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Singing to Congress

[Question for Paul Krugman: Does he support all 198 forms of non-violent protest and persuasion? In other words, are they "civil"? --lambert]

Several attendees at a youth climate conference in DC got themselves arrested for single in the Congressional gallery. Here's one of them: "I will be silent no more forever":

This Friday, April 15, I went to Congress to be heard. I went to Congress to sing. I went to Congress to speak truth to power. I entered the visitor’s gallery of the House of Representatives with eight others, and one after another. ...

For the entire half hour it took us to file into the gallery and the five long minutes that I waited in my seat, my stomach was hollow and I was more nervous than I had ever been. But once we were all in the gallery, I did rise and sing [#37; #173]. I was arrested by the capital police, and along with the others, was changed with Unlawful Conduct: Disrupting Congress. I have a court date on May 5. ....

In many ways, my political awakening came with the election of Barack Obama in 2008. In Obama I did see a hope for the future. I saw the possibility that, with him, we could change the way that our government worked. We could start to change the ways of corporate influence over our democracy and, in that, begin to address climate change. This was, needless to say, a faith that was highly misplaced. [This is a youth conference, remember] ....

When I decided to organize this action, three weeks ago today, I had no idea what was going to happen. There were so many moments, especially right before we pulled it off, that it seemed that everything would fall apart, and that nothing would happen. There were a lot of points where I was about to fall apart, and during one of them, I realized that I have nothing left to lose. The things in my life that make me happy, my friends, my connections to other humans and the earth, are not things that can be given to me, they are things that I must make myself. And once I realized that — that I only have my own integrity and respect to gain, and nothing that I value to lose — I was able to do this. Perhaps the most inspiring thing that drove me to this action was a question that my friend asked me. She said, “If not now, when?” And that truly is something that I had no answer for, when? Now is the only answer I could formulate.

And right now I am not free. I stood up in Congress because that is where I have been told, over and over again, that I have no voice. That I have no voice in my future. My future, which if I remain on the sidelines, will not exist. I stood up to sing because I will be silent no more forever.

Interestingly, we now have three examples of musical NV involving the occupation of public space to make music: Philly, SF BoA, and now this. But Sharp has no classification for that. I'm wondering, then, if this is a new thing on the face of the earth? A distinctively American contribution? America is, after all, the home of the blues, country, folk, and rock and roll ....

UPDATE Izvestia sniffs that the singers added a "chaotic dimension" to the day in Congress. Read the posts here, and you'll see how thoughtful and organized and courageous the protesters were. It's the critters rooting and snorting in the mud of the Congressional floor who are producing the chaos.

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