"MIC CHECK. MIC CHECK."
The way to a man's heart is through his stomach, an old saying goes. In the same vein, but not quite as sentimental, is another old saying immortalized in neon at Katz's deli in NYC. It reads: "SEND A SALAMI TO YOUR BOY IN THE ARMY." To show support for the men (and women) in uniform serving abroad in the military, sending a care package, is a well established tradition.
My thinking, is that a wholly American act to partake in on Thanksgiving, a wholly American holiday, is to extend this tradition to an Occupy near you. We used to "send a salami to your boy in the army," now lets "bring a pie to Occupy."
If you support Occupy, bring a pie to your local Occupy encampment this Thanksgiving. Occu-pie jokes aside, it behooves us to support others sacrificing their time and energy to participate in democracy and pushing for our shared government to be conscientious. To do more and become better-for the people, by the people.
What do I mean by support?
Do you support the idea of people participating in an unedited, unsanitized, and raw form of democracy? I'm speaking of a French Enlightenment Voltaire-ian ideal where you may disagree with what is said but defend someone's right to say it. If so, bring your pie to coincide with a daily General Assembly meeting. They can be messy, uncomfortable and unwieldy, and are often unproductive and frustrating. Get over it because when was the last time you saw direct democracy in action on a street corner near you? Bring the kids, for the free lesson in civics, history and social studies.
Do you support the ability to assemble peacefully and are taken aback by the militarization of the police as we witnessed last week during the unnecessary use of chemical weapons against UC Davis students? The world watched when Lt. John Pike calmly walked over and spray sitting students in the face with a chemical agent that left not only those hit with the spray gasping. If this is not representative of the society that you would like to live in, then perhaps you do support Occupy.
Do you support freedom of the press and think that barring and arresting reporters from covering the eviction of Zuccotti park is something you are not comfortable with, even if you are unsure how you feel about anarchists, homeless, and people who missed Woodstock taking over public space or in the case of Zuccotti Park, privately owned public space?
Do you support ending the war on drugs? In Los Angeles marijuana is just not in the air at Occupy, it's wafting its way into the message. Sure, the kids are enjoying getting high but maybe there is more to it? Think about it. We've been fighting a war against a plant for 20 years, and losing. And there are all those people who don't live in states like California, where weed is legal, and choose to self-medicate.
Their marijuana use, may be the only illegal thing they do; Why does this matter? Because it changes their relationship to government. And then there are all those people in jail at great personal cost, and a larger societal cost for marijuana related offenses. Do we really need to spend billions every year to keep people in jail for smoking weed? What about the lost tax revenue from a very profitable crop? So while the kids in L.A. need to change their bong water, maybe its time for us to change some policies that smack of prohibition.
Do you have student loans? Do you support ending the practice of onerous interest on loans to get an education, that borders on usury?
Do you not have student loans and are still disgusted that AIG was bailed out with 182 billion dollars of our tax dollars while students were given $0. While we were told with a straight face that this is what's best for America's future?
If you support any of these bring a pie to your local Occupy this Thanksgiving. Sending a "salami to your boy in the army" shows gratitude to the people who take their orders from the government, bringing a pie to Occupy shows gratitude to the people who are challenging such orders. I'm not saying they are both equal. I am saying that they are both American.
"CAN WE GET A TEMPERATURE CHECK ON THAT?"
Follow Harris Silver on Twitter: www.twitter.com/harris3