Monday, October 03, 2011


This might just be me on a lack of sleep, but we are a country full of suspicious minds lately. This goes beyond my son wanting to be an amateur sleuth, when he's not telling me how he'll kit-bash HO-scale model trains.

I returned from an out-of-town jaunt this past weekend to read this about the Wall Street arrests I'd heard about:
The fact is that while at one time in our nation's history individualism was seen as a serious threat to the status quo, now not only is it not dangerous, it's an almost comical anachronism. There is no individualism these days. Nothing truly audacious can stand in our culture, not when our culture has become so monstrously adept at assimilating all forms of rebellion until they become completely meaningless and utterly impotent. Prepackaged, homogenized non-conformity is as close as your local Hot Topic. Agitation is fashion. Defiance is a slogan. Insurrection is product placement. The revolution is not only televised, it can be DVRed and enjoyed at your convenience.

So, no, hundreds of people wearing different colorful outfits, each carrying a sign emblazoned with his or her personal agenda not only constitutes an ineffective mess, it provides endless fodder for the idiots at Fox News, who get to smirk patronizingly and present it as good news from the front, as Matt Taibbi once called it, for their audience of bitter old people.

The protest itself was important -- too important to be incompetently executed to the point that it could be easily dismissed by the masses.

But admittedly, something has happened over the past week or so: A single, fundamental message of Occupy Wall Street has begun to coalesce, and a series of disorganized grievances has slowly started to dovetail into one, coherent movement. What's more, the outrage voiced by a few has lit a match to the anger felt by millions -- and the resulting fire is now spreading rapidly, with similar protests flaring up across the country. Occupy Wall Street may have started as a muddled gathering of occasionally conflicting ideas, but it was the spark that was needed to potentially create a conflagration. And it's damn well about time.

I've always believed that in order for a protest of this kind to be effective, it would have to draw the support of -- and present as a public face -- more than simply the youth, since young people can always be shrugged off as misguided or simply in need of a job to better occupy their time (the latter criticism being wonderfully ironic given the very reason for the protest in the first place)....

...It's more than just a bunch of "deluded kids" now. It's the impossible-to-deny men and women who've found themselves crushed under the heel of an unaccountable and out-of-control corporate culture -- of those consistently on the winning end of the rigged, zero-sum game that success in America has gruesomely morphed into at the beginning of the 21st century. They're part of the vanishing middle-class -- and they're fucking sick of it. We're fucking sick of it.

I'm not a fan of the Rage Against the Machine brand of social upheaval, which is the reason I was wary about Occupy Wall Street at the beginning. But the band was right about one thing, and it may provide the perfect summary of what's erupted on the streets of New York City: It has to start somewhere. It has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now?
...and then I took a look at Jennifer Williams' interview with Julie Lause, principal of the newly reorganized Harriet Tubman Charter School on the west bank and found that I was still pretty suspicious of the people who do want to do better by the kids here but who still must straddle the standards set by the feds and the state. I do wish Lause well in this:
We really believe that if the teacher teaches well all year, we shouldn’t have to do “test prep” to prepare them for the LEAP and iLEAP. All year, teachers are teaching to the standards and these interims are a way for teachers to do course corrections and make sure all the students really are mastering the material.
This is a great thing to aspire to. I hope it holds up when parents begin panicking about Tubman's school rankings, as they will. Unfortunately, the life of the school depends a tad too much on it, which is what's partly responsible for the revocation of the Algiers Charter School Association's Tubman charter in the first place. And, apparently, the former Tubman teachers who decided to stay with the ACSA...
(according to Lause:
LAUSE: All of our teachers are new to this building.
LENS: Was that a strategic decision on your part or was the old faculty reluctant to get involved with the turnaround?
LAUSE: The former ACSA teachers chose to stay with ACSA, I believe.)
.... seem to be getting screwed for their loyalty. If anyone can corroborate the following, please let me know:
ACSA#rsdcharter annouced to teachers that they will no longer have a retirement plan!
As for somewhat happier, less suspicious news, I started my weekend with bad chicken-treatment information only to spend a good part of my time in Buckhead with my aunt's gorgeous free-range chickens. None of these babies will be swinging 'round anyone's head anytime soon.

Update, 7:27 PM: I am still suspicious of Occupy Wall Street and its satellite movements, largely because they are more re-actions rather than actions. There is definitely something - a whole lot of somethings - wrong, and more concrete goals are needed, because, like it or not, we are a goal-oriented society. Look at the commonalities in all your stories. Please. Then start from there.

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