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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An Open Letter to the Winter Patriot - #OWS Day 68

Washington at the crossing
Washington's troops #OccupyDelawareRiver - Painting by Peter Fiore of Bucks County, Pennsylvania

[Update: Kevin's liveblog: Live Blog for #Occupy Movement: Protests, Events Planned for Black Friday & Thanksgiving]
These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
- Thomas Paine, 1776
The country is blessed with "winter soldiers" right now - the #Occupiers are winterizing for the next few months, tempering the seedcorn of the revolution for its mighty springtime burst. It is but a gesture, in my opinion - the Spring is inevitable, and the new life that accompanies that vital season will no doubt infuse the revolution - but it is a powerful gesture, ceremonial in its dignity, provocative in its commitment.

But Mitch Green speaks of the literal soldier when he writes "Soon, it is quite likely that you will be mobilized to aid the police..." (An Open Letter to the Winter Patriot, truthout):
If history is our guide then we know that story all too well. Behind a thin veil of red, white and blue stands a nation that has used its military might to respond forcefully to any public contempt for the very institutions which bind us in exclusion from the liberty those colors evoke. Just as a training collar keeps a dog in check, a highly militarized police force responds mercilessly, sharply, and without hesitation with an array of chemical warfare and thuggish brutality. And where they fail, divisions of soldiers stand ready to deliver a serious and painful lesson to all who demonstrate their unwillingness to wait for democracy.

This has been the history of democracy in America...

Those that take [your] oath seriously are faced with a terrible conflict. You must battle internally between the affirmation that you will place your body between the social contract embedded in the Constitution and those that seek its destruction, while maintaining your loyalty to the government you serve and the orders issued by its officers....
He notes in the same paragraph, however (my emphasis):
Your government in its expression of corporate interests relies upon your tenacity to endure, and your relentless willingness to sacrifice...
Which is a mighty thing for such an easy gloss, IMO. But it his letter (my emphasis, again):
...And so you do...

...I’m asking you to soldier in a different way. If called upon to deny the people of their first amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition their government for a redress of grievance, disregard the order. Abstain from service... Make no mistake: The consequences for such decisions are severe...

Today we are faced with a new revolution. This time we are fighting to preserve our democracy, rather than to establish a new one. And just as a grateful nation relied upon the Winter Soldier to deliver us from the colonial yoke of oppression, we ask that you aid us in our struggle...
As they say, go read the whole thing.

#OccupyEverywhere!

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