When I was little I got a kick out flipping through the “Where’s Waldo” books. The intellectual stimulation I received from tirelessly searching for the bookish looking White guy in the not-so conspicuous red –striped shirt kept me engaged for hours on end. Yesterday, it seemed as if 18 years later I was forced to play one of my favorite childhood games again. Yesterday, I wasn’t asking “Where’s Waldo?”, I was asking, “Where’s Condi?”
The University of Chicago announced Monday that an appearance by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. originally planned to take place later that same day will be postponed.The university released a statement early Monday stating the event, scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. at the university’s International House, had been postponed “due to an unforeseen scheduling conflict.” The university plans to reschedule the event for a later, yet-to-be-determined date.
Why did Secretaries Rice and Paulson decide to not come? Were they afraid to field hard questions from a group of organized, yet disgruntled citizens? Is the University of Chicago in cahoots with the former Bush appointees? I know the answers to these questions just about as much as I know where Waldo is. Nevertheless, if the postponement had anything do with them running away from healthy political discourse than I weep for this country.
No matter what side of the political aisle you are on, there is something that can be said about the strength of organizing. The Occupy Chicago organizers, who had been planning to “un-welcome” Rice and Paulson saw the move as indicative that their campaign had been successful. They are now planning to hold their Monday general assembly as “a celebration of the power of community action” at 1414 E. 59th St., across the street from the venue where the event was to take place.
The Occupy movement is an international protest movement which is primarily directed against social and economic inequality. The movement started in Kuala Lumpur on July 30, 2011, with Occupy Dataran followed by New York City and San Francisco on September 17, 2011, with Occupy Wall Street and Occupy San Francisco. By October 9 Occupy protests had taken place or were ongoing in over 95 cities across 82 countries and over 600 communities in the United States. As of November 4 the Meetup page “Occupy Together” listed “Occupy” communities in 2,464 towns and cities worldwide. Much of the movement’s work is performed by “working groups,” composed of volunteers, with important decisions being taken at “General assemblies.” General assemblies take place at most Occupy sites every evening at 7PM. All decisions are made using the consensus model of direct democracy, waving hands in various simple signals and operating with discussion facilitators rather than leaders
Although neither Secretaries Rice nor Paulson spoke yesterday, they got a chance to really see what Democracy looks like. Hopefully, they won’t run away next time they see it.