In Wisconsin, where workers’ rights are under attack and demonstrations against Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union bill are now in their third week, “the energy of Egypt” is in the air, says civil rights leader Jesse Jackson. Back from his trip to Madison, Jackson joined The Nation to share his thoughts on how the protests in Cairo and Madison have broken our “cynical disbelief” and revealed that people have the power to change their situations.
With massive non-cooperation, Jackson says, we can take down “systems that thrive off exploitation, fear, intimidation and corruption.” Recalling his experience in the civil rights movement, he says, “We in the South in a sense disarmed the armies” with a “massive show of resistance with a moral case” that was “punctuated by action.” In Wisconsin and Egypt, the people are not resisting racism, colonialism, an invasion or occupation, Jackson says. They are simply demanding basic economic justice.
As Egypt’s protesters refused to back down, Jackson explains, they realized their power: “Jail cells could not contain them, money could not purchase them and death did not frighten them.” This example of unswerving commitment should embolden Madison’s demonstrators as the fight in Wisconsin continues.
To listen to Jackson explain the stakes of the protests in Wisconsin, go here.