probably not. The gatherings in Madison have grown, and sympathy has been expressed throughout America. People from all over the world have sent money to a local pizza-maker in Madison to provide free pizza to the demonstrators. "Solidarity" brothers and sisters in Poland, who went through the fight against similar odds, have sent their support and purchased ads of support. There is widespread empathy from working people and poor people all over the world, and in every corner of the United States. But do they have staying power?
The fight to keep a right-wing, activist governor and legislature that has been bought by the Koch brothers and some of the wealthiest and greediest people in America from imposing their will on the middle class and poor people is being fought. The working contingent in the demonstrations have already agreed to pay more for their benefits. But that is not enough to the right-wing. They want to take away the collective bargaining rights of all workers. They want workers to "submit." Well, let us hope that there will be no more "yes, mastah" moments among America's middle and poor classes.
If the demonstrators in Madison fail in their fight, I don't know if they have the resolve of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and forward. Those brave civil right fighters suffered setback after setback, yet they prevailed in many ways. Think back to the long evolution that took place at Montgomery, Birmingham, Selma, Memphis, the Lincoln Memorial, Atlanta, and yes, in Milwaukee. One of the major viaducts in the city of MIlwaukee is now named after former Roman Catholic priest James Groppi. Father Groppi left the priesthood, drove a city bus, and became a leader in the labor union that represented bus drivers. His service, and those of the wide civil rights movement, was life-long. The fight in Madison may only be the opening salvo. I, for one, hope so. I support the action by the demonstrators who have offered to give up many of their benefits to help in balancing the budget, but the right-wing will not accept that. They insist in taking away their collective bargaining and other rights.
This could be the start of something big. This could be a return of what we called in the civil rights movement, "The Beloved Community." I am a brother in this community.