Category Archives: Protest

Tom Davis at the ‘nullification rally’

This morning, I saw this on Twitter from Tom Davis:

Thanks, Ed Eichelberger, for this video of my speech at Tuesday’s nullification rally at the S. C. State House.

“Nullification rally?” Is that what was going on when I passed by on Tuesday.? Wait, let me go check. No, I was right: This is 2013, and not 1832…

I didn’t have time to look at the video until tonight. Before I wrap up for today, I want to take note of it here. We must all remember this when Tom runs against Lindsey Graham next year. If he does. Or when he runs for anything in the future.

I have always liked Tom Davis personally, and I have been very disturbed to see his steady descent into fringe extremism.

In case you don’t have time to watch it all, some lowlights:

  • Lee Bright’s absolutely right.
  • Launching on a history lesson — neoConfederates are big on condescendingly explaining their version of history to the rest of us, and Tom is picking up their habits — he says that George Washington was president in 1800. No, Tom, he wasn’t. Kind of makes you want to double-check all the other stuff he says. In case you didn’t already know to do that.
  • He says, with fierce, defensive passion, that as a South Carolinian he is “proud of John C. Calhoun,” whom he characterizes as “a great man who has been maligned far too long.”
  • “You have the intellectual high ground here.” This to the assembled nullificationists.
  • “I can’t do anything right now up in Congress…” As opposed to later, I guess.
  • “This state has a proud tradition of leaders stepping up and holding aloft the candle of liberty at a time when things were darkest.” Really? I would like to have heard an elaboration on that, with names and dates, so I can understand how Tom is defining “liberty” these days.

Here’s what I would have done with regard to Occupy Columbia, had I been the governor of SC

Apparently — and surprisingly — the Occupy Columbia folks haven’t been getting enough attention from our governor. This came in an hour ago:


Tent March to the Governor’s Mansion at 4pm Tomorrow

ACTION ALERT: We are calling on all Occupiers and supporters to join us tomorrow for a march with our tents from the State House to the Governor’s Mansion. Once there, will deliver a special present to Governor Nikki Haley.

Please join us at 4:00pm at the State House and bring your tents!
With solidarity,

Occupy Columbia

I have no idea what this “special present” is, or why they’re taking their tents. Not knowing that, my mind turns to other, vaguely related, matters…

You know what I would have done over the last few weeks had I been governor? I’ve been thinking about this since the Budget and Control Board meeting the other day. I would have ignored Occupy Columbia.

Well, not ignored, as such. I think I might have gone out of my office and strolled around and chatted with them from time to time, totally low-key, in a nonconfrontational manner. I would have adopted a sort of traditional Hawaiian attitude — Burl should appreciate this. I would say things like, “Ain’t no big thing, bruddah,” and “We get ’em later…”

Beyond that, I would have left the situation alone, either until the Occupiers got tired of their shtick or until the Legislature came back. And if the Legislature wanted to pass legislation affecting the use of the State House grounds, they could do so.

Because the Legislature — the source of all power in South Carolina — has made it pretty clear that it is jealous of its authority over the State House and its environs. Witness its decision back in the 90s to make flying the Confederate flag — first on the dome, then starting in 2000, behind the monument — a matter of law, to make sure that no governor took action on the matter.

Even in a state where the Legislature doesn’t dominate as this one does, I would have understood that I couldn’t simply make up rules as I went along, enforcing “laws” never passed by a legislative body.

If lawmakers, such as Harvey Peeler, didn’t like the Occupiers, I would let them pass a law, and I would, within whatever executive authority allowed me, enforce it. If the solons wanted me to act more independently, then they could grant me power to do so in the future.

In the meantime, I would just be cool, and not go all Dean Wormer on the kids.

That’s what I would do.

Occupy Columbia says “Haley lies”

This just came out a few minutes ago:

VIDEO: Gov. Haley lies about inviting Occupy Columbia to make a public statement

The video above shows Governor Nikki Haley falsely claiming that Occupy Columbia had been invited to make a public statement at a Budget and Control Board meeting, in which they proposed new regulations aimed at evicting Occupy Columbia. We are still waiting on the invitation.

