Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Unimportant but I'll note it anyway

Just after 1 AM today, someone in Austin, Texas (I have a fair idea who) became my 50,000th hit.

A small thing, I realize, but I still felt like making note of it.

(Actually, I passed 50,000 a while ago because I had a few thousand hits before I hooked up with Sitemeter, but this is the "official" crossing of that line.)

And BTW, yes I am both furious and frightened by what's been going on in St. Paul - frightened, I will say, less by the brutality, illegality, and conceited arrogance of the cops than by the cavalier attitude of the mainstream press (which is largely content to limit itself to what the cops and the city government hand them) and the almost ghoulish indifference to the implications displayed by way too many among the public (who either shrug it off as not worth noticing or, worse, celebrate the cops' assaults on both conscience and the Constitution).

There is one thing that keeps me going at times like this: historical perspective. I have recently read two books about the battle for civil liberties in 20th century America, one spanning the majority of the century and using the history of the ACLU as an organizing theme, the other concentrating on the debate over free speech in wartime during and after World War I, with the case of Eugene Debs the central focus.

The lesson I take from those two books is that things can be worse. Indeed, things have been worse and not all that long ago in historical terms. But we survived and even managed to expand our rights over time. Sometimes it was the result of the "aroused populace" we so often invoke. Other times it was legal battles. Other times it was just that it was other times and society had changed until the legal details had no choice but to get dragged along.

So yes there are dark times ahead, made darker by the pompous dismissal of "old styles of protesting" by some who damn well should know better but are too wrapped up in their sense of "importance" to the campaign of Barack Obama (or whoever would be the "liberal" Democratic standard-bearer of the moment) to think it through. But remember that the title of this blog includes the phrase "surviving a dark time." Ultimately, I think, I believe, we will. But it will not be easy and the darkness will not be lifted by an Obama win. It will be a struggle.

Even so, there can be happiness in the fight. Let's make sure that at the end, we can say with Joe Rauh, "tell them how much fun it was."

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