Music for the moment: "White People For Peace" by Against Me!
"The people sang protest songs to try and stop the soldier's gun"
Let's say some things to make me unpopular today.
Let's get political.
This won't sit well for those of you with children, or those of you who are a few years younger than me...
but I really think we need to reinstate the draft.
Because the youth of today doesn't feel threatened enough to make a difference.
We were at the Warped Tour a little bit ago. Against Me! played this song there, and the kids sang along. "The people sang protest songs to try and stop the soldier's gun." After the show, they went home and played video games or whatever the kids are doing these days.
They played video games while other kids the same age or just a little older than them are fighting in a war that they don't want to be in. A lot of them have been "stop-lossed" and are fighting over there for their second or third time.
A lot of these kids signed up for the army because it was a ticket out of poverty, to get an education. A lot of them were simply duped by recruiters. Some of them are there out of duty, too, feeling like they are doing the right thing. I'm in no position to tell them otherwise, sitting at a computer thousands of miles away, blogging out of self-righteous indignation.
But I can chastise the lily white suburban kids, playing video games and talking about how the war is bad.
This war is vastly unpopular, but where are the gatherings in the streets? Where are the peaceful marches on the mall in Washington?
In the '60s, not that I was there, bands played protest songs and the people responded. Where is the response today? Where are our John Sinclairs and Pun Plamundons?
(Side note - I met Sinclair and Plamundon at a reading last year. Both are still charismatic powerful speakers, and they're still speaking out.)
Bands like Anti-Flag, Against Me! and Valientt Thorr are playing songs that should have the kids united and charging into the streets, demanding an end to what's going on in Iraq, an unjust war being perpetrated by a bunch of old suits who are making a lot of money.
They won't. They're too complacent.
If we had a draft, maybe they'd get off their asses (speaking of which, at the Warped Tour, the child obesity problem was also very evident; there were large numbers of teens who are in really rough shape) and get into the streets and protest. Maybe they'd be burning their draft cards and heading to Canada rather than being shipped off to fight and possibly be killed in war they didn't agree with.
Right now, there's no risk of that, so it's easier to do nothing.
I think the government knows this, and finds it easier to repeatedly risk the lives of the troops they already have, rather than face the wrath of hoards of angry teens, backed up by their angry soccer moms, holding signs that declaring that "war is for the poor," that their kids shouldn't be called from West Bloomfield to go fight, because they're needed to take over the family banking business.
Then again, what do I know? I'm as guilty as they are. I'm not out there either. I'm just blogging about it. How's that for complacency?
Moving on... but staying political... let's talk about Critical Mass.
Critical Mass is another group I strongly believe in, and I get some flack from other cyclists who disagree with them. Granted, their methods may not be always sound, but their motives are pure.
Critical Mass is a cycling group, built around two ideas:
1. Cyclists don't impede traffic - they ARE traffic.
2. For a cyclist, there is safety in numbers.
With this in mind, they meet monthly in cities all over the world, in groups as large as 1,000, to ride.
In some places, this has lead to clashes with the authorities, like in this case that happened in NYC last Friday:
The cop singled the guy out, and bam!
The cyclist is a 29-year-old activist and an army veteran. The cop is a 22-year-old who's been on the force for all of three weeks, and made an official statement that the cyclist rode his bike straight into him, knocking them both down and causing a “laceration” on his arm.
I'm guessing he didn't know there was video.
Originally, the cyclist was charged with a few things and held for 24 hours. The video was posted anonymously on Youtube. There is now an internal investigation going.
This is part of the reason police kind of scare me. Granted, I've known a lot of cool cops, but it only takes one cop who wants to be a prick, and your life could be over. This cop could have made this guy's life hell by lying and filing assault charges, if we didn't live in the Internet age, anyway.