Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why fear the power of art?

Fear of art stalks the muddy land. As if piles of snow in April weren't bad enough, we Mainers, like masses of other people in the world, are besieged by the Forces of Greed (F.o.G.) hacking and slashing their way through the structures of civil society. 

That fearful art, Judy Taylor's now-famous mural depicting Maine labor history, will have a day in court next week. On Tuesday, April 19 there'll be a hearing at 10:00am in the Federal Courthouse in Bangor on a suit charging that Governor LePage violated citizens' First Amendment right of access to the mural by removing it. 

From the press release:
The court proceedings are open to the public. Those who attend the hearing will march at its conclusion in a parade from the courthouse to the rally about 11:30 at Pierce Park,  next to the Bangor Public Library. Everyone who supports the First Amendment, labor rights, and ethical governance is invited to join in. Bring signs and musical instruments if you can.
Why fear the power of art? I'll let these images from the most recent Draw-in at the State House in Augusta April 4 speak for themselves.

"Babe in Arms" by Nora Tryon. Additional powerful images here.
 “Whatever happens at the hearing,” notes artist Joan Braun, one of the plaintiffs in the suit against the governor, “we know that we will ultimately prevail. The will of the people of Maine cannot be disregarded without serious consequences..."
These attacks on working people globally are all of a piece.

Chris Hedges laid out cause for serious consequences in his discussion of the wholesale destruction of public education. He was talking about  the U.S.A. but he could just as well have said in the Americas considering what's going on in Honduras and Oxaca, Mexico.

Since the '09 coup in Honduras that Obama and the F.o.G. supported, the privatization of public education -- and the destruction of the powerful associations of public school teachers -- is on. "Rob the teachers' pension fund; buy tear gas and ammunition" a familiar F.o.G. strategy world-wide is reported here by Karen Spring & Annie Bird of Honduras Regime Impunity Watch.  The 3.2 million members of my union, the National Education Association, have yet to rise -- but they did send a letter. So can you.

Attacks are a lot more violent in other places where the struggle is more advanced. Instead of hiding a mural, F.o.G. violently attacks community radio stations and broadcasters in Honduras. Or, if the stakes are very high, people simply disappear.

In Bahrain, disappearances and torture are increasingly being brought against nonviolent pro-democracy activists, with the help and collusion of our mutual good friend Saudi Arabia. How hard will the Forces of Greed fight to keep Bahrain functioning as host to an enormous U.S. navy base? Pretty damn hard.

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