Gals like me use this holiday to reflect on our nation’s history and, for one day out of the year, acknowledge the shit that makes us proud to be American. Normally, I am waist deep in criticisms, critiques, and commentary about what we are doing wrong & what we have done wrong in the past. That’s my shtick. It’s also my constitutionally guaranteed right, I might add. But, in commemoration of the Bitch Slap Heard ‘Round the World (you might call it the Declaration of Independence), here’s my
LIST OF AMERICAN ICONS & EVENTS THAT MAKE MY CYNICAL ASS FEEL PATRIOTIC!!
(Against my best judgment)
1. Mother Jones (8/1/1837 – 11/30/1930): She was born Irish, but did wonders for America’s labor movement & was an all-around take-no-shit community organizer in the States, so I claim her as our own. The Senate denounced her as the grandmother of all agitators, to which Jones responded that she wished to live long enough to be the great-grandmother of all agitators! Mother Jones was known as the ‘Miners Angel’ for her steadfast support of labor & union rights, even when her position wasn’t in step with union leaders. If there were a strike, she’d be there to help organize, to motivate, or to rabble-rouse as she saw fit. Railway workers, coal miners, textile mill workers, streetcar workers, immigrant workers, child laborers; wherever there were workers being exploited by their employers, Mother Jones made it a point to show up & start some shit. This sweet, harmless looking, elderly lady could garner a whole lot of publicity for strikes and union struggles that would otherwise be ignored by the media & the public at large. Jones used this to push labor issues on to the forefront of political discussion and force politicians to address the concerns of America’s workers. That is my kind of American woman, folks.
2. WTO Protests in Seattle, Washington in November, 1999: I was in the Emerald City nearly a year after the chaos of those protests for a marijuana legalization rally and the cops still weren’t fucking with people, in fear of a reprise! The massive outburst of public aggression, referred to as The Battle of Seattle, was a response to the World Trade Organization’s Ministerial Conference of 1999. Basically, the WTO is an international club for multinational corporations that supervises world trade, essentially making wealthy nations stay that way and keeping poorer countries in terminal poverty. A crowd of more than 40,000 people convened in downtown Seattle to protest the conference. Participants included labor unions, student activists, religious organizations, anarchists, feminists, environmentalists, human rights activists, farmers, miners, fishermen, and folks from slews of other occupations and ideological backgrounds. They raged for five days, facing the brute force of the National Guard, and managed to shut down the opening ceremonies, canceled the closing ceremonies, prevented President Bill Clinton from addressing the conference, and focused the American media on police brutality and corporate domination (subjects often glossed over or labeled “fringe”). That’s how you do dissent, people!
3. Elizabeth Caty Stanton (11/12/1815 – 10/26/1902) and her Declaration of Sentiments: Stanton was an abolitionist, an activist, a suffragette, and a bad ass in an era when those labels were anything but cool. Her Sentiments were ratified by the first women’s rights conference in Seneca Falls, NY in 1848, thus kicking off the first organized women’s rights movement in the United States. She was so ahead of her time (and apparently, ahead of our time too) because she advocated for not only suffrage, but equality in divorce law, parental and custody rights, property rights, income and employment rights, birth control, and the overall economic health of the family unit. All with seven children and a husband on her plate! At her wedding, the story goes, Elizabeth Cady refused to promise to "obey" her husband in the vows, later writing "I obstinately refused to obey one with whom I supposed I was entering into an equal relation”. Get it, Girl! And Thanks.
4. Russell Long: It’s his birthday today & I miss that drunk S.O.B. My life is lonelier without his daily phone calls, however perv-y the conversation or unintelligible the message may have been.