Knoxville Occupy Shreveport had 50 people out over the weekend. An event around jobs with Occupy Baton Rouge drew more than 100 on Saturday. Reports from all of ACORN Canada’s offices noted events in Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa. A call from a college in Brooklyn ended with his needing to sign off to go to stand with Occupy Times Square in Manhattan. Occupy events along the same general themes of 99:1, bank accountability, and the need for jobs seemed to be cropping up all over the world. Surely, seems the stuff of movement.
Meanwhile various conservative and other commentators seemed apoplectic about the scruffy nature of the occupy forces. At one level I’m not sure any crew that’s essentially camping in outdoor urban venues is going to smell pristine and be turned out to their Sunday best, since it is almost impossible to fully disguise living rough. At the other level it is almost banal to remind the pundits that these are not the American people in their angry suit anymore than the white rage of public meetings with callow Congressmen during the Tea Party summer of seethe last year were the American people. Both are little more than loud canaries in the deep mineshafts of the current American – and perhaps worldwide – frustration with the enduring recession and the current kowtowing to the same financial fools who got us here in the first place and the weak kneed politicians who are unwilling or unable to stop it.
No one should ever confuse the protest with the protestors!
When it all comes together these are simply the sharp edges of longer sticks and the loud shouts of deeper voices. They would be trivialized only at the most perilous point of politics.
Perhaps only in the early days of the civil rights movement as CORE and SNCC were first battling for legitimacy was there a tactical embrace of contradictory presentation with jackets, ties, Sunday dresses and pleated blouses. These were young people but they were also studied tacticians who understood the horror and hate they were confronting as they tried to send a message past the bigots directly to Washington and the American people. As Senator George McGovern said during his run for presidency years ago, “sometimes you have to look conservative in order to be more radical.” Organizers around Occupy Wall Street seemed to have understood this at some level when they tried to self-clean the park to keep away Bloomberg’s potential eviction, even reportedly hiring professional cleaners for $3000 to help, which has to be a first in the annals of social change protest.
This is a long way from over despite many bumps in the road. In fact it seems to be getting more interesting on a global scale.