#OWS: The Status Quo Strikes Back

I went with my wife and daughter to Times Square on Saturday evening, October 15, to add our numbers to the #occupationWallStreet demonstration that ended up there, climaxing a day of global protest. It was invigorating to know people were there, like us,  specifically for the shared purpose of declaring to the world that this is a movement–or a revolution, I like to think– only just beginning. And on top of that, to witness the tourists and ordinary denizens of the shops, hotels, restaurants and street corners near America’s Crossroads seeming to get that they were observing history being made around them, like the diners pressed against the windows on the second story of  T.G.I.Friday’s staring down at the throng-choked sidewalk below.  It was difficult to tell how many in the crowd were existing in the gray area between tourist just happening to be on the spot and protester in the making. (Truth be told, probably not many. But among the workers, that’s another matter.)

When we got home, my wife read aloud a report from Reuters called “Wall Street protests go global, riots in Rome,” that stunned me–actually depressed me, to be more precise. The story, by Philip Pullella from Rome with additional reporting by Ray Sanchez and Ed McAllister in New York (among others elsewhere), gave the distinct impression that, besides the Roman riots, the news service’s reporters were unimpressed with the subject. Continue reading

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Liberals Are Terrified of #OccupyWallStreet

TNR: Liberals should be nervous

Picking up where we left off yesterday, The New Republic has now offered its official two cents on the protests on Wall Street and, as one would expect of the stuffy self-appointed organ of the liberal power elite inside the Beltway, it disapproves.

[T]o draw on the old cliché, the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Just because liberals are frustrated with Wall Street does not mean that we should automatically find common cause with a group of people who are protesting Wall Street. Indeed, one of the first obligations of liberalism is skepticism—of governments, of arguments, and of movements. And so it is important to look at what Occupy Wall Street actually believes and then to ask two, related questions: Is their rhetoric liberal, or at least a close cousin of liberalism? And is this movement helpful to the achievement of liberal aims?

This task is made especially difficult by the fact that there is no single leader who is speaking for the crowds, no book of demands that has been put forward by the movement. Like all such gatherings, it undoubtedly includes a broad range of views. But the volume of interviews, speeches, and online declarations associated with the protests does make it possible to arrive at some broad generalizations about what Occupy Wall Street stands for. And these, in turn, suggest a few reasons for liberals to be nervous about the movement.

The Editors responsible for the unsigned editorial then go on to outline the differences between #ows’s radicalism and TNR’s proper liberalism (the former is dreamy, “group-thinky” and utopian, the latter skeptical, pragmatic and pro-capitalist) , before urging liberals to stay the hell away. Continue reading

Jeffrey Sachs Supports #OccupyWallStreet

This is what democracy looks like when it works: media dialoguing with a rational person telling the truth about what’s wrong and what needs to change:

This is just over 22 minutes, but it’s 22 minutes well spent.

Info from the YouTube video on Sachs:

Watch Jeffrey Sachs, leading environmentalist and economist, and a respected Professor at Columbia University, speak out at the growing, inspiring Occupy Wall Street movement. Sachs is one of many professors, celebrities, community leaders, spiritual leaders and public figures who are speaking out in support of the OWS movement and what it stands for.

The Burnett Rule: If You Buy Something, Don’t Say Something

Erin Burnett’s snide putdown of #OccupationWallStreet on her new CNN platform OutFront included some sniffing over the fact that the protesters (like other Americans) drink bottled water, eat “catered lunch,” (actually slices of pizza from a local pizzeria, probably courtesy of anonymous online supporters), wear designer clothes, use Apple computers and Blackberries. The implicit “argument” in Burnett’s patrician sniffs, which we’ll no doubt be hearing over and over from the protest’s sideline critics in the days to come, is rendered explicit in this ironic photo art found on Twitter:

http://twitpic.com/6wh19u via @ForceMajeure_

So on this account, if you consume any of the products of corporate capitalism, it’s hypocritical to protest against corporate capitalism. What, then, do the Burnettists think is the correct attitude of consumers toward corporate capitalism? Obedience? Submission? Worship?

We are not only consumers–not only economic animals, but also political animals. The fact that we consume the products of the predominant economic  system doesn’t disqualify us from criticizing the political system that serves the interests of the “captains” of the system at the rest of our expense, does it? The protest is not about the economic behavior of corporations–not about capitalism per se, in other words–but about their social, political and moral behavior.

Burnett pretends to be a journalist, which of course she is not. (Seriously, Erin, a journalist?!) She is an apologist for the 1%. But anyone who is not in the role Burnett has chosen to play ought to pay closer attention to what the occupation is about, ought to use their minds to examine what the occupiers are actually saying.  I think most Americans will tend to get it if they give it a little thought, because I think most Americans can see that the system does not favor their own interests any more than it favors the protesters.

Profiling in Oslo

I just came upon this amazing paragraph from a right-wing blog, referring to yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Oslo and Utøya:

I happened to be listening to the radio this morning, as the periodic news updates about the tragedy began coming in.  The first report said that the police had apprehended a “blue eyed suspect’.  A later teaser described the suspect as “an anti Islamic Fundamentalist”.  By noon they referred to him as a “Christian fundamentalist”.  Switch any of these descriptions and tell me if the narrative would fly.  What media outlet would ever dare to describe a suspect as a Middle Eastern, anti Christian, Muslim fundamentalist, even if the evidence overwhelmingly pointed in that direction?

You’ve got to be kidding, even though this is no subject to kid about. Continue reading