A Critical Response To “We Are All Scott Olsen”
On Tuesday night in Oakland, in the midst of the shameful actions of the police force against peaceful protesters, a veteran by the name of Scott Olsen was critically injured. I am not writing to describe the event; it’s all over the news, and it’s awful. I’m writing because of the new solidarity battlecry: “We Are All Scott Olsen.”
I’m writing because I have got to call bullshit.
Because, NO. We are not all Scott Olsen. We are not all war veterans. We have not all put our lives on the line multiple times and fought for our country. We are not all in an induced coma, potentially about to make the ultimate sacrifice in patriotic love for our country. What we all are (and all ought to be) is proud of Scott Olsen. We are all proud to have stood with Scott Olsen, no matter what city we may have been occupying—I was fortunate enough to be in Oakland with him, and may even have stood beside him at some point that evening before things really went to hell.
And we must all pray for Scott Olsen, in any way your religion or lack thereof will allow.
But to create propaganda like this is lazy at best. It’s reminiscent of the mindless, meaningless Fight Club chant, “His name is Robert Paulson,” honoring a man without honoring him, recognizing that there was some kind of loss, some kind of meaning, but not fully understanding what that meaning is.
Occupiers, you don’t honor Scott Olsen when you say this. This isn’t solidarity, it’s convenience and it’s hubris.
Yes, we are all fighting the good fight together. Yes, we can all be potentially injured or killed if the authorities once again abuse their power. We are all in this, together. But we are not all Scott Olsen.
EDIT: The good news is, Scott Olsen is now awake and improving.