While sitting in the Nashville International Airport reading the newspaper recently, a mustachioed Frenchman sitting next to me started up a conversation. In the interest of space and clarity, I'm skipping my part of the conversation:
"If you want to change the system under which you Americans suffer, you must stop collaborating with it," the foreign visitor told Shapiro as they waited in the airport. (Photo: Brian Sims)
"Occupy Wall Street is a paper tiger. All drums and no message. If you want to change the system under which you Americans suffer you must stop collaborating with it.
"First, the 99 percent should go on strike. Do it the day after your Thanksgiving. No one of the 99 percent goes to work. Do you think the fat cats on Wall Street can survive even a day without the 99 percent? Can they brew their own lattes? They will be defeated in moments.
"Second, the 99 percent should boycott all elections except, maybe, the most local. It doesn't matter which party wins in your system. The only difference between them is which corporations get to feed off the people.
"Don't vote. Let the 1 percent elect their man, they do so anyway. Boycotting the elections says you know the system is stacked against you.
"Third, the 99 percent should refuse to file tax returns. Instead everyone should file for an extension and mail it in on April 15 when your taxes are due.
"You are not refusing to pay, only filing for a legal extension. And keep filing for extensions until there is no money to feed the beast. Again you are sending a message: The people have the power because the people have the numbers.
"Do these things until your demands are met: a minimum living wage, universal single payer health care, publicly funded education from preschool through college, ending corporate welfare and the "corporations are people" nonsense, and removing the influence of money from politics and government.
"So, three things: call a general strike on Nov. 25; file for tax extensions on April 15; and boycott the elections on Nov. 4.
"Will you do it? Of course not. Why? Because you would rather chant than change, and organize drum circles than a revolution.
"Because the government-military-corporate-entertainment complex keeps you fat, stupid and afraid. Because given the choice between change and cable, you will choose cable every time.
"But who am I to talk? I am going back home to watch the EU dissolve, and wait for America to drag us into a war with Iran and China. Bonne chance, mon ami."
His plane to Chicago was called, and he got up and walked away. Who was this mustachioed Frenchman? Obviously I have no idea, but I suspect he would have left me a silver bullet if he could have gotten it passed security. Bonne chance indeed!
Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an author and educator. He blogs at Beyond Religion, where a version of this column previously appeared.