Once the Arab Spring broke loose, people began asking me why this country was still so quiet. I would always point out that no one ever expects or predicts such events. Nothing like this, I would say, happens until it happens, and only then do you try to make sense of it retrospectively.
Sounds smart enough, but here’s the truth of it: whatever I said, I wasn’t expecting you. After this endless grim decade of war and debacle in America, I had no idea you were coming, not even after Madison.
You took me by surprise. For all I know, you took yourself by surprise, the first of you who arrived at Zuccotti Park and, inspired by a bunch of Egyptian students, didn’t go home again. And when the news of you penetrated my world, I didn’t pay much attention. So I wasn’t among the best and brightest when it came to you. But one thing’s for sure: you’ve had my attention these last weeks. I already feel years younger thanks to you (even if my legs don’t).
Decades ago in the Neolithic age we now call “the Sixties,” I was, like you: outraged. I was out in the streets (and in the library). I was part of the anti-Vietnam War movement. I turned in my draft card, joined a group called the Resistance, took part in the radical politics of the moment, researched the war, became a draft counselor, helped organize an anti-war Asian scholars group — I was at the time preparing to be a China scholar, before being swept away — began writing about (and against) the war, worked as an “underground” printer (there was nothing underground about us, but it sounded wonderful), and finally became an editor and journalist at an antiwar news service in San Francisco. (Full Story)