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  1.  (10239.41)
    @ James Puckett--Words matter. The reason "illegal immigrant" is so effective as a catchphrase is that it's based on the unspoken cultural assumption that if somebody did something that's against the law (i.e. illegal), then that person needs to be punished for it. Conceiving of extenuating circumstances that resulted in those peoples' current legal status (See Argos' examples) becomes that much harder for the listener.
  2.  (10239.42)
    Incidentally, if one needs a good summation of what the Occupy Wall Streeters are fighting for and why, this summation might be a good place to start.

    I'm surprised the Occupy Wall Streeters, though, aren't citing the UK struggles earlier this year against university fee hikes and the whole Tory dismantle the social contract agenda.
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2011
     (10239.43)
    My other argument is that is overshadows the merits they DO have. Some of them have college degrees and volunteer whenever they can to improve their community, where some natural born citizens just their unemployment money to buy more drugs. By using the term "illegal," you strip them of the contributions they DO make to the community to define them by that one detail in their lives, criminalizing them to the degree where being an illegal immigrant is just inexcusable, even in the cases of leaving a dangerous and life-threatening home country.

    I'm not saying there aren't illegal immigrants who aren't criminals, there are many. And yes, the fact that someone immigrated illegally isn't something to take lightly, it's a huge offense. BUT, sometimes there are other good merits to the person that can define them, besides just that one act. And like I said, in the case of DREAM act eligible youth, they never consciously made the decision or consciously made the action to immigrate illegally, or overstay their visa, or whatever. Sometimes it's imposed upon them by their parents. Does that really make them a criminal? Illegal/undocumented immigrant, yes, but criminal? No.
  3.  (10239.44)
    But here's why I'm confused. It's not like there's a cooking show, and the best chef is being referred to as "an illegal". When the term "illegal" is used, it's in reference to the population of people who have immigrated illegally as a demographic. It's not discussing whether someone has a college education, or has any other merit. That's not the focus of the conversation. If I am talking about people in prison, I'd call them "inmates" or "criminals" because they live in a prison and have commited crimes. That's not to say that they might not be wonderful parents, have a fabulous education, or were forced into a situation where they'd little opportunities other than to turn to illegal activities. When you are talking about a group of people, you will refer to them by the term that groups them. Sure, many immigrants are well educated and contributing members of society, but by using the term "illegal" that's not being stripped away.

    If I were to refer to ex-convicts in a discussion about job placement, or regarding the population of people who'd been incarcerated as a large percetnage of the American population, using the term "ex-con" would be totally applicable. "The ability for ex-cons to find jobs is depressingly daunting." That doesn't mean ex-convicts have no merits, nor that there aren't a HUGE number of ex-convicts that were wrongfully incarcerated, nor that most ex-convicts were put in jail for victimless crimes of drug possession and are wonderful human beings. I'd still refer to them, as a group, as "ex-cons."

    Honestly, I think the abbreviation of "illegal immigrant" to simply "illegals" has more to do with the new-speak land of twitter and newsbites than it has to do with slander or an anti-Mexican outlook. When listening to the BBC, illegal immigrants in Holland, France, England, are referred to as "illegals". Not liking the way a group of people is represented, feeling they are being shown in a one-dinemsional manner, doesn't make the word used to refer to them as inappropriate.

    And like I said, in the case of DREAM act eligible youth, they never consciously made the decision or consciously made the action to immigrate illegally, or overstay their visa, or whatever. Sometimes it's imposed upon them by their parents. Does that really make them a criminal? Illegal/undocumented immigrant, yes, but criminal? No.


    But those individuals you'd mentioned are still in the United States illegally. The issue, which does have merit, is that it is important to know who is coming in and out of the country's borders, and know who is staying. Living in the United States without being a citizen, permanent resident, or visa holder, etc is a crime, so people who are doing so are technically criminals, even if they didn't do so knowingly. If I threw a piano out my window without knowing that someone was standing below, I'd kill someone unknowingly. I could still go to jail for it, even though I didn't know. I'd still be a convicted of a crime.