In reality, Melissa Harmon called the Budget and Control Board yesterday and requested to make a public statement. I know this because I was sitting next to her when it happened and tweeted about it. When they did reply to her, she was told explicitly that we could not make public statements and instead would have to submit written ones. We did not choose to submit written statements, as the Governor stated.

Maybe the Governor should check with her staff about these things before speaking to the media. If she did intend for us to have that opportunity then she should consider slowing this down and allowing adequate time to hold public hearings.

How do Occupiers eat? Here’s how…

Just in case you, like our governor, are sitting up nights wondering whether how the Occupy Columbia protesters are getting nutritious, sanitary meals, here’s an explanation from Maris Burton, a member of the Occupy Columbia Food Committee:

Dear Budget and Control Board members,

It has come to my attention that the storage and cooking of food is being used in an attempt to demonstrate the need for emergency regulations to protect the public health.

I have been involved with supplying and arranging delivery of food to the Occupiers.  I have taken part in several discussions regarding how to safely handle food and how to provide nutritious cooked meals. People are not living on the State House grounds; they are Occupying the grounds as a form of protest.

Since the eviction from the State House grounds on Nov 16, 2011 and the subsequent temporary restraining order that allowed the use of tents and a 24 hour occupation as part of our right to free speech, we agreed to lessen our footprint and to focus on having non-perishable items such as individually wrapped snack packets of crackers and nutrition bars, and water available to the Occupiers.

Dry goods are kept in a sealable plastic tub, not accessible to wildlife. We have a rotating food schedule of volunteers who prepare hot meals off site and bring them to the State house. We have one cooler on site that is kept supplied with ice and sometimes contains yogurts, cheese or packaged sandwich meats or creamer for coffee.  Food is brought at set times and cleared away promptly.

Any used dishes are collected each evening and washed at a volunteer’s home and then returned to the State House.

There have been no incidents of food related illnesses, and there has not been a problem with any wildlife coming near the food.

I welcome any questions you may have.

Such things are mildly interesting to me, because of my own strong aversion to living in the open. I’ve always thought, for instance, that the hardest part about serving in combat infantry would be the bivouac thing. Storm Omaha Beach, with the Germans having presighted every square inch and ready to rain lead and high explosives on me? Yeah, OK, just as long as I get a warm dinner and comfortable, dry bed that night, preferably back in England. To me, the real horror stories of war are those about the defenders of Bastogne getting frozen, literally, into their foxholes every night for a month during the coldest winter in Europe in a century, or the extremely gross conditions on Okinawa, living in a muddy soup of human waste and decomposing bodies. The fighting, by comparison, seems far less objectionable.

But I see even optimal outdoor living conditions to be less than desirable. I am not what you’d ever call a Happy Camper. By definition: If I’m camping, I’m not happy. Comparatively, anyway.

So it’s interesting to know how they’re managing over at the State House.

Occupy Columbia: Charges against 19 dismissed

Just got this:

Charges Against Occupy Columbia’s Nineteen Protesters Dismissed
Occupy Columbia to Hold Press Conference

ACTION ALERT: It our great pleasure to inform those concerned as well as all parties involved, that all charges against the nineteen protesters that were arrested on November 16th of 2011 have been -dismissed.  These charges were dismissed last night, Wednesday November 30th, 2011.

It is to our great pleasure to annouce as well, today at 1:30PM Occupy Columbia is to hold a Press Conference to discuss the dismissal of the case that would have convicted the nineteen protesters.

Occupy Columbia, Protesters, as well Supporters are ecstatic to start this month of Holidays off right: trully this is the Season to be Thankful and Merry!

Get up-to-the-minute updates from our twitter account: @OccupyColumbia.

Occupy Columbia

I pass it on FYI; I don’t think I’ll make it to the presser. But when I learn more, I’ll share it.

