Monday, October 10, 2011

Impossible to love, hard to hate

That's what RobertaX said about the Occupy folks, and as usual I think she's nailed it:

Impossible to love, hard to hate, especially as long as they keep on waving those "End the Fed" signs. Oh, if only they wanted hard currency to replace it, instead of Ithaca Hours. Still, think of all the real work that's getting done in the places where they aren't, all the parent's couches unslept-upon, all the fridges unraided. It's an ill wind that blows no one any good, though downwind of an NYPD squad car might not be the place to be.

Here's the thing. As I told Erik earlier today, there is at least some level of cross-over between the Tea Party and the Occupy protesters.  This is from the flyer they gave us (er, I must admit I'm not reproducing the bizarre capitalization, & am inserting commas where necessary):

  • End the alliance of government and large corporations/banks, so that our elected leaders are actually representing the interests of the people (the 99%) and not just their rich donors (the 1%). Include limited terms on all government officials.
  • Investigate corporations and banks, holding senior executives accountable for the destruction in wealth that has devastated our country and the world and eliminate "personhood" legal status for corporations.
  • Dismantling the Federal Reserve, which is a private institution, and returning the power of coining money to Congress; and the US Treasury returning to sound (real) money.
  • Limit the size, scope, and power of banks so that none are ever again "too big to fail"and in need of taxpayer bailouts.
  • Repeal the Patriot Act and protect civil liberties.
  • End all imperial wars of aggression and bring our troops home.
  • Sweeping, all-encompassing health care and education reform.
  • End law enforcement brutality and corruption.
  • Fair workers' rights and protections including wages, hours, safety, and injury compensation.
Now, I'm not claiming we are perfectly aligned.  Not at all.  But look at that, y'all: term limits, end the Fed, return to real money (gold?), repeal the Patriot Act, protect civil liberties, end law enforcement brutality (I can think of a certain Canton cop plenty of gunbloggers would like to see go).  Aren't we for that as well?  When last I checked, we were.

Here's the thing: this is a nascent movement.  Still feeling its way.  Here in San Antonio, at least, a significant portion of the protesters are libertarians.  That means there is common cause.

Borepatch is always telling us that the Democrats are not the problem, and the Republicans are not the answer.  And he's right.  The problem is that we have an entrenched political class in this country, the very de facto aristocracy Patrick Henry warned us about back in the late 18th century.

We are being played for fools.

We are being given false, misleading impressions of the Occupy protesters the same way they were previously given false, misleading impressions of the Tea Party.  They are no more unemployed slackers (quite a few of the posts on the local FB page were from people wanting to know whether the protest would still be going on when they got off work) than we are racist rich people.  Allowing the same mainstream media we distrust for very good reason to dictate our opinion of this is dangerous.

We should make common cause, to the best of our ability.  Again, this is a nascent movement, at least outside of the NYC group.  Find out where the protests are happening in your city.  Go down.  Listen much, talk some.  Do your damnedest to keep an open mind.  Don't dismiss them as a bunch of rudderless hippies unless you find out that they are.  (And, hey, they might be.  That the guys here aren't may just be another symptom of San Antonio being pretty much the best place, anywhere.)  There's a pretty good chance you'll find you agree with them on something.

There is a window of opportunity to help mold this movement into something that can work with the Tea Party rather than against it.  It's a small window, though, and it's already closing.  When Erik and I went down to visit them Friday afternoon, a couple of Northerner union reps showed up to chat up the gathered protesters.  And Van Jones is already after the NYC folks.  (No, I don't buy that he's running the protest.  But he sure wants to.)

Wanna let that happen so you can feel superior?  I sure as shit don't.


Borepatch said...

Nicely said

Albatross said...

... a couple of Northerner union reps showed up to chat up the gathered protesters.

The movement's already doomed, then.

And I would take these jokers a little more seriously if they would ditch the stupid, tired Guy Fawkes masks and stop marching around in Star Spangled underwear. Until they lose these elements, they're just hippies and hipsters looking to protest for the sake of protesting.

Suz said...

skippy said...

@Sabra - Well said (As usual, I don't agree with all of it, but well said)
@ Albatross - Guy Fawks masks don't strike me as any sillier than tricorner hats.

And frankly, I don't think that Unions involvement necessarily precludes Tea Party alignment. It may mean that the TP might have to compromise with some people across the isle, but I don't see that as a bad thing. Handing full control over to any political faction is a recipe for disaster.

Albatross said...

I disagree completely.

The symbolism of a three-cornered hat -- at least in this country -- is that of patriotism. They serve as reminders of our forefathers who wished to build a more democratic government that was not run by royalty or any religious establishment.

Guy Fawkes was a man who wished to murder members of Parliament as part of a broader plot to destroy the English government and replace it with one sympathetic to the Pope in Rome.

Three-cornered hats = more democracy.
Guy Fawkes = more papacy.

Any way you slice it, those masks are curious symbols for a movement pushing for reforms "so that our elected leaders are actually representing the interests of the people (the 99%) and not just their rich donors (the 1%)."

So, yes, they are sillier.

skippy said...

Actually those masks are a reference to the movie "V for Vendetta", worn buy a superhero/freedom fighter who takes on a fascist dictator solo, and then encourages the population to stand up against the government that was oppressing them thus taking the power of rule back to themselves.

But potatoe, potahto.

Albatross said...

So, Guy-Fawkes-mask-wearing demonstrators see the U.S. government and/or corporations as one, single "fascist dictator" to be overthrown, and themselves as the heroes who will blow up and murder their representatives in the government?

I don't quite see it that way, but tomatoe, tomahto.

skippy said...

Turning it around, I take it then that the TPers see themselves as slave owning vandals that must engage in open warfare against the government which they see as a monarchy? I doubt it.

It's about the symbolism of standing up for what they believe in. Same as the folks people, just a different costume.

"But they're wearing the *wrong* sort of stupid headgear" is one of the saddest political arguments ever.

Albatross said...

"But they're wearing the *wrong* sort of stupid headgear" is one of the saddest political arguments ever.

Hey, you were the first one to make a comparison to a three-cornered hat. I just commented that I thought the masks were stupid and tired without comparing them to any other headgear. That's my opinion, and you've got yours.

OK, you can have the last word. Shoot.

skippy said...

Okay fair enough, you didn't actually say anything except that you didn't like the masks, and my original point was that I thought they were pretty much the same thing as the hats. Although I find it fundamentally unfair that you're not willing to get into a lengthy, hysterical, and needlessly hyperbolic screaming match over this. Don't you know how the internet is supposed to work?

We'll just agree to disagree then.

Sabra said...

I <3 you both. This is the most interesting my blog has ever been. And the wittiest, which I probably should not admit.

Albatross, I think the media whores had already gotten bored & gone home (or, possibly across the street to the Accordion Festival) by the time we got there Friday afternoon. I saw not a single mask or costume.

Albatross said...

Fair enough.


Albatross said...

Holy crap! There was an accordion festival in town? I never hear about these things until it's too late!

Ruth said...

I'd have more sympathy if every other time I saw or heard an interview with an OWS protester I didn't hear the words " I quit my job and came down here....." or some variation there of. Not to mention that unofficial list of demands someone posted via them. Sure its unofficial, and the admins on the site are trying to distance themselves from it, but an awefull lot of them seem to think those are good ideas, which says really bad things about their intelligence.

Roberta X said...

:) Sabra!