    Smoking marijuana is illegal. By smoking mariuana I am taking part in criminal activity, so I a criminal for smoking weed. I might think that's stupid, and that the laws should be changed, but that is how the laws are structured at the moment.

    I'm not trying to be insensitive, I just think that the problem has nothing to do with the words used, but rather, the attitude and misconceptions of the people who are loudest and most offensive. The term "woman" can sound slanderous when coming out of the wrong mouth.
    • CommentAuthoricelandbob
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2011
     (10239.45)
    • CommentAuthor256
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2011
     (10239.46)
    @Miranda
    I'm surprised the Occupy Wall Streeters, though, aren't citing the UK struggles earlier this year against university fee hikes and the whole Tory dismantle the social contract agenda.

    Perhaps best not to, since those protests met with absolute failure.
    • CommentAuthorBankara
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2011
     (10239.47)
    I live in NYC and I keep getting asked by folks what is going on down there and I have to answer that I haven't gone down to check it out in person because I am pretty jaded with protest culture in general because it just seems ineffective. People go, march, yell, and carry a million different signs protesting everything unrelated to the actual professed cause of the day and go home feeling better about themselves and nothing seems to change. The system in place just doesn't register the protest, it is a feel good measure at best, a societal release valve at worst. These people are perceived as being not worth listening to here in NYC because they are not seen as voters or people worth listening to. They are the fringe. I agree that it would be a hell of a lot more effective if it was masses of families, workers, and regular folks. It could be like the Velvet Revolution if it was because the cops could not dismiss them as being social invalids, malcontents, cranks, or hippies. They would see them on equal terms and perhaps respect them more or at lest think twice before cracking skulls. The NYPD has a pretty bad track record with this type of thing. I was at the RNC protests and the March 15 protests agaginst the war in Afghanistan after 9/11 and the police simply created a maze that was impossible to navigate, corralled people into pens, and then came in swinging on horseback. During the RNC they appropriated the fucking Fuji blimp to act as 'eyes in the skies' above midtown. An airborne command center to more perfectly see the movements of crowds and contain them. I had a lot of friends who were arrested, most of them were legal observers, photojournalists, and uninvolved parties. The NYPD does not care, they are interested only in dissuading people from protesting or even observing the protests. In my case, I suppose it worked since I no longer see the point of protesting in NYC due to these back-handed tactics they use to intimidate, arrest, and abuse people who are otherwise peacefully exercising their rights to assembly.
    I wish this thing would begin to attract a crowd of the disenfranchised republicans who were fucked by Bush's disastrous policies. Then maybe we would have something, if there were elements from both sides of the political spectrum here in the states who have been hurt by Wall Street's single minded pursuit of profit at all costs.
  4.  (10239.48)
    Here's a thought:

    Maybe the problem with the American Left is the fact that people who seem to consider themselves leftists do absolutely nothing but discuss the problems with the American Left.

    I have to wonder where the line is between realism, cynicism, and a rationalization for complacency.

    I never would have expected Whitechapel to be a place where such a question was even relevant, though.
    •  
      CommentAuthoroddbill
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2011 edited
     (10239.49)
    I never would have expected Whitechapel to be a place where such a question was even relevant, though.


    Why? This has never been a forum dominated by unthinking agreement to any political ideology. This, and the comments of Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog are the only two places I know of online where I can actually engage in discussions with people who have different opinions that don't devolve into ideological blusterfests.

    It is not surprising to me at all the street protests are not automatically romanticized here.
  5.  (10239.50)
    It surprises me because this strikes me as an astonishing amount of cynicism for cynicism's sake. Again, I would ask: at what point does cynicism become simply a rationalization for a total lack of will to do anything? That isn't ideological bluster at all; I think it's a concept that really isn't being discussed at all in our culture, despite its pervasive effects--see: widespread voter apathy.

