Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Response to Frank Miller from One of Chicago’s "300."

It’s difficult to decide where to begin picking apart Frank Miller’s “argument.” One could begin with the blatant racism, Islamophobia, or perhaps the anti-poor, pro-militarist language, maybe even sentence structure as it lacks any coherence and laps at drunkeness. In any case, he fancies himself a political commentator ergo he necessitates an equally political response.  To quote The Thing, from Fantastic Four, here, “It’s Clobberin’ time!”

If you combine all of those who have been arrested defending Occupy Chicago- we broach just over 300 persons. We were arrested whilst peacefully assembled, invoking our first amendment rights, protesting the economic and social inequality in our country. We had democratically made a decision two weeks in a row to attempt at holding an encampment- debate and dissent were had numerous times- and general assemblies were kept on-point and rousing during these discussions. We say all of this because interestingly enough none of our experiences, or any gleaned from the reports of others’ around the globe reflects even the slightest of Frank Miller’s insane account. He writes, ““Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness.”

Really, Frank? This assessment, if you can call it that - is absolutely bunk. The occupy movement is comprised of teachers, veterans, students, journalists, computer programmers, baristas, bus drivers, and many more organized & unorganized workers (many with multiple jobs), and YES the unemployed- because if you haven’t noticed (crawl out from under that loony rock sometime and you might) the national unemployment average has doubled in the past 35 years. We are the 99%, so yeah that means some of us have been through the corrupt prison system, but violence is never tolerated in our movement and it is incorrect to call us anything but peaceful, democratic hubs of protest and direct action. If you want to see rapists in Chicago- you can head down to the 23rd District police station and meet Officers Clavijo and Vasquez who were indicted on counts of sexual assault and rape while on duty.

Oh, but Frank doesn’t stop there. He goes on to spew, ““Occupy” is nothing short of a clumsy, poorly-expressed attempt at anarchy, to the extent that the “movement” – HAH! Some “movement”, except if the word “bowel” is attached - is anything more than an ugly fashion statement by a bunch of iPhone, iPad wielding spoiled brats who should stop getting in the way of working people and find jobs for themselves.” Okay, wait a second, so us occupiers can simultaneously be spoiled youths and be old enough to remember what longing for Woodstock feels like?

Holy Toledo batty-man, what are you talking about? Apparently only you can blog about the latest news- you realize that technology has progressed beyond the rotary, right? We were bound to use the existing means of communication to disseminate our message of peaceful dissent against the inequitable status quo from the onset. Since us “losers” are going “back to [our] momma’s basements” because we’re over fifty-grand in student loan debt, can’t find work, and have to take care of dad because his job just made some cut backs to health benefits-we’ll just use Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr to slam this unjust economic system while we’re at it.

And if that’s not bad enough, Miller also alludes to a dark, vicious “other” chomping at the heels of an unwary America: “Wake up, pond scum. America is at war with a ruthless enemy… And this enemy of mine –not yours apparently – must be getting a dark chuckle – if not an outright horse laugh- out of your vain, childish, self-destructive spectacle.”

Yeah, we got quite an eye full of your concept of our brothers and sisters half-a-world away in the graphic novel 300 and its 2006 film adaptation.  And yes Frank, you can keep the blatant orientalist stereotypes, and curmudgeonly goblins all to yourself.  This is absolutely your fantasy. And it’s a sick fantasy at that. Occupy on the other hand, is inspired by the people’s struggle that has broken out across the Middle East and North Africa. 

Here in Chicago, we had our own 300: the three hundred activists who faced arrest hoping to ensure that our occupation had a home. Brave women and men stood up to local tyrant Rahm Emanuel's command to simply ‘obey’ and then flung back at his feet their rights to free speech and assembly. Maybe it’s a stretch to compare those activists to Leonidas and his 300, whom Miller erroneously credits with saving democracy by delaying a Persian emperor’s advance on Ancient Greece, but the association is somewhat valid. If the Ancient Greeks gave us democracy, then Occupy is reinventing it - restoring it from the idolatry of finance, building upon a participatory democratic tradition (this time without all the slavery -chattel, wage or otherwise). And Occupiers will defend that project from all villains, be they Rahm Emanuel… or you Frank.

Perhaps we can admit to a moment of disquiet when pop idol Miley Cyrus (no relation to the founder of the Persian Empire - Cyrus the Great) came out in support of the Occupy movement and you Frank, a renowned graphic writer, spat invective all over it. Then again, let’s face facts Mr. Miller; your crazy is nothing new… we’re sadly only too familiar with the visceral urge to bandage our poverty by hocking your titles at the nearest used book store every time you decide to get your Rorschach on. In the meantime, we know who our friends are, and kudos to Miley Cyrus for giving pop music some much needed social consciousness.

As far as Occupy goes: Bat Chick had it right in The Dark Knight Strikes Again when she said, “We’re looking at a seismic cultural shift here, with profound political consequences.” And let’s go ahead and admit that there’s a contradiction in taking inspiration from the same pen that is attempting to poison our movement. Or maybe, you Frank should take a close look at your own text about youth revolt against tyrants. Regardless, Occupy is what we’ve been waiting for - our own sense of power, a seismic cultural shift from the politics of the 1% to those of the 99. The shift was profound and it is here to stay.

Bad luck Frank, do try to soldier on
… or don’t. 

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