The Occupy movement has developed the mic check as a way of communicating democratically when no other sound is allowed (as in Zuccotti Park). Mic check also announces its presence critically to pompous capitalists and government officials. One is mistaken not to see the inspiration of this movement – and of Mohamed Bouazizi and Arab spring – in the far reaches of protest, of asserting decency. For instance, Wednesday in Durban, South Africa, Abigail Borah, a Middlebury College student, emulated Asmaa Mahfouz of Egypt in February. See here and here. Mahfouz spoke eloquently of the need to protest the police beating and murder of a teenager on Facebook. Borah stood up to challenge the Obama administrator’s liar and staller of any reasonable agreement at the global climate change conference in Durban. Her words were met with "wide applause." When she was led out by the authorities, so was the truth.
The poor official, with no sense of his own humiliation and discrediting, let it all happen, self-concerned, let Borah be escorted out. He could easily have stopped it.
He had the same relationship to the truth as Democratic Governors and Mayors like Jean Kwan and Michael Hancock and John Hickenlooper or University administrators like Linda Katehi of the University of California at Davis, letting the police spray nonviolent protestors with toxins. Borah stood up, a lone woman, her presence terrifying to him and to the gendarmes of the 1%. "Make her go away," he thought. But she had already spoken. Her ideas named what everyone thought. They occupied the conference...
In liberated South Africa, the police are not, despite the best efforts of American companies chasing cash, heavily militarized. And the conference was also no setting – against a lone women speaking to great applause – for police violence.
“Seen and not heard,” he might have thought. No, Abigail Borah’s words electrified the conference, and moved out, despite the curtain of silence in the commercial media – I refer especially to the decadence of the New York Times - to the planet. Was there bigger news Thursday than this?
In addition, women are often path-breaking leaders – consider Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Yet it is unusual for a young woman, still in college, to rise up and tell the truth about the dangers posed to the planet by the 1%, the deadlocked American Congress (deadlocked through oil money, the sociopath Karl Rove snickering while the world roasts…)* Obama knows the truth but is unwilling to go down, politically, in flames (leaving the world to flame…). Keep our hope alive, she says, capturing the turn of phrase of Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama…
Here are her words:
It is unusual, of course, for a young man (or any man) to display this kind of courage and integrity. The ripples of Mohamed Bouazizi flow outward in continuously amazing and innovative ways.