    It's not a question of whether or not the protests are being automatically romanticized. Some of the criticisms are quite valid, and it's important to analyze the protests as the complex entity they are. But what I have widely observed is outright dismissal, often for rather spurious reasons. That is what I'm surprised to be seeing here.
    •  
      CommentAuthorArtenshiur
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2011
     (10239.51)
    . Living in the United States without being a citizen, permanent resident, or visa holder, etc is a crime, so people who are doing so are technically criminals, even if they didn't do so knowingly.


    This may sound like a nitpick, but I think it's one worth making: living in the US illegally is not per se a crime. Illegal entry is a crime, but outstaying your visa is a civil violation of federal law. They are not criminals.
    •  
      CommentAuthorJon Wake
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2011
     (10239.52)
    RE: Unjust Laws

    It should surprise no one that many of the laws in the United States and abroad are unjust, that is to say, saddled with a punishment that far outstrips the damage caused. To simply turn a blind eye to these laws, to let those in authority abuse their power is nothing more than social cowardice. Sometimes violating a law is an act of civil disobedience, as is drawing attention the unjust nature of that law.

    RE: Police Brutality

    Power, in and of itself, does not always corrupt. Power, combined with unaccountability, always leads to corruption. I wish I could say that there was once a golden time when police brutality was rare, but in all likelihood it's better now than it has been for a hundred years. This should not make you feel good. The problem is essentially the same as in gang culture: policework is a genuine subculture with mores and values that are not in line with the mainstream. Penetrating that culture is far more daunting that with a gang, however, as that there is a official bureaucracy dedicated towards the preservation of the 'thin blue line', as well as a huge population of people who sincerely believe that hordes of crack addicts are waiting to rape and murder them if the police can't carry M16s.

    Re: The Fall of the Left

    The popular perception that the Left is a divided, unfocused and childish collection of weekend warriors is partly an invention and partly a self-fulfilling prophecy. Clinton was the final nail in the coffin, pushing neo-liberalism, dismantaling the social safety net and squeezing out the trade unions under the auspice of Modern Liberalism, which looked suspiciously like Conservatism. When Milt Freidman became the go to guy for fiscal policy, the real Left, that motley collection of unions, intellectuals and bleeding hearts essentially gave up on the political process. The Media finished it off by openly mocking any attempt to point out the flaws in neo-liberalism. It was supposed to make us all rich, right? When one of the largest mass protests in history is dismissed as a bunch of hippies having a riot in Seattle, you've effectively neutered the entire idea of a protest.

    It also doesn't help that liberals are all too aware at how powerful the wealthy have become. Knowing that the Koch brothers can buy whole elections, that lobbyists can write laws and bankers can rob wantonly and get away with it fills you with impotent anger that is too easily masked with effete cynicism.

    I am a Marxist, of a reformed sort. I think that workers should own the means of production, that capital is intrinsically exploitative, and free markets tend towards monopolies. I believe that we have been hoodwinked into thinking that vicious competition is the natural order of things when science and history tells us otherwise. I think the left has lost its center, but that center can return when the need is great. I believe that protests disrupt, and we can have a revolution of conscience without a shot being fired.

    I'm not young enough to by cynical anymore.
    •  
      CommentAuthoroddbill
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2011
     (10239.53)
    Suppose we start from the premises that:

    1) The financial industry as currently composed values ever increasing short term monetary returns over long term gradually increasing general prosperity
    2) For humanity at large, General Prosperity > Monetary Returns
    3) Prosperity also encompasses, to a large degree, many scales of wealth other than monetary, for example: health, companionship, joy, meaningfulness
    4) Assignment of primacy to monetary scales in social interactions is generally destructive of parallel scales of value
    5) Our society currently assigns primacy to the monetary scale

    What is the best way to counter this?

    I don't have pat answers to this. One of the things I think:

    Start a business and own it. DO NOT SELL IT. Run a business in your community with the goal of making a living for yourself and employing a couple of your neighbors. Make decisions in your business that favor the long term prosperity of you and your employees first, and the community in which you are located second. RETAIN OWNERSHIP!

