Saturday, October 15, 2011

Remember This Image

It's really inconsequential that the now-iconic champagne swillers at 55 Wall Street a week ago weren't wealthy bankers but guests at a wedding party at the Ciprion Club Residences. It doesn't even matter that many of us jumped to the wrong conclusions even though the now-infamous video was shot on Wall Street on a Saturday after the banksters had scuttled back to their mansions in the Hamptons and Adirondacks.

What matters is that the video was shot on Wall Street, that the balcony was at a swanky, exclusive club nobody reading this would ever have a prayer of entering much less joining. And what matters is that it perfectly sums up Wall Street's Marie Antoinette attitude toward the proletariat even during this unprecedented clash that could be just as well entitled When Wall Street Meets Main Street.

No doubt, in their pre-board meeting small talk, they're chortling about the unwashed rabble below over their chocolate brioche and $80 an ounce Hawaiian coffee. But they laugh off the swelling populist uprising at their moats guarded by the NYPD at their own peril. As Act Blue through Howie Klein points out, Occupy Wall Street has spread to 105 cities, about 1500 meetups across the country with other nations joining in (including, most notably, Italy). For the first time in this generation, a worldwide protest movement has started in the complacent United States and followed by other nations and not vice versa.

2011 may well be called by posterity as the Year of the Protest. What began as an unorganized mob in Yemen this past winter quickly spread like a Texas wild fire to other Arab and Muslim nations, including Egypt, a pro-democratic populist rage that toppled the 31 year-long dictatorship of Hosni Mubarek. Syria and Libya soon followed and, thanks to mob justice, we can now count three less dictators among that cruel fraternity.

But the Occupy Wall Street movement is still a civil uprising, content for now just to occupy Zuccotti Park as a staging area for their constant roving protests against the corporate greed that resulted in a seriously-damaged economy and millions of job losses and home foreclosures. Whether or not it was deliberate, Lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park serves a perfect strategic purpose: Not only is it close to Ground Zero but stands between the former Twin Towers and Wall Street itself, the scenes of two of the evilest and most malicious acts of terrorism on US soil.

The protesters invited the inevitable scorn of many sex- and feces-obsessed right wingers ranging from the anal retentive intellectual hairball James Taranto of the WSJ to Michelle Malkin to Ann Coulter. And the best thing they can answer #OWS with is their mind-numbingly idiotic We Are the 53% "movement" that's obviously not rooted at all in sympathy for the devils of Wall Street but just another way to bash liberals who, as usual, have to do the heavy lifting for everyone.

Time and again, we're hearing stories such as "I have to work 3 jobs", "I don't have health insurance", "my homeowner's insurance is outrageous" and "I can't sell my house". Yet, instead of these being indictments on the rapacious Wall Street, these universal gripes are badges of honor and cudgels with which to beat the heads of liberals who are fighting this war for them as well as themselves. The 53% are merely recycled Tea Baggers who had justly faded into irrelevance, the same morons we saw during the town halls in which HCR protesters were bragging about their $5000 deductibles.

So, yes, the usually-supine and completely worthless corporate MSM is finally noticing them and the movement is picking up traction. It's spreading to other cities, other nations and the movement was officially elevated to national status in the very act of the President of the United States mentioning them in a recent presser.

Yet, as stated here before, the movement lacks a specific direction, a specific goal and lacks that crucial, all important face of the movement. And, no, Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon, professional protest poppers who flit in and out then go back to making millions, do not count. And every great movement has to have that voice, that face, that story that represents the whole. Occupy Wall Street needs an iconic symbol.

The antiwar movement didn't have it until Cindy Sheehan took a courageous stand beside a ditch on a dusty road in Crawford, Texas in August of 2005. Migrant workers in California and beyond finally got theirs in the late Cesar Chavez during the 60's.

All Occupy Wall Street has done is to make the obvious even more obvious minus a few inches of our collective comfort zone. It has made no list of actionable demands, no solid threats for noncompliance, had accrued in its month of so-called occupancy no serious political backing and a small fraction of the union support it should've gotten.

You don't need to be in Zuccotti Park to know that most of the protesters are 30 and under and it provides a welcome antidote for the cynicism we older people may have been feeling about the complacency and laziness of our nation's youth. It's refreshing and even inspiring to see America's young people showing the courage, fortitude and stamina to pull off this movement that other nations are emulating and to get engaged in the political/social activist phase.

But they'll need to do more, to achieve more. Because, right now, they're just a brightly-colored amoeba aimlessly drifting without any real direction or specific purpose.


At October 17, 2011 at 8:25 AM, Blogger Bukko Boomeranger said...

Do you ever go to protests, JP? I suppose that because of money and transportation constraints, it's difficult to do so from where you live. I went to the one in Vancouver on Saturday. I could reach it by bicycle -- great ride, in fact, taking me across one of the scenic bridges that goes to the downtown area. The city has bike lanes on the bridges, so I could even pause in the centre and look over the waterfront and glass condo towers on what turned out to be a sunny, cool day.

The people at the demo weren't predominantly 30-somethings, but these were the ones day-tripping it like me, not the hard-core occucampers. Nice mix of folks, mostly Caucasian, as is the population, but with about 15% Chinese/IndoPakistani/First Nations. All age ranges.

In fact, the best chanters on the march-through-the-business-district segment were a couple of girls who looked to be 8 and 10, whose dad, a hippie-looking guy, was shepherding them. The girls were having a giggling great time doing things like yelling "Eat the rich!" when the dad started a call-and-response by shouting "Hungry?" They were so enthusiastic that people around them, including me, just HAD to pick up the hollers. Can't be outclassed by kids, eh?

I talked to a few folks, and they came across as intelligent. Mixed bag of causes, from the standard anti-war/anti-corporate to a "Let us sell unpasteurized milk in grocery stores" group. The latter are everywhere, even in Australia. The stuff that motivates some people...

At October 18, 2011 at 1:31 PM, Anonymous The Internet has 1,000 eyes said...

Dude, did you know a 2007 column of yours got linktified at Driftglass today? Not by me. I have nothing to do with Drifty, but I was just reading it and noticed Jurassic Pork. I didn't click the link (it's about 2/3 of the way down the post) but if it was from 2007, that's like two or three blognames ago for you.

At October 18, 2011 at 2:14 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

I know. I saw it today in a post he just put up. It's lost to posterity, as is everything with my name attached to it.


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