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Occupy Wall Street

If Occupy is only sound and fury
it will signify, and change, nothing

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.


Theodore Roosevelt recognized
best preventative for socialism

“(Men often) forget that constructive change offers the best method of avoiding destructive change; that reform is the antidote to revolution; and that social reform is not the precursor but the preventive of socialism.”

—Theodore Roosevelt, president, soldier, author, statesman,
quoted in A Theodore Roosevelt Round-Up
by Hermann Hagedorn and Sidney Wallach,
Published by the Theodore Roosevelt
Association, 1958


Who knew? We’d be willing to bet not a single Wall Street bank or investment house CEO has read or heard Theodore Roosevelt’s prescription for embracing constructive reform to ward off revolution, “destructive change” and socialism. The same goes for Republicans in Congress and at Fox News who are so anxious to brand Occupy Wall Street protesters and their counterparts across the country as unruly mobs of bellyaching troublemakers.

How remarkable it is that one of the few really good Republican presidents this country ever had was so insightful and progressive so long ago. We suspect that if Roosevelt was alive today, you’d be more likely to find him at Zuccotti Park with the OWS demonstrators than in a Fox studio condemning them.

We also suspect that if Roosevelt was alive today, he’d have nothing to do with today’s conservative Republican extremists.


Naomi Klein: OWS protesters exhibit wisdom
by not sullying cause with acts of violence

“Something else this movement is doing right: You have committed yourselves to non-violence. You have refused to give the media the images of broken windows and street fights it craves so desperately. And that tremendous discipline has meant that, again and again, the story has been the disgraceful and unprovoked police brutality. Which we saw more of just last night. Meanwhile, support for this movement grows and grows. More wisdom.

—Naomi Klein, author, from a speech titled,
“Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important
Thing in the World Now,” included in an
article at The Nation.

Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, excellently makes a point we were about to write a post on. So instead, we present this quote from a longer outtake in a post Dusty has written over at her Leftwing Nutjob blog. (We strongly recommend you follow the link and read Dusty’s post; you’ll be glad you did.)

Understandable though they sometimes are, angry, violent demonstrations turn off the larger public protesters hope to reach and spur to action. So far, Occupy Wall Street people, along with their “Occupy”-named counterparts across the country, have been remarkably peaceable and restrained, even in the face of unwarranted roughness by a few in law enforcement.

The demonstrators’ restraint speaks well of them as people. It also makes clear they’re serious about righting wrongs and restoring a measure of fairness to an economy, polity and society all badly out of whack.

OWS people’s restraint is all the more important because the squawking heads of the right-wing noise machine lie about them daily, depicting them as a mob of lowlife troublemakers, anarchists and slackers envious of others’ wealth and success.

No one should be fooled by these lies. Nor should they be persuaded by the fact these activists don’t have military-trim hair and don’t dress in business casual. Spending days out in the elements in a small park on a very busy street in New York City is no less roughing it than hiking in a rugged wilderness. With all the traffic going by, plus the weather, people get grubby and can do only so much freshening up in restrooms of nearby buildings.