Eric Blanc at Jacobin writes—The Oklahoma Strike Is At a Crossroads:

For most participants, this was their first mass protest of any sort. As such, a quiet cautiousness marked the day. Many teachers expressed their hope that Monday’s big rally, combined with earnestly lobbying the legislators, would be sufficient to convince recalcitrant Republicans to meet their appeals to fully fund education.When I asked strikers about the action’s mellow mood, the response I received was invariably, “Well, you need to understand that Oklahomans are used to being polite.”

This politeness didn’t last long. As Oklahoma City activist Mark Faulk put it the next day, “Today, teachers brought their outside voices into the state capitol.” Over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday, the crowds turned feisty. Protesters for the first time began chanting in the capitol rotunda; at one point, hundreds even organized an unruly sit-in.

The politics of the rank and file also sharpened quickly. Whereas protest signs on Monday focused on general calls to fund education, by Wednesday demands to tax the oil and gas corporations — and to fund schools instead of prisons — were particularly prevalent. As has so often been the case in these teachers’ revolts, the ranks surged past the labor officials. Whereas Oklahoma’s union leaders remain frustratingly wary of forceful calls to make the rich pay for the crisis, Southmoore High School student Ravi Patel displayed no such hesitations at Wednesday morning’s large student rally:

Don’t let them tell you that funds don’t exist. They’re sitting right on them. Those sitting on Capitol Hill shouldn’t be building themselves a hill of capital. We need to stop putting profits above pupils. . . . From this day onwards, legislators will fear us hashtag-wielding teenagers more than they fear the oil and gas companies.

Republican arrogance has been an important spur for this radicalization. On Monday, state senator Rob Standridge announced that “funding isn’t the problem. Teacher attitude and dialogue is the problem.” Senator Marty Quinn similarly explained that teachers should find another job if they were unhappy with their pay — when student Ariel Grimes challenged him on this, Quinn responded by telling her that she was “too young to fully understand what was going on.” And most infamously, Governor Fallin said that teachers are like “a teenage kid that wants a better car.” Particularly in the wake of these insults, the strike has evolved into something deeper than just a fight for better pay and more funding. Like most mass strikes, it’s become a struggle for dignity and respect.

After April 2, the movement grew both louder and larger. Given Oklahoma’s weak trade unions and labor traditions, many of us had privately worried on Monday that turnout in the coming days might decline. Amazingly, the opposite dynamic took place. Both Tuesday and Wednesday were bigger than the day before. And Monday, April 9, was the largest action yet, with an estimated fifty thousand at the capitol. Across the state, at least half a million students, over 70 percent of the state total, were out of school. […]

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QUOTATION

“Cowards make the best torturers. Cowards understand fear and they can use it.” 
~Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns: The Broken Empire (2012)

TWEET OF THE DAY

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Is anyone else having trouble concentrating? I keep waiting for another shoe to drop. How am I supposed to work like this?So many shoes. They’re all gonna drop eventually.

— Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) April 11, 2018

BLAST FROM THE PAST

On this date at Daily Kos in 2010—A Fatal Mischance:

Yesterday, hope for a miracle deep beneath the mountains of West Virginia was extinguished as the bodies of the last four miners were found. The cause of the explosion that took the lives of 29 men has not yet been determined, but from the nature and strength of the explosion, it seems likely that it involved both a build up of methane and an accumulation of coal dust—both of which should have been prevented by adequate supervision and implementation of safety regulations.

The CEO of Massey Energy, Don Blankenship, is even more wealthy than [Coal Company magnate Bob] Murray. He donates huge amounts to conservative causes, has funded a good chunk of the Tea Party movement in West Virginia, famously spent over $3 million to get a friendly judge elected to the state Supreme Court, and  donated another $3 million in an attempt to fund a Republican takeover of the state legislature. Blankenship regularly engages in calling Democratic leaders “the crazies” and has said that any move to regulate pollution is the first step toward communism. Grist named Blankenship the “scariest polluter” in the country.

Now that Blankenship’s disregard for safety has cost the lives of 29 men, what should we expect?

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Not much new. Just some rage tweets threatening war, word that Ryan’s bailing, and Trump mulling firing Mueller. Greg Dworkin and Joan McCarter round things up, and Mark Hogue tests to see if we’re authoritarians. P.S., Boehner’s on Teh Weed (board).

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