Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Occupy Wall Street: The Movement of our Discontent
by Larry Geller
You can tell that the moneyed establishment is scared—by the terrible coverage in the established media of the nationwide Occupy Wall Street protests. That is, when there is any coverage at all. Fortunately, we live in an age when we can connect directly, through our smartphones, tablets, or computers, to those covering events practically anywhere in the world.
The Right (most notably the Koch brothers and Fox News) built and support the Tea Party movement. It’s a corporate-political creature that has some resonance with many people, and appeals to their senses of discontent and distrust of government.
The Occupy Wall Street movement, in contrast, is leaderless and is springing up across the country unsupported by billionaire ideologues. In a totally different way, it is an expression of people’s discontent. Inspired by popular protests in Egypt and elsewhere in the mid-East, Europe and Wisconsin, Occupy Wall Street may be as persistent—and as effective—in raising public awareness on a variety of issues related to the economy and how our elected representatives are behaving.
While the Tea Party may have scared those who don’t support their radical views of government, OWS scares the establishment. For some time, US government has been gearing up at all levels to suppress any popular rebellion. Police have been almost universally brutal and act in utter disregard of civil rights as they beat, pepper spray, and arrest not only those participating in protest, but journalists and innocent passers-by. It happened in New York and Seattle, and it’s happening again. It may be just a matter of time before police kill some protestors at a demonstration somewhere.
Since you are a discerning Internet surfer, you are probably aware of this movement, now in its fourth week and growing stronger. But those who depend on newspapers are being deprived of information, unless it’s op-eds denouncing the movement for a lack of objectives or deriding them as rabble.
The objectives are clear, and no matter how many arrests New York, Boston or other police may make, the protest movement is likely to survive. It’s sad to watch Internet videos of women corralled (“kettled”) by police and then maced. Or watching citizen-journalist videos of paid reporters smacked with batons in the stomach or thrown to the ground on their faces. The police do know what they’re doing, and they have instructions from their superiors to do it. There are no consequences for these Darth Vader black-helmeted storm troopers who violate the rights of others or get sadistic pleasure by beating and injuring ordinary citizens. You have to believe that the job of police officer these days includes those who self-select the job because they might have the opportunity to beat people up. They could not do it unless their superiors sent them on that assignment.
Here’s the infamous video of a superior (“white shirt”) New York policeman pepper-spraying women already kettled and bothering no one. The video has more than 612,000 views at present and is one of several versions posted on the web.
It won’t work, though. That video not only inspired programs on Comedy Central and went viral, but it let to an increase, not a decrease, in participation. It also revealed the sadism with which some police carry out their official duties.
"The reaction has been—and I think the whole world sees it now—that every time that you try to silence peaceful protests, you just get an explosion of new support. And I think that’s what’s happened. And it really bares sort of naked the truth about who the NYPD serve and protect. And if that’s not the people… then we have a problem."
[Democracy Now, Occupy Wall Street Organizer: Protest Expands Despite Police Effort to "Silence" Demonstrators, 10/11/2011]
The issue of police behavior looms over this and other demonstrations. See Corporations and political parties pay police and arrange for settlement insurance so cops can go wild (10/3/2011). How does this contribute to the safety of demonstrators? It doesn’t. Another example of corporate payoffs to police:
JPMorgan Chase recently donated an unprecedented $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation. The gift was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple.
Scroll down in that article for screenshot demonstrating how the New York Times modified an on-line article to make it less protestor-friendly (or see this link).
Today is actually Day 26 of the protest according to occupywallstreet.org. You can follow the action in various ways, for example follow @OccupyWallStNYC on Twitter. Why not eliminate the middleman—instead of depending on inadequate coverage in our daily newspaper, follow the tweets yourself. Tune in to Democracy Now on the web for excellent coverage (also on TV M, Tue, Thu, Fri at 11 p.m. on channel 56 and 7 a.m. M-F on channel 54).
Many local papers across the country ignored the OWS protest movement until it came to their doorsteps and they couldn’t ignore it. Honolulu was no exception. There was an article with a pic of the “Occupied Wall Street Journal” being distributed and a couple of tiny spots. And this strangely inadequate article:
The Star-Advertiser editors were happy enough to print a front-page story by Gordon Pang on October 9, 2011, that gave the impression that the protests were local, limited to Honolulu, and (mentioned in the last line of the continuation) “Maui and Hawaii island.” There was no context in the article to indicate that tens of thousands of people were at that point participating around the country. Since the story was continued inside, there was plenty of space to provide the omitted context.
At about the same time as the article appeared, national coverage was available for the Googling. Just as an example, a couple of hits:
That’s just a small sampling of articles that would have been available to the writer the day before the S-A article went to press.
We don’t know if OWS will turn into a revolution or not. Wisconsin protests were massively attended but not successful in turning around a determined Republican-dominated state legislature and hard-Right governor. Still, those protests certainly helped inspire OWS, as did the European protests including the unfortunate violence n the UK and the ongoing actions in Greece. Add in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya and it becomes obvious why corporations and the politicians they control, along with corporate media and corporate-sponsored police, will move to minimize and then suppress OWS.
Anyone who thinks the OWS protests lack direction or clear objectives has their head buried firmly in the sand. The message is clear, and success depends only on how many people are “mad as hell” and willing to join in or otherwise support the growing protest.
If you are reading this, you are connected to the demonstrations via your phone or modem. Forget the local paper. Follow the action yourself. At least be informed. Or find out what it feels like to be a participant.
At some point the police will realize they are part of the 99%. Republicans want to kill the police union and replace them with a privatized force answerable to a CEO. For some reason Republicans have forgotten why this country was formed in the first place.
I added them to my foavorites. OWS keep up the good work, and thanks to the blogers such as yourself.