We are the 10 percent! The tyranny of a minority

I do not profess to be some sort of expert on the internal politics of Occupy Columbia, but I did hear something last night that startled me a bit.

I had wondered how on Earth they decided to do anything without acknowledged leaders. So after the “We Dare You to Arrest Us” rally was over last night, I moseyed over to eavesdrop a bit on their “general assembly.” And I heard what you can hear on the clip above.

I thought at the time maybe I had heard it out of context. As you can hear on the video, someone was saying hi to me at the beginning of this, which distracted me (you can hear me mumbling, “Hey. Hey, how are ya?”). But as I listen again, it seems pretty open and shut — any minority over 10 percent can block any decision.

As a guy who has for years fought efforts in our Legislature to make ordinary decisions subject to a supermajority of two-thirds — meaning one-third plus one is in charge — I was rather taken aback by this.

Walk me through this, please… This is a group that is indignant that, according to its legend, 1 percent controls things and 99 percent are victims, right? Yet this group lets 10 percent (plus one) make decisions for the 90 percent?

So it’s 1 percent good, 10 percent bad? Or what?

Maybe there’s a logical explanation. I’ll try to remember to ask next time I see some of these folks. They were kind of scarce around the State House when I looked today…

Big, dramatic, monumental confrontation on State House grounds just turns out to be a party

I went down to the demonstration, to get my fair share of

… ennui?

Not sure I can fairly characterize it all in a word, but that comes close.

Briefly, here’s what happened: A couple of people gathered around the State House steps at 6 p.m. this evening, and many of them for an hour or so after, apparently with the intention of provoking the authorities into mass arrests, going far beyond the 19 of last week.

It was a bust, because the authorities responded rationally.

There were cheers when Brett Bursey announced that he had been told by the head of Public Safety that the protesters would be allowed to stay as long as they liked, if they didn’t camp out.

They need to brush up on their Marcuse. This was a classic case of repressive tolerance. OK, maybe not exactly the way Marcuse himself defined it, but repressive tolerance as it came to be commonly used later.

This, boys and girls, is how a liberal society absorbs the energy right out of dissent — the society tolerates it, and the steam goes out of it. Then, of course, if some dissidents are determined to provoke a disproportionate response, they engage in provocations that lose popular support. And so their movement becomes marginalized.

But that hasn’t happened to the Occupy Columbia movement yet, as they went happily on with their “General Assembly” before the Confederate Flag at 7 p.m., doing their “human microphone” thing to their hearts’ content.

In fact, to paraphrase the ultimate journalistic cliche, as of 7:15 when I gave up on it all, a good time had been had by all.

The possibility of confrontation had brought folks out in numbers not seen before. The Old New Left was out in some force, from Tom Turnipseed to Kevin Gray to my gentle Zen friend Hal French. But there were plenty of kids, too, striking poses and shouting high-flown slogans and getting off on the heady rush of having their words passionately repeated by the crowd.

Gilda Cobb-Hunter was there, as the one elected official I saw. Her shouted message was fairly benign, to the effect that This is your house!, which of course it is. (You can see and hear her on the video above, after the unidentified speaker at the start of the clip, who was pretty typical of the speakers.) Not even Nikki Haley — repeatedly excoriated as “our tyrannical governor” by some of the more excitable speakers — disagrees with that.

What happened tonight was that the great fog was clarified a bit. Now we know, and we’re back to what Nikki had complained about to start with — camping out on the grounds is forbidden. At least, that’s the way things stood when I left. I hope the situation didn’t deteriorate after that.

By the way, I have no idea how many of the roughly 200 people there were supporters of the movement, but I’m guessing most. When I told my friend Claudia Brinson that — and she shouldn’t have been surprised — I was not among them, she had one of her Columbia College students interview me. The one coherent thing I remember saying was, “Just because Nikki Haley is wrong doesn’t mean these folks are right.” And it doesn’t, especially when I don’t know exactly what they want.

As I Tweeted a little later, “They just sang ‘We Shall Overcome.’ They think it’s the same. What they miss is that civil rights marchers had clear goals, not just emotion.” At some point, pointless activity becomes an inexcusable waste of human energies.

