Transcript: Thom Hartmann: OWS - The Whole World was Literally Watching. 21 November '11
We once again learned why peaceful resistance is so powerful.
When brave, committed, and disciplined young people sat peacefully occupying the University of California, Davis last Friday - they became the latest iconic image to come out of this 99% movement.
As a rogue police officer clad in riot gear methodically paced back and forth in front of them - dousing their faces with pepper spray - these patriots did not fight back - they didn't even run away - they just sat there - they took it.
They resisted the urge to defend themselves.
They fought back that all-too-human impulse to respond to violence with more violence - that impulse that Martin Luther King warned against when he said, "returning violence for violence multiplies violence".
What could have been a brutal confrontation with police if just one of those young people had responded to the pepper spray by lashing out - instead turned into an iconic image of peaceful resistance that showed the fundamental evil of power being abused - one that is sure to endure long after this movement is finished.
Just as the image of young people in the streets of Oakland - who sacrificed their own safety to run to the aid of wounded Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen - rather than fight back against the police who were violently launching tear gas cannisters into the crowd.
That image too will last.
As will the image of another Iraq War veteran, Kayvan Sabeghi - who peacefully stood in front of a battalion of riot police - and peacefully resisted as one of those cops drew his nightstick and beat him - rupturing his spleen.
As will the image of young women being corralled and pepper sprayed when the 99% movement first kicked off - they didn't fight back, either - they bravely took it.
And so too will all the videos and photos of the 4,000-plus patriots who've just sat there - sat there in peaceful resistance - while nightsticks were shoved into their guts - or while they were dragged down the street by their hair - or run over by a police motorcycle - all of these are the iconic - and enduring images which frankly are essential to a movement being successful.
During the Civil Rights movement - there were similar iconic images.
The most iconic perhaps was what happened on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the March of 1965 - what would later be known as Bloody Sunday.
Civil Rights demonstrators marched from Selma to Montgomery - and when they began to cross that bridge - they were confronted by a barricade of riot police with nightsticks and tear gas masks.
The demonstrators stopped - and just stood there - waiting.
Sure enough the police moved in - violently trampled the peaceful demonstrators - and dispersed the crowd with tear gas.
And the whole world was literally watching - and for the first time - people like me saw on their televisions at home the consequences of institutional racism - and the power - the incredible power - of non-violent resistance against it.
It became an iconic image.
The Edmund Pettus Bridge became a symbol - that carried the Civil Rights movement forward.
So too were the images of non-violent demonstrators being attacked by skin-tearing water hoses in Birmingham in 1963.
Iconic images of non-violence are essential to a successful movement - and the 99% movement is collecting more and more of these images by the day.
From Selma - to Tahrir Square - to UC Davis - peaceful resistance in the face of violence always wins the day.
So we need to thank those brave patriots who are risking their own safety to help rescue this nation from the predations of unregulated corporate power and bought-off politicians.
One day our children will look back on the footage of these days and say, as we say today when watching the old newsreels of Selma and Birmingham and the Edmund Pettus Bridge - "What the hell were those police thinking?"
And, "How much longer can this society continue in such a badly broken fashion before things change?".
Things WILL change.
And you can thank those young people willing to put their bodies in the line of institutional violence for that change, when it finally happens.
That's The Big Picture.