Click here to go to the Home Page What Does Oppression Look Like? - Represent Our Resistance By Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, PhD - Editorial Board

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Oh, no cannonballs did fly, no rifles cut us down
No bombs fell from the sky, no blood soaked the ground
No powder flash blinded the eye, no deathly thunder sound
But just as sure as the hand of God, they brought death to my hometown
They brought death to my hometown, boys

No shells ripped the evening sky, no cities burning down
No armies stormed the shores for which we’d die
No dictators were crowned
I awoke from a quiet night, I never heard a sound
Marauders raided in the dark and brought death to my hometown, boys
Death to my hometown

They destroyed our families’ factories and they took our homes
They left our bodies on the plains, the vultures picked our bones

-Bruce Springsteen, “Death to My Hometown,” Wrecking Ball (album)

Recently, while waiting for the manager to open the door of a local grocery store, I heard a conversation between two young men who walked up from the parking lot and stood behind me. The conversation was already in progress:

Yeah, my family in the Islands. When I was young, they spoke that Spanish at home.

Man, then you can speak Spanish?

No, I don’t speak that mess, man.

I don’t know what they are saying. That Spanish mess, (expletive) Spanish, man. So you got Spanish blood?

Yeah, my great grandfather was white, too. Irish!

Yeah! You got some Irish too? (Expletive).


(Expletive), you don’t have that much Black in you.

No, (expletive), I got some of everything.

But anything…

In the store’s glass window, a tall, dark brown-skinned man stands next to a white man, shorter in statue. Both are young, workers or possibly out of work. The one pleased to learn that the other did not place much value on the Black blood running through his veins, is smiling. The not-so-Black, Black man, is not.

This is what harmony looks like in a capitalist society like ours here in the U.S.

If the same two young men should decide to exercise their rights to free speech and protest in front of this store, if the two, identifying themselves, let us say, as Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protesters, enter this same store and, without guns or sticks, demand its closure and proceed to replace it by building a community-owned market, if, even, they enter the store to demanded the rights of its workers to unionize and receive living wage, if these men remain “non-violent,” their actions would still be considered subversive - violent.

This is what the dissent by the oppressed looks like.

The one smiling would be reprimanded while the other might be murdered. And this we call equality in the U.S., the oppression of democracy.

If, for these two men, gainful employment is not to be found because the accumulation of profits for the Nikes, Wal-Mart, Apples and Microsofts demands these corporations’ bottom lines substitute union workers in the U.S. for workers in China and India, then these two young men, of course, could go to war - and defend democracy.

Pick any place: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan - Iran, maybe soon? If these two men survive combat, yet sustain mental and/or physical injuries, medical attention might be problematic. In fact, the medical attention they do receive is certain to be short term and inadequate. If the men are still unable to find work and face the possibility of homelessness, if one or both are fathers, how would they act on learning that they are non-persons and they always were non-persons, while Lockheed Martin and General Electric and others, are persons. How would they respond to learn finally that these persons have the right to fund the campaigns of politicians who, in turn, must defend the rights of the corporations, or risk losing their political lives while corporate executives enjoy life, liberty, in pursuit of their happiness?

If our two young men return in coffins, the steel-like “patriotism” of wartime counselors, generals, and presidents, will be represented by the metals decorating the uniforms concealing the horrific wounds they sustained and the local press will print the word “hero” alongside their names. But only family and the community of friends and neighbors speak of “love” and their humanity.

And it will not matter then if one perceives the other as less Black, less threatening and the other, then. An American flag will drape the Black man’s coffin, too.

And the “Black” president will continue to speak of “smart” drones because he is a “smart” man and solitary confinement or coffins is all the same means of keeping Goldman Sachs and Larry Summers in pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Barrack Obama collected, last year alone, 220 million dollars for his war chest, mostly from super PACs and independent groups (Huffington Post, January 12, 2012). Our two young men behind me, “alive,” would defend Obama.

He doesn’t want to do it, but the
“system” makes him do it.

By no means would they be alone in their defense of Obama. For the same system that destroys jobs here in the U.S. and enslaves workers in China and India, the same system that forecloses on homes, and cannot provide children here with nourishing food or proper health care, is the same “system” already grinning and speaking of better days ahead - in the next term.

Anything is better than Mitt or Rick! Obama (a martyr for the liberal cause) keeps the thuggery at bay!

What you bet, if our two working class guys vote in the farce that is the political process, they will vote for their hero, the community organizer from Chicago, (although no one dared ask him to specify which community - the community of workers or the community of capitalists).


So listen up, my sonny boy, be ready for when they come
For they’ll be returning sure as the rising sun
Now get yourself a song to sing and sing it ‘til you’re done
Yeah, sing it hard and sing it well
Send the robber barons straight to hell
The greedy thieves who came around
And ate the flesh of everything they found
Whose crimes have gone unpunished now
Who walk the streets as free men now

Ah, they brought death to our hometown, boys
Death to our hometown, boys
Death to our hometown, boys
Death to our hometown, whoa!

-Bruce Springsteen, “Death to My Hometown,” Wrecking Ball (album) Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has a Doctorate in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory. Click here to contact Dr. Daniels.

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Mar 8, 2012 - Issue 462
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