Speaking of Twitter, before signing off, I’ll share the rest of my impressions from the night, as they occurred in real time:

  • Standing in the middle of this enthusiastic Occupy Columbia crowd, wishing whatever is going to happen would happen soon.
  • As I just told Columbia College student who was interviewing me, just because Nikki Haley’s wrong doesn’t make the protesters right.
  • Here’s what the crowd defying Nikki Haley’s 6 p.m. order looks like
  • They just sang “We Shall Overcome.” They think it’s the same. What they miss is that civil rights marchers had clear goals, not just emotion
  • Brett Bursey says DPS chief says they can stay, just not camp out. Protesters declare victory. They should read up on repressive tolerance.
  • The duly constituted authorities played the best hand they had. Smart, measured response. Crowd has continued to dwindle since announcement.
  • I keep seeing protesters who have pulled aside the tape across their mouths so they can smoke. WAY too much smoke around here.
  • Kevin Gray is disappointed he’s not getting arrested tonight. I mean, what’s a guy got to do?

And then, I went home for dinner.

Is Walid Hakim a leader? He says no…

Today on their website, Occupy Columbia insists that Walid Hakim — who was arrested last night along with 19 others — is not a leader of their group. They were rather vehement about it:

An article was circulated by proclaiming that Occupy Columbia has a leader, as they stated an unofficial leader.

This is NOT the case!

This article was taken completely out of context.

Occupy Columbia is and always will be a LEADERLESS movement.

Contact them and DEMAND a rewrite!!!

I could understand how Will would have gained that impression. I did, too, as you can see in the above video.

For me, Walid has been the spokesman — he’s always at the fore and available, he’s confident and articulate, he seems to know what’s going on. He’s the guy you see ostentatiously pacing at the back of the crowd talking on a cellphone as the governor’s press conference breaks upon, seeming to coordinate things. He always does things a little bigger than the others — holding his sign higher, wearing the more visible attire (a keffiyeh, a Marine Dress Blues blouse). He’s got the Days of Rage hair, the whole nine yards. News people gravitate to people like that — in a chaotic situation with no one officially in charge, you look for the guy who seems the least dazed, and start asking questions.

More traditional (if you’ll allow me this ironic use of the world) street protest leaders such as Brett Bursey have been in the background, by comparison with Walid.

But the main reason I always talk to Walid is that I know him. He and I serve together on the board of the Community Relations Council. Below you see him (just left of center) seated at one of our meetings earlier this week, in yet another incarnation, with blazer and khakis. (Yeah, I know it’s blurry, but I wasn’t planning on using it for publication. I was just fiddling with my iPhone during the meeting.)

I realize that to these folks, it’s a really, really important principle not to have leaders. But here’s my prediction: They’ll either get some leaders, or never really accomplish anything much beyond making headlines and getting arrested.

What I saw at the revolution, such as it was

After the warning and before the arrests, these were the few chosen to be arrested, waiting as the rain began to fall.

There were about 100 apparent protesters milling about in the dark as the 6 p.m. deadline arrived. People in pools of harsh TV lights being interviewed, others talking on cellphones, others just waiting.

Walid Hakim was, as he has been, a center of attention. He told me — and maybe if I can get it uploaded, I’ll put up video later — that he had just learned that his great-great-great-great-great grandfather had owned the land on which the State House was located. So he said he was just hanging out on the family homestead, waiting to be arrested. He made dramatic statements about how the rights to speak and peaceably assembly that he had defended in the Marines were about to be denied him.

Brett Bursey was there, as he had been earlier in the day. “Do they take credit cards at the jail now?” he asked me. I said they certainly should, this being the 21st century and all. Then he slouched off to confer with others here and there. A few minutes later, I asked how many times he had been arrested, counting this time. He expressed doubt that he would get arrested, and acted a bit like he was being cheated. I didn’t really follow what he was saying was happening. Then he wandered off again.

The cops still hadn’t shown.

