My dear friend Rita B. was a real stalwart activist. She was 70 something, had emphysema , and still came out each and every week to stand with us. We stood ( and still stand ) each Tuesday at rush hour on a busy corner of our town. We hold signs opposing the occupations of Iraq & Afghanistan, and we call for peace. We have been out there going on 6 years now, forced to take a slight hiatus before and after the ‘ 08 elections . Why? Well, ask the many Democrats who made up our ranks. It seems they simply would not stand against policies that their party was condoning. Now that Mr. Obama has shown everyone just where he stands on foreign policy, some Democrats have returned to our corner… Not yet enough ! Rita, before she passed away in ‘ 07, was vehement in her disdain for the party she supported her entire adult life. After the Democrats took control of Congress and did nothing about the run-up to the invasion of Iraq ( no hearings as Rep. Conyors promised us ) Rita was livid. I recall our phone conversation a few weeks before she died. She told me ‘ Philip, I will never again vote for a Democrat, unless he or she is like Dennis Kucinich. I hope the Republicans win; perhaps then the Democrats will finally realize how hypocritical and phony they have become! ‘ Rita would never have supported Mr. Obama either. His rhetoric was just that… Rhetoric!
My dear departed friend also had some words to say about others in our community who ‘ Talk the talk but won’t walk the walk ‘ . She was a member of the Unitarians for many years. She had been with them during the civil rights struggles and the anti Vietnam War protests. Before she passed on, Rita became disenchanted with the Unitarians of our area. ‘ Philip, I stopped going to their church, and I refuse to give any more money to them. I always donated to them, and now it is over! They ignore my pleas to them to become active on this Iraq situation. They won’t come out and stand with us or come to our meetings. I am tired of their lip service! ‘ When she died, the Unitarians came out in force to honor Rita… But never to our street corner to take up her mantle.
So we stand, a handful of us, each and every week. We hold meetings once a month at the library, attracting again but a handful. The cars flow by us each Tuesday, and many folks honk and wave support. When, in God’s name, will they realize that we are not out there to represent them. We are there to invite them to join us. In France, in Spain, in Greece, millions march and protest government policies…. Especially when those policies are hurting the average working stiff. Yet, here in America, progressives are always so proper. We think that the vote is what counts. The Fat Cats and their ‘ College of corporations ‘ use that knowledge to control and manipulate us. They know that by owning both political parties, and by subverting any viable third party movements, they cannot lose. So long as the public refuses to join with folks like us, then the Fat Cats win. They divide us by Red State vs. Blue State and Republican vs. Democrat hogwash! They use our taxes to subsidize this Military Industrial Complex to the tune of hundreds of billions each year. They bail out phony and corrupt Fat Cat bankers to the tune of one trillion tax dollars, and they watch us scrape and scrounge for the crumbs. Instead of street corners filled with Rita B, we have a stupid and ill advised Tea Party of fools who blame it all on illegal aliens and Big Government. The same big government that takes 48 cents out of each dollar they pay in federal tax to continue this empire of phony wars and 800 plus military bases worldwide.
So when the current economic downturn soon after becomes a downfall , it may be too late for protest to have influence. Now is the time for all good people to…. Or have no one to blame but yourselves!
Philip A. Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn NYC longshoremen. He is an activist leader and free lance columnist. Since the 2000 elections, he has written over 200 columns, many posted on various sites worldwide. Recently, he is finding a home at www.dandelionsalad.wordpress.com, or at his own blog at www.opensalon.com. Philip can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.