Among other sites, I used to frequent Alternet and Salon during my most heavy exploration of leftist ideology. As I found myself drifting more and more toward the right, such sites became hard to read. So I stopped reading. (That Salon began to charge for the privilege of reading its offerings had a great deal to do with my hit being missing from their referrers' list.)
I’m no different from a lot of people in that I have a hard time reading opinions with which I adamantly disagree. However, as I’ve rhetorically asked here, how can one develop a certain logic in one’s opinions without knowing the particulars of a corresponding opposing viewpoint?
Allah has reminded me of this by linking to an Alternet/Reuters reportage on the vast amount of protesters messing up NYC traffic. (Good thing the RNC isn’t in LA; for the protesters, that is. We LA minions do not take kindly to any entity hosing traffic any more than it already is.)
So I went to visit my long-lost friend to get some alternate opining regarding the RNC protests. There are quite a few of commentaries. Here are some excerpts from a Steven Wishnia piece, highlighting several protest groups and their grievances against the Republican party in general and George W. Bush in particular. (I’m tempted to post the whole thing, since, last I checked, Alternet opinion pieces disappear after a certain amount of time. One has to buy a given article. How very capitalist of them! I approve.)
Lewis kicked off Monday's Still We Rise march, organized by a coalition of more than 50 mostly local New York neighborhood, housing, immigrant, homeless, and AIDS groups. It drew around 10,000 people, and addressed the gritty economic realities of life in a city where the gap between the rich and the poor is as bad as it has ever been.[SNIP]
This is the New York, where, as 19-year-old Jesus Gonzalez of Brooklyn puts it, "We've got schools that look like prisons, with metal detectors and police in the halls, and prisons that look like schools, because they've got so many kids locked up."[SNIP]Who has the power to change this state of affairs? And how would the Republicans in general solve this conundrum? Should the city stop arresting law-breakers and take down the security devices that are in the NYC schools? The idea that local “makers of mischief” will cease their wrong-doing if they are allowed to have free reign is a microcosm of the idea that waging “peace” against Islamist terrorists will make the latter see the error of their ways. There are some “evil-doers” that will only stop doing evil when it becomes no longer worth their while. I’m betting that some of the kids that are attending the types of schools that Mr. Gonzalez describes have learned that lesson the easy way: by paying attention to the myriad historical examples in which appeasement of evil-doers did not work.
Homelessness in the city, he says, is up 60 percent since Bush took office, has doubled among families with children, and is likely to get a lot worse if Bush's plans to decimate the Section 8 rent-subsidy program go through.[SNIP]
"We want jobs that are worth getting," said Brandy Jones, 26, [marching for Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, sponsored by the Kensington Welfare Rights Union from Philadelphia] one of about 10 women who came up from Louisville, Kentucky. "We want day care that costs less than $100 a week. That's more than my rent." [SNIP]There are many families that need Section 8 and are making honest efforts to work toward the time when it will no longer be needed, like the woman featured in the beginning of this piece. However, there are many who view the subsidy as if were their personal right; the right to bear children out of wedlock with no visible means of support and no marketable skills becomes the right to be supported in that state by the state.
I, in my present jobless state, assert my right to reproduce—tick-tock, tick-tock; bio clock—and be supported by all of you.
Just kidding, but were I to do that, I could have a ready income in nine months. Don’t think that some misguided souls haven’t advised me thus.
And, as someone who’s nearly ready to print up fifty resumes and walk in various office buildings and say something like, “hire me, you won’t be sorry,” I’d submit that any job for which you are physically and mentally capable of performing is worth having. Those who have actually had jobs know that a foot in the door is often the key to more compensation than the small beginning hourly rate.
Joe Burrell, 29, [marching for another organization] said he became homeless about two years ago, after he lost his job in a Queens hospital and "wound up doing lots of street things, drugs and alcohol." [--Ed. Bold mine]He carried one end of the black banner for the Positive Health Project, a needle-exchange program. It's not just about needle exchange, they help you build your life back up."I’ll let that statement stand uncommented upon.
Despite the grittiness of the issues, the march was far from grim. Kori, a 24-year-old percussionist from Oakland, California, played a salsafied version of James Brown's "Funky Drummer" beat on a water jug. Scores of young Asian immigrants chant "One! We are the people! Two! A little bit louder! Three! We want justice! For the Third World!" And a bass drum and cowbell lay down a breakbeat under "If Bush had AIDS, what would he do? Find a cure, Find a cure."[--Ed. Bold mine.] [SNIP]I guess $15 billion just isn’t quite enough.
There were some middle-aged folks in the mix. Solange Schwalbe, 48, carried an American flag with the silhouette of the World Trade Center on it. A film sound editor from Los Angeles, she visited Ground Zero on her Christmas vacation in 2001, and wound up getting a job as a safety inspector "in the pit," which she called a life-changing experience. She came here to attend this year's 9/11 memorial ceremonies, but flew in early to join the protests. "The fact that the Republicans put on their convention in New York and so close to 9/11 is infuriating and insulting," she rages. "How dare they?" [--Ed. Bold mine] [SNIP]With some people, there’s just no winning. Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg asked the RNC to hold their 2004 convention in NYC. One wonders how people like Ms. Schwalbe would have opined had the RNC declined.
And, to prove that there are two sides to every story, Wishnia reports how the beating of a plainclothes NYPD officer was viewed from the other side.
As the march was about to end at Eighth Avenue and 29th Street, protesters pushed back against the barricades, and then a plainclothes detective on a motorscooter rammed into the crowd. "I thought it was some kind of maniac," says Maya Martin of Jersey City. A wave of riot cops rushed in, pushing the barricades up, penning the protesters onto the block. "We are peaceful people," the demonstrators chant. The police remain impassive, lined up five deep to block the 29th Street intersection.Two sides there are: the right one and the wrong one. It remains to be seen which one is which.