Walid and a dozen or 15 others grouped themselves around the Confederate soldier monument, with that “I’m going to be arrested” look in their eyes. At this point, I Tweeted out:

They’re so pumped up, chanting “WE. ARE. THE 99 PERCENT!” It would be rotten of Nikki not to arrest any of them. They’d feel so let down…

Eventually, some of the State House security guys showed up and announced that pursuant to the governor’s announcement, those who did not vacate would be arrested.

By then it had started drizzling. Walid and the other designated martyrs sat around the little fence enclosing the flagpole, and waited. My iPhone and camera started getting pretty wet. I went to stand under a tree. Didn’t help much.

Finally, the officers who had made the announcement came back out onto the grounds with reinforcements — maybe 20 uniformed officers. They formed a skirmish line, donning gloves, and started walking slowly toward Gervais.

I found myself walking backwards with the protesters who would NOT be arrested toward the sidewalk along the street. I realized the working media had stayed behind with those who were to be arrested. The police had simply walked past them, parting around them like a stream around a rock. I thought about standing on ceremony and demanding to be allowed back in with the other media, but a number of disconnected thoughts were running through my mind, such as:

  • I have no credentials, and this didn’t seem like a good moment, standing in the rain with everyone a little tense, to have a debate with the authorities about how I was, too still a member of the Fourth Estate, even though all I had to show was a business card. A damp one.
  • While I had bought the insurance on my iPhone, that meant I would “only” have to pay $175 to replace it if it were ruined by the rain.
  • My little Canon with which I was trying to shoot video was likely to suffer the same fate as the one before it, which was splashed by surf and never worked again. No one would reimburse me.
  • This was all moving WAY too slowly. At this rate, no one would get any cuffs before another half hour had passed.
  • What are the long-term effects of rain upon a silk bow tie?

What the line of cops wasn’t blocking, the media types still within the perimeter were. I couldn’t see what was going on with Walid and the rest.

I went ahead and crossed the street. As I did, I saw a group of protesters had gathered on the far side of Gervais under a blue tarp. I envied them their shelter as the wind suddenly picked up dramatically.

Then, it came down in buckets. I was entirely drenched by the time I made the door of 1201 Main.

I rode the elevator up, in my soaked blazer and black (formerly gray) pants and drooping bow tie and mop of thoroughly sopping hair. Everyone looked at me as though I were a lunatic. I got up to the Capital City Club and went to the bathroom to try to dry off some with the little terry cloth towels in there.

I went to a window to look back down at the scene I had left. I couldn’t see a thing. The TV lights seemed to be gone, even.

I went on into the Membership Committee meeting from which I was playing hooky. My appearance excited comment. One member asked me whether I was ignorant of the fact that there was an attached parking garage. I mumbled some explanations, sat down, and did my best to act normal.

Here’s a report from reporters who were paid to stay behind and witness the final tedious act of the drama:

Acting at the behest of Gov. Nikki Haley, S.C. Bureau of Protective Services troopers took 19 Occupy Columbia protesters in front of the State House into custody in a driving rainstorm around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Officers escorted small groups of those taken into custody back towards the State House. Officers placed band-type handcuffs behind their back. Protesters did not resist; there was no violence.

“At least you don’t have to be in rain now,” one officer said to a protester as he led a man. Protesters arrested included both men and women.

It was not known what, if any, charges those taken into custody will face.

Haley’s directive was aimed at keeping the demonstrators off State House grounds during the night. She apparently will not order state troopers to formally remove them during daylight hours.

“We the people shall never be defeated!” protesters chanted immediately before being detained…

And so forth…

Occupy Columbia getting booted at 6 p.m.

Waiting for the governor to make her move.

See update to this post in this comment below.

The buzz has been out there for a couple of hours. When I got wind of it, I walked down to the State House to see what was up.

The first person I ran into was Wesley Donehue, on his way back to his office at Donehue Direct across Gervais St.

“I guess I really stirred something up,” he said. I said something brilliant like, “Huh?”

