Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Best/Worst of 2011 #3: Occupy Wall Street

I’m risking a lot of liberal cred with this pick. Then again, wait until we get to #1 in this list. Anyway, the Occupy movement. There is quite a lot about the Occupy Movement that could be considered Best. The resolve showed by the occupiers in the face of unrelenting shittyness from the Man. From raids of dubious legality in New York, to outright brutality in Oakland, it’s clear that the Occupy movement has rattled some chains high up in the nation’s political system. What started as a general call to hang out has become a legitimate player in the political process.

Then, you have the ingenuity and community spirit involved in setting up some of the larger Occupy encampments. Things like the Mic Check—a way to disseminate complex ideas through a large group of people without using amplification, and without it turning into a huge game of telephone.
"I think she said 'Blessed are the cheesemakers.'"
And finally, without the Occupy movement, you wouldn’t have one of the all-time Best sequences:
  1. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit decides to write “Ripped from the Headlines” episode about Occupy movement.
  2. Law & Order: SVU builds fake Occupy camp as its set… in a public park.
  3. Real Occupy protesters occupy fake Occupy camp.
  4. Real NYPD cops raze fake Occupy camp, send both real & fake Occupii to the winds.
Yes, this all happened. Great success!

So, yes, there’s a lot of Best involved with Occupy Wall Street… but this is Best/Worst. Now, you might assume that the worst would clearly be represented by the violent crackdowns to the movement, or by certain police organizations going “what 1st amendment?” in regards to journalists attempting to cover raids, or even right down to the NYPD for destroying the Zucotti Park library and then lying about it. All of those things are very distinctly Worst. But what’s really the Worst is that the Occupy Movement was designed from the get-go to accomplish nothing.
"What do we want? Something! When do we want it? Now!"

Yup, you heard me. Look, the movement has been around for how long, now? And what has it achieved? Not a whole hell of a lot, right? Right. Now, I will throw OWS a bone in that the legislative party you might expect to take up action in this situation (Congress) is currently enjoying Confederate money-levels of uselessness. 
But even if Congress did decide “Hey, let’s write some laws that OWS would like,” they probably wouldn’t be able to do it. Why? Because no one knows what Occupy Wall Street wants. Sure, they have some generalities—enhance and enforce regulation of various Wall Street firms, halt the erosion of the middle class, etc., but there have been no specifics. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the movement has been vehemently opposed to appointing any leaders. That’s not really a Worst thing in and of itself, however the fact is, having everyone be able to speak for the OWS means that its voice will never be coherent. Second, the movement has said that they don’t want to make any demands, because ‘only terrorists give demands.’

A person can demand something they feel is within their rights, without being labeled a terrorist. You know what gets you labeled a terrorist? When you “demand” those rights by blowing shit up, or by otherwise attempting to make your point through sheer violence. If you’re not doing that, feel free to demand away! Why, you know what recently-spawned political movement absolutely does not hesitate before demanding things?
Absolutely it’s the Tea Party. While the edges of the Tea Party are definitively frayed, the core message is easy to take away: Tea Partiers want to repeal Obama’s Health Care Act, and to reduce government spending drastically with an eye on paying off the federal debt. You may not agree with their message (Spoiler: I don’t!), but at least you know the message.
It not always a good thing to know, of course.
Occupy Wall Street’s message, by contrast, seems to be something along the lines of “We want change but you’re going to have to guess what it is, and we’re not leaving until you do.” Um, good luck with that. Heck, even if you don’t want to give “demands,” I don’t see anyone holding you back from making concrete “suggestions.” Something along the lines of “We might like it if you took Sarbanes-Oxley a step further, or maybe if you stopped letting corporations pour oceans of money into our elections by doing something about Citizens United. Maybe you could work on that, for a start.”

We’re running long, so I won’t get into another of my OWS pet peeves (for those of you keeping score, it’s that having a college or university in it does not automatically mean that your town should be occupied). Instead, I’ll sum up: for having the Best intentions, but the Worst execution, Occupy Wall Street was an easy pick for the Best/Worst of 2011.

Tomorrow: we shift from a large movement, to a single guy whose Best/Worst value looms large.

No comments:

Post a Comment