Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.
– Henry David Thoreau
May Day in NYC
I had planned to be in NYC this week a couple of months ago to see family and catch up with friends as well as people in the business. It just so happened to coincide with a May Day march from Bryant Park to Union Square. I figured this would be a great opportunity for me to see firsthand a little of what the whole OWS or protest movement broadly in NYC is all about. I was also fortunate enough to meet Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert in person and we taped a really fun interview on a couple of rain soaked chairs in the park. I will send it out to everyone as soon as it is released. Anyway, on to May Day in Manhattan.
After taping the interview in Bryant Park, I split ways with Max and Stacy and proceeded to walk around to see what sorts of characters were hanging about and more importantly what kind of message they were trying to get across. The crowd snaked around the park as it headed east on 40th street toward 5th avenue where it turned south to make its way down the mile and a half walk toward Union Square. It was pretty cramped as the protesters stayed on the sidewalk; never venturing at all into traffic. There were plenty of onlookers and police straddling the sides. I have to say that the walk down was both very enjoyable and encouraging. People were in good spirits and I felt the vast majority of the signs advocated thoughtful and appropriate messages that demonstrated a real understanding of the true nature of the problem facing us as a country and indeed a planet. I don’t know if 1,000 guitar players showed up (that was the idea) but there were a lot. Groups of people happily strumming songs as we walked along what is the most densely populated area in America was a really cool and new experience for me. The most popular tune being played was Woody Guthrie’s classic folk song “This Land is Your Land.” There were people playing other instruments as well and in particular I really enjoyed the saxophones. Employees on cigarette breaks would take photos and videos on their smart phones. You could overhear the conversations of people passing by; some mocking the protestors under their breath and others visibly demonstrating their support. The march overall was a very enjoyable experience.
Things changed for me when I got to Union Square. Suddenly I started seeing some strange things. The crowd seemed entirely different, which made no sense since it should have been the same people that marched down with me. The guitars and the spontaneous playing of music were drowned out by someone ranting on a stage which had been set up on the south side of the park. I saw a Mexican flag. I later saw a hammer and sickle USSR flag. It was weird. I would not be surprised at all if these people were in some way plants put there to turn people off, but if they were it worked. It wasn’t these one off flags that were the problem however. It was the stage. It was loud and unintelligible. Of the two people I heard speaking over the course of let’s say an hour and a half both were immigrants yelling like maniacs about their own pet issues. Now I certainly have no bias against immigrants as my own mother came here from Chile (and all our ancestors came from somewhere else) in the early 1970s to escape political turmoil there. However, I found it strange and not encouraging at all that with all the bright minds and articulate speakers involved in the protest movement in America today, both in OWS and the Tea Party, this was what was chosen for the stage. I didn’t hear any discussion of any of the fundamental systemic issues that need to be resolved in America today and are at the core of how the oligarchs are robbing and pillaging everyone. I have no idea who sponsored this stage and set up the speaker list but it was so bad (at least during my admittedly brief time there) that I didn’t feel like staying. So I didn’t.
Photos from the Day
Despite my being disappointed in the congregation at Union Square, I thoroughly enjoyed much of the day and I want to end this brief piece on a positive note. So below I have posted some of my favorite photos of the day.
We Are Change Confronts Obama’s Information Czar Cass Sunstein
This might be the best video of 2012 so far. Luke Rudkowski of We Are Change absolutely exposes this creep for the totalitarian liar he is. Watch how he squirms away from the questions asked and even claims to not remember what he wrote. Then he just refuses to deny or repudiate those statements. This kid is great. This is your government folks…
Did you notice how he introduced himself as Bill Deberg? I was dying.
Peace and wisdom,