Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

Inspiration: D.C. Mayor Arrested for Act of Civil Disobedience

Publicity stunt or not, this took some guts:

On Monday, [Mayor Vincent Gray] and others sat down and blocked traffic on Washington’s busy Constitution Avenue near the Capitol before being arrested and held until the early hours of Tuesday. …

Gray said he didn’t have any guarantees that activism by citizens would work, but he added that change comes about when people get frustrated enough to take action, making analogies to the civil rights movement, the movement to give women the right to vote and recent events in Egypt and Libya. …

Gray and other city leaders said that Washington became a pawn in last week’s budget negotiations. It appears that a deal members of Congress reached Friday to avert a federal government shutdown included provisions that ban the district from spending its own, city-collected tax money to pay for abortions for poor women. The deal would also re-establish a school voucher program that has divided city leaders.

Let’s put this into perspective.  First of all, the issue at stake  is rather bizarre, and illustrates the corrupt nature of our political system.  Why would a federal budget bill include stipulations regarding how a city can spend its own, independently acquired tax dollars?  And more importantly, why specifically target a program which helps impoverished women obtain abortions, or a needle exchange program which stems the spread of HIV?  Clearly, we are observing a recurring theme:  any program which aids the poor and underprivileged must go, regardless of that program’s source of funding.

It seems likely that Gray’s recourse to civil disobedience had more to do with the larger issues here than the specifics.  Gray and other residents of D.C. were outraged by the federal government imposing restrictions on how they spend their own tax dollars.  Obviously, if I were a resident of D.C. I would likely be upset as well, and Gray deserves kudos for taking his complaints into the streets of public protest. But this theme of government funding – whether federal or local – for abortions is repeated ad nauseam in the mainstream media, and it begs the question:  Is this really such a crucial issue?   With all of the critical issues we face today, is a few hundred million dollars that may or not wind up being used to fund abortions really so important?  Or is it just a distraction?

First let me make it clear that I am – though I loathe the associated terminology – pro-choice.  In spite of what religious fanatics and Republicans everywhere try to imply, sensible people do not frivolously obtain abortions at whim.  Of course no one wants to have an abortion, but there are, without question, certain circumstances in which they are absolutely necessary – whether for medical, personal or practical reasons.  But honestly, is the paltry amount of federal funding used in relation to abortions such a critical issue?  Absolutely not.

Both politicians and the MSM use issues such as federal funding for abortions to keep us distracted.  Yes, we need to find a way to offer safe, sanitary abortion services to those who require it but cannot afford it otherwise.  But it is hardly the defining issue of our time.  When we focus our energy, attention and outrage on despicable attempts by Republicans to strip away such funding, we ignore the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Libya.  We forget about the disastrously bloated military budget, the continuing practice of torture and extraordinary rendition, the ongoing collapse of the social safety net at home, the lack of adequate, universal health care, the dilapidated educational system and the rapidly crumbling infrastructure.  Yes, abortion is an important issue, but it isn’t the important issue, or even one of the most important issues.  It’s just issue of many others, and we need to stop allowing the MSM to distract us into thinking otherwise.

But let’s return to Vincent Gray, and the somewhat historic precedent the arrest of a mayor of a major U.S. city – the capital city, no less – has set.  Regardless of his motivations, we need more action like this from people and politicians around the nation.  We need more elected officials willing to take the streets in support of their beliefs and the values of their constituents, and we as the people to stand side by side with them, even if it means facing police harassment and arrest.  Gray was absolutely correct in comparing the situation here to that of countries across the Middle East, such as Egypt and Libya.  We have, by and large, lost our democracy, but it’s not too late to reclaim it.  If we reject the status quo and the absurdly corrupt system which maintains it, and begin to think and act outside the painfully restricted parameters of the current political system, we just might have some hope of changing it.

Boycott the RepubliDems, boycott the corporations.  Take to the streets, peacefully, and reclaim America.


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