From 1968's Easy Rider (screenplay by the late Terry Southern):
George (Jack Nicholson): You know, this used to be a helluva good country. I can't understand what's gone wrong with it.
Billy (Dennis Hopper): Huh. Man, everybody got chicken, that's what happened, man. Hey, we can't even get into like, uh, second-rate hotel, I mean, a second-rate motel. You dig? They think we're gonna cut their throat or something, man. They're scared, man.
George: Oh, they're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to 'em.
Billy: Hey man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody needs a haircut.
George: Oh no. What you represent to them is freedom.
Billy: What the hell's wrong with freedom, man? That's what it's all about.
George: Oh yeah, that's right, that's what it's all about, all right. But talkin' about it and bein' it - that's two different things. I mean, it's real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. 'Course, don't ever tell anybody that they're not free 'cause then they're gonna get real busy killin' and maimin' to prove to you that they are. Oh yeah, they're gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom, but they see a free individual, it's gonna scare 'em.
Billy: Mmmm, well, that don't make 'em runnin' scared.
George: No, it makes 'em dangerous.
The film came out in 1968, the year Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were killed. The Vietnam War was in high gear. We tend to think the hell-in-a-handbasket direction of our country is very recent, when in fact we have been invading the wrong countries and voting the wrong way for quite a few years now. Doris Granny D Haddock's 95th birthday speech, printed in the current edition of Democracy Week, lays out the long term cure for a long term illness. It's worth a read: http://DemocracyWeek.org
The idea of romancing the American protest movement as a Velvet Revolution, American-style, seems to gaining purchase, as you'll read in her remarks. Blogger Brad Friedman (http://BradBlog.com
) has joined forces with several other blogger and indy news sources to create http://velvetrevolution.us
, which seems to be taking names and preparing for what they hope to be a grand collaboration between protest elements.
The Left is remarkably difficult to organize, however. Its anti-authoritarian bent makes it distrust its own leaders, always looking for fatal imperfections.
Mr. Friedman agrees but sees hope: "There are factions within [the Left] that do (and should!) resist. But I'm quite certain that there is a hunger now for such leadership. Even if there will be spats, disagreements, and if the process of truly organizing gets a bit unruly, as I mentioned, revolutions are messy," he told us.
"It's not quite as easy for the Left to snap into perfect marching form. But, if anything, that's what the movement is about. Freedom," he continued.
"What we have learned (or at least I have) over the past two months or so, is that leadership is desperately sought right now. Our ad hoc groups made tremendous progress over the past weeks. Accomplishing the invocation of an arcane Constitutional provision for only the second time in well over one hundred years [the objection to the Electoral votes cast from Ohio in Congress] was nothing short of miraculous, given the disparate nature of all the folks working on these issues," Mr. Friedman said.
He expanded: "Imagine what we could do if we all came together! At least with an umbrella organization set up to *support* all of the disparate efforts. Not to drive them, or create them, or to force them on anybody. But rather to be able to turn on a dime and funnel people and resources and attention and money to those small groups...or even those single citizens who are doing something so important for democracy, but need the power of the people behind them. That's what I hope Velvet Revolution will be able to do."
Why is he pursuing this new approach?
"Bloggers like myself, at least for now, aren't privileged to receive a paycheck. We do what we do -- or at least I do what I do -- not because I want to, but because I feel as if I have no choice. Believe me, I would rather be doing *anything* but what I find myself doing (via both BRAD BLOG and Velvet Revolution), but I truly feel that if I don't do these things, they won't get done. Unfortunately, I feel that our democracy demands that they get done."
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