    As soon as you sell for a payout, or sell shares in order to raise money to expand, you have yoked your endeavor to the legally enforced treadmill of always increasing shareholder value. Don't have shareholders. FUCK Shareholders. Make something cool, sell it for a profit, hire some people to make more of it and pay them from the profit. Rinse, repeat.

    It is not a sexy or glamorous life, but it works.

    If a lot of people would just do that, the gdp would probably suffer, but the effective prosperity of people in the US would probably increase. Economists would pretend they predicted that all along.
    •  
      CommentAuthorvoyou
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2011
     (10239.54)
    Start a business and own it. DO NOT SELL IT. Run a business in your community with the goal of making a living for yourself and employing a couple of your neighbors. Make decisions in your business that favor the long term prosperity of you and your employees first, and the community in which you are located second.
    Go out of business when Walmart opens a store down the street.

    TBH, this strikes me as more naive than the Occupy Wall Street protesters. They are, albeit vaguely and without much thought for strategy, trying to do something about the way the current emphasis on money and profits is enforced (through the power of the law or of money). Your suggestion reads like you think that you can ignore or opt out of these enforcement mechanisms, but that doesn't seem realistic to me.
    •  
      CommentAuthorDoc Ocassi
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2011 edited
     (10239.55)
    Hello again Cynicism.

    How about analyzing Bill's post on it's merits, and not on the reaction it will get from an unrepresentative society.
    •  
      CommentAuthoroddbill
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2011
     (10239.56)
    They are, albeit vaguely and without much thought for strategy, trying to do something about the way the current emphasis on money and profits is enforced (through the power of the law or of money).


    But, even vaguely, what are they doing? Really? In what actual way are they doing anything about the way the current emphasis on money and profits is enforced? Do you even know what you mean in saying that phrase? Who is enforcing what emphasis on money or profits?

    Your suggestion reads like you think that you can ignore or opt out of these enforcement mechanisms, but that doesn't seem realistic to me.


    Do you live in a community? Are there businesses there that are not large chain stores? It is almost certain that those businesses are not traded on the stock market and do employ local people.

    There are hundreds of thousands of private companies in the United States. Almost all the job growth that occurs happens in small businesses, which are mostly privately owned companies. A privately owned company is not traded on any public stock market. It does not have shareholders, and is not beholden to them by law. It can make long term strategic decisions that cause it to suffer flat or negative growth in short term cycles without going under or having to sell in order to avoid legal liability.

    This is not radical or even unusual. It is so realistic that it is in fact the way most businesses run.

    Pretty much the best thing you can do for your community economically is to start a business, nurture it to profitability, retain ownership and employ a couple of people. Walmart does not do everything people need, much as it might like to. Thousands and thousands of active, profitable local businesses prove otherwise every day.

    When you are a generator of local wealth and prosperity, DO NOT SELL. It isn't that hard not to sell, and nobody can force you to. Really, they can't. Band together with other local businesses and promote political action together that will benefit your community.

    The fact that what I've described above even sounds naive to you is a testament to how little anyone actually pays attention to how the economy actually works.
  6.  (10239.57)
    I live in NYC and I keep getting asked by folks what is going on down there and I have to answer that I haven't gone down to check it out in person because I am pretty jaded with protest culture in general because it just seems ineffective. People go, march, yell, and carry a million different signs protesting everything unrelated to the actual professed cause of the day and go home feeling better about themselves and nothing seems to change.


    When my mom was in the hospital in St. Paul, after having her stroke, the Republican 2008 convention was going on. Between them and the massive amounts of protesters (some of whom classified themselves as "anarchists"; oh... the bleeding, dripping irony) it was honestly hard to get into the hospital to see her. Then, once you were there, it would sometimes take hours to get out of the city because so many streets were blocked off. It was a really unique experience for me because I came out of it hating protestors (not all, mind you) AND Republicans. Everyone has their pet fucking causes. And when two large groups of jackasses get together with opposing views they can effectively shut a city down. Sorry, but there's a fucking society that has to run here. There's people who need to use the hospitals and buses and markets.

