In a couple of days they’re gonna take me away
But the press let the story leak
When the radical priest come to get me released
We was all on the cover of Newsweek
And I’m on my way, I don’t know where I’m goin’
I’m on my way, I’m takin’ my time, but I don’t know where . . .
—From “Me and Julio Down by the School Yard” by Paul Simon.
Week before last, a middle-aged man who identified himself as an Occupy Movement supporter and participant got on the wrong side of Randi Rhodes because after mentioning “phase 2″ he couldn’t utter one coherent sentence about what phase 2 could be or should be.
Since then, we watched Keith Olbermann interview an earnest, idealistic, almost spacey young man introduced as some kind of Occupy Movement leader. Much as Rhodes’ caller, this young man eschewed politicians, the political process and made it clear those in the movement are determined not to be co-opted by either major political party.
Keith Olbermann asked some pertinent questions, but failed to press the young man about where the Occupy movement is going. That was probably just as well, because we got the impression Olbermann’s guest couldn’t have given a much better answer than the befuddled caller Rhodes got huffy with.
The reality so far is, too many Occupy protesters are going to jails, to hospitals or around in circles of being run out of and then returning to their chosen camp sites. The mayors of Philadelphia and Los Angeles are just now evicting protesters in their cities.
Citing public safety concerns, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa urged protesters to spread a message of economic equality and offered them space on the steps of City Hall during business hours — but said a “long-term encampment” won’t be tolerated.
The news story quotes an open letter Villaraigosa wrote to the protesters: “In seven short weeks, you have awakened the country’s conscience. You have given voice to those who have not been heard.”
Indeed, the protesters have done that. They’ve shown spirit, strength and remarkable self-discipline, sometimes in the face of outrageous police brutality. The protesters have demonstrated their movement can attract large numbers of likeminded people. They’ve also demonstrated admirable perseverance.
All that is good but not enough. If the Occupy Movement is to ever be anything more than a feel-good exercise in bemoaning all that’s gone wrong in our political system, government and economy, the people in it will have to get their act together.