Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lines in the Sand

There are a number of lines drawn of late in the American sand and depending on the viewer's
political philosophy, those lines represent boundaries of tolerance.

One such line is the line of race and how it has cause cleavage planes to fracture in the rock that is
supposed to represent Democracy.

Another is class, and how deepening lines have been describing ghettos and enclaves in the supposedly interwoven society.

Another line yet represents the work force and its ability to secure for its collective self the same rights and privileges other segments of society are able to negotiate.

And yet another line, or perhaps more accurately now, wall: Immigration.

Thus four societal struggles for survival and recognition, all of them subjected to cynical and sophisticated attack.

If we were to draw yet another line, an historical line, beginning with the death and apotheosis of one Ronald Wilson Reagan, we would have for examination the political equivalent of what archaeologists and geologists and soil biologists call a core sampling.

RWR began his political career on another line still, the picket line. Although difficult to imagine at this stage of his apotheosis, he was on the workers' side of the picket line when the CSU, Conference of Studio Unions, struck for enhanced work security and pay against the studio management. His political views and energies shifted as his range of power increased, causing The Great Communicator to envision Welfare Mothers flagrantly abusing the Welfare System, waxing cynical about a so-called Visiting Workers' Program (in which workers visiting from other countries could pay taxes here but not receive benefits), and seizing upon the so-called Southern Strategy of his political party in a blatant attempt to exploit by direct implication racial and labor-related antagonisms dating back to the Reconstruction Era.

I must drawn in yoga-like infusions of breath to keep my focus from shunting forth into a polemic against a man whose first act as President of the United States was to fatally betray the very labor union that had supported him in his candidacy, reminding some of us of that famed FUBAR of logic from Viet Nam, We had to destroy the village i order to save it.

The picket line. Workers demonstrating for recognition as thriving contributors to society, willing to serve as a part of a team that envisioned, produced, sold, and serviced tangible products. Me and women willing to take risk in service of a principal. The working class, flexing its muscle.

I am from a background where a picket line--any picket line--is to be respected, which is to say not crossed until the pickets themselves have signed off the strike and agreed to negotiated terms.

I have been a member of WGAw, Writers' Guild of America, west, thanks to a wobbly, precarious series of ventures in television which spoke more to my own wobbly state of writerly ability than of any deficiency in the medium, itself. However easy it is to make fun of television, it was easier yet to make fun of my attempts. That is another story. The story is that once again writers are thought to be a luxurious nuisance, or perhaps merely a nuisance. I recall my pal Digby, being hauled before the NBC Mafia and literally being told not to be political on his invention, Laugh-In. Be funny some other way, he was told. Don't make waves.

Ah, the delicious irony. When Digby asked how it was possible to be funny without being political, he was told, You're the writer.

Sometimes the picket line gives the workers the chance to make their grievances heard.

Sometimes the enormously expensive fence between Mexico and the United States gives those who wish to work here a chance to be heard; sometimes it gives those who wish not to listen the opportunity to not do so.

What some of those who live along the California/Arizona/Texas border with Mexico do not take into account is the barricade of yet another sort drawn between the US and Canada; it is the barricade of good sense which the Canadians apply in their judgment of their neighbors to the south.

As all workers on strike need to be heeded and negotiated with, writers on strike need to be listened to.