    Granted, obviously I was not an impartial observer there.

    And in general I'm all for peaceful protests.

    I think a bigger issue here is that we don't really live in a democracy, which is why protesting never seems to do anything. When corporations write your tax code, essentially, not your politicians, democracy left the room. Much of the way the United States, and World, works is all about money. Nothing more or less.
  7.  (10239.58)
    For starters, regardless of the message or goal of the protest, they should dress themselves in such a way as to be taken seriously. Drop counter-culture fashion statements because that's what people expect to see and they've already established preconceptions. Besides, that fashion stopped being a statement long ago. Even the look of punk rock quickly became a fabrication and a style void of meaning. And no Guy Fawkes masks. Discard the Anon imagery.

    CO-OPT and SUBVERT the image of Wall Street. Wear suits and ties.

    Or as stated here on Reddit: wear khakis and polos. Personally, i think a protest gathering of suits and ties would be far more visually impressive.

    I both support the Occupy movement but I'm also skeptical of its longevity. There's a big difference between skepticism and cynicism. If the Occupy movement continues to be nothing more than just one more stop on an activist bandwagon where new passengers keep piling more luggage on to it, it will not go anywhere.

    It needs direction and leadership and focus and that's not going to come from Anonymous. I know they're the darling digital folk-heroes of the internet, but the reality of romanticized folk heroes are that they are rarely heroic or even for the folk. I realize that's a whole other discussion, but I can't help notice how attention has bounced from one thing to another in the past year. In just the past month it's jumped from BART to the OCCUPY movement. It looks like playing media hopscotch from one social issue to the next to keep their name in the press and leading a bunch of folks along for the ride. I'd like to find out that I'm wrong about that because I initially supported the idea of Anon but not anymore given some of the tactics they embraced in the past year.

    Regardless, I do think it's still important to protest and march...but do it with pride and a strong visual presence. It's VERY easy for the press and politicians to make protesters and marchers look irrelevant, aimless, pointless, or violent and scary. Take that away from them and it's a step closer to getting a message heard.
    • CommentAuthorBankara
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2011
     (10239.59)
    ^*THIS*^


    Frank Zappa will show you how it is done.
  8.  (10239.60)
    @Sonny:

    I think that might be part of the point, actually--to shut society down. This is why the Wallstreet protest strikes me as such a radical departure from the protests we've seen so far--it's [intended to be] a long scale occupation not of a governmental institution but a financial one. Which makes sense, since it's the financial sector that seems to be really calling the shots. So, shutting down that society makes sense.

    I wonder if there is a way to effectively shut down just Wallstreet while allowing the rest of New York to go about its business, though. I think your reaction to having the city deadlocked by protests is probably a common and totally reasonable one, and it really does work against the goal of elevating the regular schmucks. After all, I imagine it's difficult to run your Small Local Business if the entire city is kind of shut down. That's just counterproductive.

    With that in mind...

    @Oddbill:

    That's the kind of creative solution I come here to see.

    How about this thought, expanding off of your point:

    I know these guys are getting donations so that they can keep occupying the street, but where does that money go? Where does food come from, for example? If the protestors are buying food individually, where are they going? I've seen the charge leveled at the protest that people are funding the corporations they're protesting against. In some cases that's inevitable--they're going to depend upon things like camera companies no matter what.

    But food is a different story.

    What if someone set up a simple, easily readable map of local stores and restaurants in New York? I mean, surely there are people that don't have the tech to just look this stuff up, and I'm willing to bet that people would rather be grabbing their food and getting back to the protest rather than wandering around New York looking for someplace they can eat without instantly turning into a flaming hypocrite.

    One of the interesting facets of this, I think, is that in the absence of central organization, anyone can step in and introduce improvements to the methods. It's just a matter of putting the ideas out there and trying them out. If this remains long-term, we may see a sort of protest darwinism at work, with the best ideas slowly rising to the top. That, alone, is kind of exciting.

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