Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Why The 99% Doesn't Like The Occupy Movement

Remember when it was called "Occupy Wall Street?"

Remember when the protests were near the offices of the investment banks and trading firms that helped bring on the financial crisis?

Remember when "Occupy Wall Street" framed the debate as, the 99% vs. the elites who abused their role in the financial system and gambled with the fiscal health of the United States?

Well, that's all in the past.

What is "Occupy" now? Well, just read the description of their "May Day" (emphasis mine):

"We are here to celebrate our power as people who have found unity of purpose. Today we assert our power as working people. We declare our solidarity with all people of the world. We affirm our rights to economic security, to meaningful work, to health care, to public services, to safe and healthy communities, to free, quality public education from pre-K to college, and to civil liberties..."

Wait, there's more!

" We seek an end to an era wherein a handful of political and economic elites govern in the name of democracy. We want an end to assaults on our human rights. We want an end to tax breaks for the rich. We want an end to the attacks on our right to organize. We want an end to the mass incarceration of people of color. We want an end to all wars and an end to the militarization of our foreign policy. We want an end to our current political system that is bought and paid for by 1%- ers. We want legalization, equal rights, civil rights, and a path to citizenship for immigrant working families. And we want citizenship to mean, as it should, that all people are to be treated justly and equally by their government."

 Phew! Anything else, occupyers? To the schedule of events!!!

"Guitar Workshop and Rehearsal with Tom Morello

Meditation Flash Mob followed by Kirtan

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Contingent! 

Occupy the Rent Guidelines Board: A Tenants’ General Assembly"

 So... in short, Occupy is now about every single liberal cause and hippie movement of the last 60 years, with a grab bag of anarchist ideas and communist philosophies. Their goal is to not only end corporate malfeasance, but also to return to a simple way of farm living and learn guitar.

To accomplish these targeted, "unified" goals, which are absolutely all related to one another and all have the same urgency and context, the May Day organizers have planned to hit the 1% right where it hurts... right in the gut of the 99%.

Yes, that's right. In order to teach those "government elites," they're going to help shut down transportation and commerce for the day. In other words, make it really difficult for working people to get to work and do their jobs. This will hurt the 1%, because they'll be forced to either stay home in their mansions and play tennis in their indoor recreation areas, or they'll need to take their helicopters to work or risk being late for work at the companies they own. HOW WILL THE 1% SURVIVE!!?!?!

Surely, when the 1% see the streets they rarely ever travel on blocked by guitars and wannabe-Buddhists, they'll immediately surrender, handing Jimmy Ninetynineperecent the keys to the Capitol Building. "We so sorry, 99%," Mr. Moneybags will say. "Your rendition of Knocking on Heaven's Door while blocking traffic on 5th Avenue really spoke to my soul, and convinced me to take you completely seriously. I admired how organized and focused your movement is. The 526 things you said you wanted? Done."

And then the 99% will rejoice!! Who cares if their lives were made more difficult and annoying for a day!? Who cares if someone lost their job because the ladies boutique they worked for had slow business due to the Occupy protest blocking the street? Or an ambulance couldn't get through to save a life because Harry Hippieshoes was leading a parade of Pro-Palestinian, Anti-Israeli Mexican Immigrants For Legalization of Marijuana and Exotic Animal Ownership?

Okay. Enough with the sarcasm. But as one who identifies with many of the 828.3 causes the Occupy movement represents, I'm terribly frustrated. Because instead of fighting for something everyone can get their head around--the out-of-control corruption of our financial system by investment banks, risking our money to help themselves get richer--the movement is instead broadcasting a muddled message and carrying out actions that only seem designed to malign police officers and the working class. A YouTube video of a cop pepper-spraying protesters gets a lot of clicks, and makes people mad at cops, but does it really do anything to focus our attention towards the growing gap between rich and poor in America? No.

"Why is the general public so negative about the May Day protest?" an Occupyer asked the popular social news site Reddit--a site that helped drive the initial protests. The best answers could be summed up like this:

"When you inconvenience and annoy the common man, he does not rally to your side. He sees you as the enemy, not what you're fighting against."

That's why the Occupy movement will fail. They're occupied with too many things, and they're occupying the wrong places.

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