The Yellow Vest protests in France and spreading to other parts of Europe have garnered very little attention in US corporate media. The only mention I have seen of them has been to make it seem as though the protesters are hooligans bent on destruction. Or trying to blame Russia for civil unrest. Never examining what the protests are about or who is involved. Not daring to mention that 70% of French citizens support the movement, including many police.
There is also the narrative that Socialists want “free stuff”, not mentioning the high taxes French citizens pay to support their social system. Not mentioning that taxes have been lowered for the rich, while attempts to increase fuel taxes on the poor were attempted.
Yes, the protests began as a protest against an additional fuel tax. However, it grew from there to include many other issues.
At this point, our media is attempting to make it seem like 70% of France are just unruly thugs wanting to remove the neoliberal Macron from office, while he is the “good guy”, defending himself. By having police fire tear gas at French citizens.
Of course, this must be Russia behind all of this. France has never had a popular uprising where they overthrew an overbearing power structure. Right?!
Many people in America are suggesting that we need just such an uprising in this country, with many of the same demands. Problem is, such an uprising is not going to happen here in the near future. It may happen but not yet.
For one thing, Americans are still sold on the idea that we are “free”. That any problems we have are the result of being victims of outside forces.
BLM was not a real movement, it was Russian propaganda. That’s why they were banned from Hillary’s rallies. Black men are not shot down in the streets or even their own back yards. In France, if one person is shot down or beaten, they face mass protests. Color doesn’t matter. Wonder what will happen with hundreds arrested and thousands tear gassed? Here, we just pass it off as “the price of freedumb”. The police were threatened. That wallet looked like a gun. That 6 year old was a threat to be dealt with by lethal force.
We are so “free” that we can sacrifice some of our freedom. We can censor our media, silence voices. It’s not the government doing it, it’s just the corporations that own the government doing it. That makes it all okay. If you do not agree with a particular voice, don’t turn the channel. Petition to have that voice removed entirely. Other voices that you have never heard of? Just trust the corporations to pass judgment and you’ll go along with it.
Americans listen to corporate media, neoliberals and right wing voices (same thing, really) telling us how great the economy is doing. That any suffering or lack is all because of Russian trolls, Chinese trade practices or immigrants. The numbers and evidence don’t add up.
We hear all the time that the US is the richest country on earth. Does it feel like that to you? Does it look like it when you hear of people dying because they cannot afford diabetes or heart medications? For proof, the media offers the stock market. Problem is, only a fraction of Americans actually have money in the stock market. Or a savings account. It’s hard to invest when you can barely pay rent and feed your family.
As a nurse, I have personally seen people die from dental infections. They could not afford a dentist. Most Americans have no clue of the relationship between dental disease and heart disease. I’ve witnessed people beg doctors for the least expensive medication because they could not afford the most effective medication for their condition. I have tried to comfort patients who would not be able to afford their medications after they were discharged from the hospital I worked in. All I could do was refer to the social worker, cross my fingers and offer what I knew were likely empty platitudes.
We are so wealthy that millions of Americans go bankrupt every year due to medical bills. That causes businesses to lose money and prices to rise. It causes people to lose homes and vehicles. Aside from the stress, health issues and shame which goes with it, as though it was a failing on their part.
I’ve written before that illegal immigrants account for only 0.25% of your entire income, at most. That’s a generous number. Of course, that number does not include the much higher expense of tracking them down, rounding them up, incarcerating them, feeding them, paying ever-increasing numbers of border patrol agents, more militarization of the border, building a wall which will be tunneled under, lawyers, legal challenges and lost labor or failed crops. Those numbers completely dwarf any social support they may have received at any point.
We are so wealthy that we go further in debt daily paying student loans, while French citizens can attend university without additional cost.
We are so wealthy that the majority of divorces in this country are due to financial issues.
We are so wealthy that many roads and bridges in this countries are tragedies in waiting.
We are so wealthy we cannot afford to fight forest fires which destroy hundreds of homes and tens of thousands of acres of forest every single year.
We are so wealthy our teachers must work multiple jobs to pay their own bills while parents must provide school supplies on top of paying property taxes, sales tax and income tax. It is the ultimate insult to pay sales tax on school supplies after paying all the other taxes that are supposed to provide our children with an education. Then stand by and watch as schools beg for donations of computer equipment from corporations who get tax breaks for sending jobs to other countries.
We are so wealthy that our government conducts trade at the end of a missile. We can afford to bomb countries that are no threat to us but cannot provide shelter to millions of our own people.
But you should be scared to death because maybe some Russian troll posted memes. Or because China may sell something at Dollar Tree you want to buy. Because those are our biggest problems.
No, protests on the scale of the Yellow Vest protests will not happen here yet. Eventually they will. When the oligarchy has sucked the last penny dry. When the dollar collapses to negative worth. When you can no longer afford to even watch network propaganda. When gun nuts are faced with the choice of using their guns to rob people or sell their guns to eat.
Because we value our “freedoms” so much, our country has chosen collapse over calling the rich and powerful to account.
Just don’t protest. Because that’s unAmerican.