By Rowan C. Millar
WTO Protest Has Links With The Past..........
Recent events in Seattle have led some to look back to
times gone by for answers. Answers are hard to find in
this situation, a situation where hundreds of peaceful
protesters with support from the president were treated
horrifically by the Seattle Police and the other battalions
that were brought in. As police used more and more brute
force in Seattle, protesters began chanting "The whole
world is watching!" in reference to the numerous television
and video cameras about. Nary a soul out there knew the
roots of their chant.
The first time that chant was used was in downtown Chicago
in 1968. The situation was much the same. There was a large
organized event, in this case the Democratic National
Convention, and a larger underground event was created
around it in the city streets by the radical left, mostly
youth, from all across America. Radicals such as David
Dillinger and Tom Hayden were in attendance, as well as
Allen Ginsbergh and the Zippies and whatnot. In both cases
the protester's demands were varied but almost all protest
was peaceful, and in both cases the police brutalized them.
"The whole world is watching!" was a spontaneous chant that
got going at one of the peaks of violence in Chicago, where
huge Chicago Police were grabbing anybody they could and
beating them senseless. I've seen a bit of the footage of
it that the whole world was watching and I can tell you, it
looked like a war with only one side fighting.
Who started the parallel chant in Washington, I don't know,
but it certainly was a poignant statement, and one that
deserves looking into. How are we different from how we were
then, as a country? I think some people believed that the
press coverage of the 1968 convention would put an end to
such abuses of power. It may have had some effect to that
end, but obviously incompletely. My sister was in Seattle
protesting, and I would've been too, if I hadn't gotten a
false snowstorm report a few days prior. There are questions
I have about the morality of protesting in the street and
holding up traffic and such, but beyond any of that, how
can these cops get away with beating up America's children?
I pray that this time around, with times changed and the
Baby Boomers in more positions of power, there will be even
more public outrage and productive thought.
In the case of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, I
think it's fairly well agreed upon that much of the violence
had roots in class struggle. The cops, for the most part,
were young men without much economic prospect in life, without
much exposure to the intellectual and political worlds. The
protesters were generally middle class to upper middle class
youths, who were generally in college or had graduated from
college or had dropped out of college. These were people who
had the bourgeois world at their fingertips, but chose to
look beyond it. These cops had little trouble developing a
terrible hatred of the protesters, hippy types that they were.
What created that predisposition to hatred is not entirely
clear, but it seems to fit in with the atrocities in Seattle.
Until we solve problems like these, I won't have the heart to
tell anarchists that this system is good and just or that
they're wrong in tearing it down. And that is something I'd
very much like the ability to say.
By Rowan Millar
Rowan is a Gen Y'er living in Silicon Valley. He has a
personal interest in history of the 60's and Boomers
Generation. Rowan will be writing articles for us and
representing the voice of Generation Y on Boomers
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