Turns out Wesley’s the guy who sent out this letter from Sen. Harvey Peeler to Gov. Nikki Haley, in which he said,

I would like to know what the Budget and Control Board will be doing about the Occupy Columbia group…
If you drive past the State House you will see tables, sleeping bags, coolers, folding chairs and even a port-o-john. I do not know how these items do not invade the public health, safety and welfare of our citizens and visitors to our State House.

He said that “at the very least,” the group needs to complete an application for use of the State House grounds.

This stirred up the protesters considerably, and when I left them a few minutes ago, they were bracing themselves to be tossed out after the governor’s press conference at 4.

Walid Hakim, the only “99 percenter” I know, said his group would behave themselves peaceably.

But he also said, “I’m going to stay as long as I possibly can.”

I’m gonna run back down yonder and see what happens next.

Walid Hakim: "I'm going to stay as long as I possibly can."

An encounter with Occupy Columbia

One of my Saturday activities is catching up on email. I received this three days ago, but didn’t take time to watch it until now.

This shows Walid Hakim having a conversation with a couple of “1-percenters” down in front of the State House. Apparently they were counter-demonstrating with the message that the Dad of one of them works on Wall Street, and has to get to work in an armored car. Or something. I don’t have the counter-demonstrators’ version of events. Here’s the OC version.

It’s the first time I’ve seen Walid in his Dress Blues. Normally, he’s less formal.

The necessary ingredients for capitalism to work

On a previous post, Kathryn Fenner had the following to say (sort of taking off on something Phillip had said) about our economic and political systems:

Free market capitalisn is the best system going for creating wealth, but it is really poor at distributional equity. You have to redress it somehow, or the disenfranchised will reinstate a Hobbesian jungle, and kill the freedom of the market. In a really capitalist society, the capitalists drive around in bullet-proof limos and hide behind gated compounds while the rest of the society scraps and scrounges…many “developing” nations are like this.

In response to both, I wrote a series of comments, and for the sake of coherence, I will now edit them together as the rest of this post…

That’s not capitalism; that’s oligarchy. You find it in totalitarian systems (Stalinist Russia) with a small “Inner Party” with exclusive access to foreign goods, or in strongman-type dictatorships (such as with the Caudillos you see so much in Latin American history). And despite what Occupy Wall Street may think, that’s not what we have.

For capitalism to work, you need a thriving middle class (and NOT the bullet-proof oligarchs). Businesses need customers and skilled workers. There needs to be lots of unfettered economic activity.

This, by the way, is why all of those people turned out for that announcement Friday. Far from being just the “politicians” Doug universally despises, it was a cross-section. Yes, there were politicians of all stripes — and one of the wonderful things about an event like this is that Democrats and Republicans are happy to celebrate together, which is a good thing for the Republic.

But there were all sorts of representatives of business and academia. People I run into everywhere — Rotary, church, on Facebook, Twitter, etc. It was sort of like the last episodes of “Seinfeld,” when all these memorable characters from previous episodes crop up. Everywhere you turn, recognition. And they are people you don’t normally see together.

(At one point, Page Ivey — now with USC, formerly of the AP, formerly of The State — and I were standing near Bobby Hitt, and she remarked that it was like being in The State’s newsroom in the late 80s. I said something about The State having sent two writers, and she corrected me — yes, Jeff Wilkinson is still with The State, but Chuck Crumbo was with Columbia Regional Business Review. THAT publication had sent two — Chuck, and Jim Hammond, also formerly of The State. By the way, Chuck had also once worked at The Wichita Eagle, where I had been in the mid-80s. Memories of past lives, everywhere.)

Even Walid Hakim from OC fit into that category. He and I sit on the Community Relations Council board. He’s a nice guy and a very dedicated, helpful board member. I enjoy conversing with him. He, too, was attracted by the promise of new economic activity, if only to protest it.

