Reports have been coming out of the Gulf for days about British Petroleum blocking access to beaches and animal-cleaning stations, in some instances using private Blackwater-style mercenaries to do so. Journalists as well as citizens have been thwarted in their attempts to see for themselves the extent of the damage being done by the runaway Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Know what I'd like to see happen? I would like to see a thousand people, ten thousand, a hundred thousand, just show the hell up down there and demand access. Citizens and reporters alike, just get down there, link arms, and walk to the beaches and the marshlands with digital cameras and cell phones for instantaneous blogging of what they see, hear and smell. Pile into as many rented, borrowed and begged boats as can be mustered and plow out there to the scene of the crime. Dare the gendarmes to stop us.
One of two things would happen: either the people would break through those unconscionable corporate barriers and show the world what is really going on in the Gulf, or the forces BP has arrayed against the truth would react with violence, which would tell us everything we need to know about what is happening, and would be enough to break that God damned criminal corporation finally and forever. Either way, there would be thousands of people down there to chronicle what is happening, a ready-made army of volunteers who can also pitch in as best they can and begin the epic process of trying to undo what has been done.
Sounds crazy? Maybe, but it is the kind of direct action that has been missing from our national narrative, not just in the Gulf but all over. What would happen if a million people marched on Wall Street, parked themselves in the road, and demanded that every "too big to fail" institution be torn down a brick at a time? What would happen if a million people parked themselves on Pennsylvania Avenue and refused to leave until American military forces are removed from Iraq, as promised?
Big stuff would happen, friends. The kind of stuff we'd be proud to tell our grandchildren about. Yes, Virginia, there is a We The People, and in the second decade on the 21st century, we rose up righteous and turned the tide away from this corporate war-machine oligarchy whose seemingly overwhelming power and masterful media manipulation put us all to sleep...but only for a while. Yes, Virginia, there was a way, and we found it, and we did it.
A very old friend of mine recently described President Obama as a "narcotic," and it was as spot-on an analysis as I have ever heard. Millions upon millions of people were mobilized during the psychotic tenure of George W. Bush; we knew what was wrong, we knew why it was wrong, and we summoned the care and courage to throw ourselves into a determined effort to bugger his deranged intentions. We failed far more often than we succeeded, but at a minimum, we were on the move.
Now, a year and a half later, We The People have become stuck in the mud as matters continue to go badly and dangerously wrong. Too many of the Bush-era policies we railed against are still in effect, with a few extra twists of the knife (escalation in Afghanistan, pre-Deepwater approval of more offshore oil drilling, etc.) that are putting us even deeper into a hole. Where is the action? Where are the voices raised in a roaring chorus of "No"?
Obama is a narcotic, my friend said, and that has a lot to do with it. Too many people think things are better now, despite all evidence to the contrary, because Bush is gone and this wildly intelligent, grand-speaking new president is in office. We are not necessarily asleep, but we are on the nod, watching the world burn around us without lifting a finger because, well, things are better now. Right?
Perhaps having thousands of people descent upon the Gulf is a dumb idea, not feasible, even crazy. But imagine what would happen if we did just that. Imagine Wall Street thronged with citizens whose futures have been looted, refusing to leave until real change is finally effected. Imagine what would happen if this slumbering, pissed off nation rose up and got moving again.
A large enough lever can move the world. It is long past time for We The People to remember that, shake off the narcotic comfort of delusional hope, and start working the shoe leather again.
Enough of this crap.