Taking the High Road

By Bonnie Weinstein

Working people are not only battling an economic war—one which has condemned us and our children to a second-tier life—but we are also under constant assault as human beings. On the one hand, capitalism judges people by how much wealth they own, relegating the poor to worthlessness; and on the other hand, blames the individual—their character and personality—for the poverty and hardship they find themselves in.

It’s our own fault say the capitalist mass media—the TV and radio shows; the magazines and newspapers. You have failed because: “You didn’t make the right choices;” “You got pregnant too young;” “You didn’t work hard enough in school or on the job;” “You’re too fat; or too Black;” “You don’t ‘dress for success;’” “You are stupid and ignorant;” therefore not entitled to a good-paying job and a decent life. You simply are not worthy!

Poor women are stereotyped as sexually loose and poor men as deadbeat dads, lazy, drug dealers and/or pimps, and on and on. It permeates our culture and warps our own vision of ourselves. And it comes down hardest on the poor and the young.

‘Do you want to be a millionaire?’

Meanwhile, superficial symbols of wealth are advertised as the things we “must” buy, use and own in order to succeed. The message: we must look like we’re successful if we want to succeed. Little toddlers are dressed up like Vegas call girls, with fake breasts, butts, wigs and tons of makeup and are taught to parade around a stage to compete in a reality TV show called “Toddlers and Tiaras.” How perverse is it to cover up the most beautiful thing in the world, youth, with artificial accoutrements designed to hide the distinguishing features of the individual child?

Our teenagers are supposed to be vying to be “The Next Top Model” or the next “American Idol.” The underlying message is that you, too, can become the next millionaire if you only make the right choices and work hard enough for it. The other side of that coin, of course, is if you don’t achieve these things, there’s something wrong with YOU.

At the very same time, the battle of day-to-day life—its injustices, perils and hardships—are to be thought of as inevitable and, most of all, beyond our control. And that fighting for justice will only make your life more difficult!

It is a huge contradiction designed to blur the real truth. Working people have the right to all the good this Earth can offer and, we have the power to have it, too.

Criminalizing even the youngest children

Just this past January, in yet another example of the criminalization of the normal activity of young children, a six-year-old boy was suspended from school because, according to the school principal, the boy “committed or attempted to commit a sexual assault or sexual battery.” What did the little boy do? He was playing tag during recess in the school playground and allegedly tagged the upper thigh, or perhaps the groin, of another child.11

The police occupation of the schools

In a TV news story that first aired on RTAmerica (RussianTelevision America) and is now available on YouTube, titled “School police increasingly arresting American students?”22 “A new study shows that by age 23, 41 percent of young Americans were arrested from the years 1997-2008.” And on Brasscheck TV also linked to the same video is an article about reports on Texas’ “school-to-prison pipeline” released by the public interest law center, Texas Appleseed. In the article, “Criminalizing Youthful Behavior” by Texas Appleseed,33 the report points to the growing police presence in Texas public education “coinciding with increased Class C misdemeanor ticketing and arrest of students for low-level, non-violent behavior that historically has been handled at the school level—sending more youth to court and increasing their chances of academic failure and future justice system involvement…”

The report found:

• “Most Class C misdemeanor tickets written by school police officers are for low-level, non-violent misbehavior that do not involve weapons, yet ticketing can have far-reaching financial and legal impacts. Fines and costs associated with Class C tickets…range from less than $60 to more than $500 per ticket. Failure to pay the fine, complete court-ordered community service or comply with a notice to appear in court can result in the youth’s arrest at age 17. African American and Hispanic youth are disproportionately affected by this practice…

• “Ticketing has increased substantially over a two- to five-year period; and where the child attends school—and not the nature of the offense—is the greater predictor of whether a child will be ticketed at school.

• “African American and (to a lesser extent) Hispanic students are disproportionately represented in Class C misdemeanor ticketing…

• “It is not unusual for elementary school-age children, including students ten years old and younger, to receive Class C tickets at school…”

What does a child begin to think about him or her self when from the time they enter kindergarten till they graduate from college their experience is that they must endure police occupation and the harassment that goes along with it! In their schools; in their neighborhoods; the armed police are everywhere in order to “preserve order” and punish “criminals” of any age.

Obama: top police chief of the world—judge, jury and executioner

What working people are experiencing here—the police occupations and the giant prison industrial complex that accommodates it and imprisons more than all other countries put together—has an analogy to what working people the world over are experiencing at the hands of the U.S. military and it’s imperialist allies, its partners in crime.

While workers here have not yet felt the depth of devastation and bloodshed the U.S. war machine is capable of—that has brutally killed millions of people in Iraq, Afghanistan and everywhere it targets its “War on Terror”—these actions stand as a constant reminder of the lengths to which this bi-partisan government will go to preserve the wealth, property and privilege of the one percent.

The U.S. commanders of capital have bestowed upon themselves the right to kill or indefinitely imprison anyone without due process or habeas corpus. And this is certainly not a “theoretical” situation but one that is being acted out by their bipartisan government day in and day out.

It has gone way beyond the prescience of George Orwell’s 1984.

With their drones, bombs, target killings by secret forces such as the “Navy Seals,” etc., they don’t even have to get their hands dirty. Resorting to war, murder and assassination to preserve the wealth of the commanders of capital—the one percent—is about as low as a human being can get. No other species on the planet is as tyrannical as these vicious hoarders of wealth. It is a spit in the face of humanity and human civilization. It is the corruptor of conscience, kindness and community.

Taking the high road

The world socialist revolution, by uniting the masses of working people—the 99 percent—in defense of our basic human right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is the high road. It is the road of the future—the only road that will enable us to have a future.

It is a road of cooperation, not competition; of production for need and want, not for profit; of peaceful solutions to problems and conflicts that benefit everyone. It is the end of war and tyranny. It is the beginning of endless possibilities for good and the betterment of all. This is the side the working class and our allies stand upon. It is humanity’s highest road to freedom.

1 1“A Touch During Recess, and Reaction Is Swift,” By SCOTT JAMES, January 16 2012

2 2”School police increasingly arresting American students?”

3 3”Criminalizing Youthful Behavior,” by Texas Appleseed