It was particularly fitting that so many ex-newspaper types were there (and I didn’t name all of them I saw). A weakened newspaper, which is what The State and so many others were going into 2008, is like a canary in the coal mine for the local economy. If things slow down, or suddenly seize up the way they did in September of that year, the already-distressed newspaper keels over. Newspapers, relying almost entirely on advertising for life, are enormously dependent upon their communities thriving economically.

I’m acutely aware of it in the marketing game as well. As was pretty much everyone there. We can feel the fluctuations more easily than a lot of people with fixed salaries who have never seen volatility up close and personally. We all truly welcome the promise that a large new industry brings — especially one that pays a lot of people well — and how that can positively effect everyone in the community. And we have greater appreciation than my friends with The Nerve have for a community, as a community, taking on some small risk in order to encourage such growth — and an expanding industry can be one of the best kinds — in their midst.

Because for capitalism to work, everyone needs to thrive — blue collar, white collar, and yes, the Fat Cat investors. Lots of people able to buy cars and shop in the stores, and pay taxes so that we can pay for the governmental services that provide the framework for healthy economic activity — roads, parks, schools, laws that uphold private property rights.

One more point — for private and public to function together so that the whole community benefits, it is essential that people in the community have some faith in, and respect, those institutions. That is one reason why I so consistently denounce movements that are built upon the delegimization of such institutions. That includes the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, the Libertarian Party, the Sanfordistas in the Republican Party. Any movement that has its basis in lack of trust of these institutions.

Yes, by all means, point to problems with the system, as Nicholas Kristof did in that column that Phillip brought to my attention. Point to things we can fix, to make the system better.

But there is nothing worse than unfocused outcries against the system itself. Because a free and open republic in which capitalism can thrive to the benefit of all classes is the best hope mankind has yet come up with for mutual benefit in a community — or rather, in a complex web of communities, which is what we actually live in.

Man is a social animal. He does not thrive in isolation. And he interacts through institutions, from the family to the federal government, from Mom and Pop shops to large corporations. The idea is to work together to keep those institutions healthy and functioning as they should for the benefit of all, not to try to tear them down or make them pariahs or shrink them until they’re small enough to drown in a bathtub.

The movements or philosophies that would do those things are the enemies of our communities, and therefore the enemies of every one of us. And I stand against them.

E.B. White on the “Bonus Army” in 1932

The Bonus Army protests ended badly for these veterans. Here you see a clash with police. Later, Gen. Douglas MacArthur moved in with tanks and tear gas. Two protesters were killed.

You may find this interesting. In light of what’s going on with Occupy Wall Street, The New Yorker dug up some pieces that E.B. White wrote about the “Bonus Army” demonstrations in 1932. TNY noted that “While deeply sympathetic to the plight of the jobless in the Great Depression (see this Comment from earlier in the year), White was largely dismissive of the Bonus Army.”

The piece went on to quote White directly:

In a democracy, there are a thousand, ten thousand groups…. Each has its own particular sorrow and its grievance; there exists no common tyranny against which to rebel, not even the tyranny of hard times. If you mixed bonus marchers with Kentucky miners, they would probably spend the rest of their lives arguing about what to rebel against.

I could identify with that. With White’s attitude, that is. One of the things that bothers me so much about political parties is that they are aggregations of people who pretend their aims are the same, and mesh perfectly — when they don’t.

But even more pertinent to the protests we see today is this bit: “there exists no common tyranny against which to rebel.” To see the OWS as coherent, as having a point, you have to believe that there is some identifiable They that is oppressing the demonstrators.

But I could also identify with this sympathetic observation from a week later:

Being out of a job perforates the walls of the mind, and thoughts seep off into strange channels. To say that the country is as rich as it ever was is a joke: something is gone that used to be here—the spirit of millions of men is gone, and a man’s spirit is just as real a natural resource as gold or wheat or lumber.

While I don’t see it that darkly, I do see the world as vastly changed from what it was a generation ago. Different for my children than for me. Funny thing was, I felt like things were harder for us than for our parents. Yeah, we had more stuff as a generation — but it took two salaries even to be in the middle class, which had not been true for our parents’ generation.

Anyway, just some tidbits for thought…