Just a few months ago, every news outlet in America heralded protests in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and most of the print media seemed insatiable in reporting on every scrap of information they could glean from these Middle Eastern countries as innocent civilians hit the streets to rally against oppression and the wrongs foisted on them by the powerful.
It was exciting to watch people halfway across the world exercise freedoms and force changes in countries not known for such displays and demands for democracy.
Fast forward to this weekend.
A protest involving more than 1,000 people began Saturday, forcing the closure of one of the most powerful streets in the world. People armed with no more than signs and posters espoused their anger at unfettered power and greed which have wrecked the lives of the powerless.
By mid-day, police had barricaded the street, checking ID's to ensure only residents and workers were permitted to enter the area. The protests continued on Sunday. By Monday, like actions you would expect from the most despotic regions in the world, police began making arrests in an unsuccessful effort to quell the protest and reopen the street.
Where is this historic democratic exercise taking place?
Wall Street. In New York City.
If you didn't know about it, don't be surprised. This extraordinary group of people standing up against the richest, most powerful individuals and corporations history has ever known have toiled in near obscurity for more than 72 hours.
Because the mainstream news media has refused to report on it.
Don't take my word for it. Spin through the cable news networks. Crack open a Wall Street Journal or Los Angeles Times. You won't find even a hint of this unrest, even though it is happening just a few blocks away from the very heart of America's news industry.
The only way you will find any information is if you go online and do a search. There, you'll find pages and pages of news reports on this unprecedented protest. Almost all of them will be from international news agencies, particularly those in London. The whole world knows America is having its own "Jasmine Revolution." Everyone, that is, except Americans.
You would expect a news blackout like this from communist nations or Middle Eastern dictators.
How can this happen in a nation whose first and most important founding trait is freedom of speech, and freedom of the press?
It can't be an accident; particularly not in the era of the 24-hour news cycle, where cable news outlets are ravenous in their pursuit of something to talk about every minute of every day. Conspiracy theorists might make outrageous claims about Trilateral Commissions or the New World Order silencing news organizations.
But I believe the truth is far more sinister.
It's about money.
While schoolchildren are naively taught that Washington, D.C. is the center of power in the United States, the truth is that all the real power is concentrated on Wall Street. That's because, as Gordon Gecko tried to teach us, money is power.
Wall Street is the financial center where nearly every major corporation trades, including shares of all of the news corporations. But more importantly, it's where all of their advertisers go to exchange computerized money for computerized shares.
We'll never know the exact process of how the shroud of secrecy was cast over reporting of the protests, but it's a safe bet that powerful, life-giving advertisers told the ad-sucking news agencies that the unrest on Wall Street was a non-story, and should be treated as such.
Meanwhile, in a galactically ironic twist, the biggest news stories you will find on TV and in print over the last two days is what has been painted as the U.S. president's wicked plan to tax millionaires in an attempt to reduce the deficit that millionaires have been squawking about for years. The great irony? While average citizens have taken to the streets to vocalize their rage and frustration over legitimate corporate greed and the vast and growing chasm between the wealthy and the unwashed masses, Obama is being accused of fomenting "class warfare."
The fact that the media is manipulating Americans, intentionally keeping average citizens from knowing about this protest, is terrifying. It is almost unfathomable to contemplate that people in a "free society" are being kept in the dark about other citizens speaking out against the uber-powerful. It underscores something academics and despots have known for centuries, which is that he who controls the flow of information controls the world.
But it goes even deeper than just an exercise of censorship muscles by corporations.
Police have barricaded Wall Street, only allowing entry to those with papers to prove they live or work there.
This is deeply terrifying.
"Your papers, please" has come to pass.
The government, in the form of the New York City Police Department, is doing their part to squash the freedom of speech and freedom of assembly allegedly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Moreover, they are stopping American citizens from using a public street, solely to protect the richest and most powerful of entities from enduring the "nuisance" of peaceful protesters.
When you look deeper, it's not a surprise when you consider that the mayor of New York is Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire whose Bloomberg financial news TV network is one of the news sources keeping the protest a secret.
We as Americans should be very afraid. If the richest and most powerful corporations and executives can make the voices of thousands of citizens disappear, make it as if no protest is taking place and keeping the rest of the country in the dark, what else can they do?
It turns out that singer and poet Gil Scott-Heron was prophetic when he released his 1970 song "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."
It also means that the last shreds of American democracy have been rendered impotent. It's no longer "We the people." The document should go ahead and be rewritten as "They the powerful."
Because the America taught to us in school and in song and story no longer exists.