Allegany College has awarded its Civility in Public Life Award to Mark Shields and David Brooks of the PBS Newshour. http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/mark-shields-and-david-brooks-presented-with-civil-discourse-award_b113524 The two persistently appear, representing the progressive and conservative sides of an argument, while remaining civil. They may be impassioned, and even stubborn. They always remain civil. That's a good example for all of us.
It may not immediately come to mind, especially for younger members of OWS, that the one percent, and especially the conservatives without wealth who follow them, are increasingly in the position of cornered animals who see their options decreasing. The global changes sweeping of the planet, dominated by the cyber-sphere, are moving way too fast for them. They may actually believe their spin, although it makes no sense to us. They are increasingly desperate.
Ask yourself how a wild animal, cornered, is likely to respond. We are told to give wild animals, when hiking for example, a wide berth. If they feel cornered, or their escape route is blocked, they will attack. The offensive Wall Street crowd -- those whom we seek to impact -- are appalled that their right to annual bonuses are now being questioned. They had plans for that money. Military cutbacks suggesting that invading and occupying US Forces may be ruled out in future conflicts are viewed by many in big oil and the war profiteers as a direct attack on their way of life. Both Wall Street and the war profiteers feel that their way of life is under siege. They are in attack mode.
The manner of conservatives attacking President Obama, the First Lady, and progressives in general is something unseen in the US prior to the reign of Gingrich as Speaker of the House. He started it and wrote a manual about how to do it. The first response is to dismiss the opponent as unqualified and ignorant. The second response is an attempt to humiliate the opponent using insults that seem almost quaint, with accusations of socialist or communist. They shout. They interrupt. And the main focus, humiliating their opponents, continues. They also use the technique of accusing their opponents of doing what they are doing, to prove they are not doing it since they clearly object to it. That was more clever, but it has become trite. And they lie, knowing that they are making false accusations, and they don't care.
All of it can serve as bait, seeking to get a rise out of whomever they are attacking. The insults, and especially the humiliating charges, are difficult to bear. When the attacks come fast and furious, and repeatedly, the urge to strike back is strong. That urge must be resisted. It's very important to remember that using strike back language, meeting every verbal blow with your own verbal blow, will do no good. The other side is not listening. They are simply attacking and will continue the attacks. The only result, then, of striking back at the attack dogs is that audience that really matters, the American public, will see brawling opponents shouting at each other in the gutter. That does not help OWS to achieve any of its goals.
Parents are advised to ignore children throwing a tantrum. Responding to children in a tantrum tends to reward the activity with attention and may lead to more tantrums in the future. Some children need to throw an occasional tantrum and it will run its course, which is enough on the subject designed to be a parallel to what the rabid attack dogs of the one percent are doing. It's helpful to see them as having tantrums since their vitriol is all aimed outward and they are not listening for any meaningful response. They just want to get you and me, to nail us, and to show us that they are superior and in total control of everything. Such arrogant behavior borders on the psychopathological and no reasoning is possible. So what to do?
While serving at an occupy site, in an encampment or an assembly, or at any OWS function, there are likely to be attack dogs ready to hurl their humiliating charges in an attempt to drag down the movement. Those people must simply be ignored. View them as children throwing tantrums, which is not far off. Their emotions are high and no meaningful encounter will be possible.
Remember that the public is watching, members of the 99 percent of Americans whom we hope will be supporting or even joining the movement. They need to see a well organized, civil, cooperative effort being maintained by us, the OWS members. Our message is important. It must not be dragged into the gutter.
When attack dogs rise up in an attempt to inflict damage, we must resist the urge to strike back with our own verbal assault. Pretend they're not there. Resist the urge to offer them a celery stick or a daisy as it's best to maintain your physical distance from them. Our message will come through and ring true when we are able to rise above and ignore the attack dogs' attempts to corrupt it.