October 22, 2011 by Richard Drake
For several weeks, thousands of people across the country have been participating in what has become known as “Occupy Wall Street.” These protests have been described as either an angry, undefined mob or the beginning of a new political movement. From your perspective what does “Occupy Wall Street” mean.
If I were a more charitable man, I might be inclined to feel some sympathy for those who have been so critical of the protests which began on Wall Street, and have spread far and wide. Their reactions have gone from mocking disregard to anger, disgust, confusion and a sort of paternalistic “Oh, they have every right to be angry, but they are just angry at the wrong people. They need to angry at the Obama White House and the Democrats in Congress.”
I have been thinking about this question of the Wall Street protests and I had at hand all sorts of dreary figures, quotations and references. But yesterday I scrapped all of that.
I can pretty much sum all of that up in noting that what has been happening over the past month has been decades in the making, and that it goes back much further than merely the presidencies of Barack Obama or George Bush. It has much less to do with the “wrong” sort of home mortgages being granted than it does with those in the great melting pot that is our country feeling they have been in the fire for far too long.
It has less to do with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac than it does with well-dressed men and women on television debating — and sometimes deriding — the lives of the middle class and those in poverty.
This cauldron has been boiling for so long, with so many ingredients added to the mix with a cavalier disregard for human dignity be it income disparity, health care, the environment, workplace safety, the rising cost of education, workers’ rights — oh, you can add to the list.
How can you judge the Wall Street movement? Well, the reactions of those who oppose it is a good measure, I think. When the press more-or-less ignored them (thus permanently giving the lie to the words “liberal media”) life went on as usual.
But once the movement started to grow the media had to pay attention, and then the vitriolic reactions began. We got the jokes, the mocking editorial cartoons and the sneers from the political handmaidens of the corporate class.
And then the anger started to show. They were a “mob,” they were “un-American,” they hate God (no, really, I read that blog this morning) and they hate corporate America.
And then it changed to the patronizing, “Oh, of course they are angry, but they are just not smart enough to know who to be angry at,” refrain.
Of course, there are those who would drive a wedge between those who are working every day, and those who can find some time to protest – on their behalf. Those who fall for this will see it for what it is eventually.
Even if the crowds in New York — and other places — withdraw physically in the coming months, Wall Street has helped to galvanize the American people, and for that, at least, we should be grateful to them.
Richard S. Drake has been writing about political and social affairs in Northwest Arkansas for 20 years. The host of “On the Air with Richard S. Drake,” which can be seen on Fayetteville Public Access Television, he also writes the Street Jazz blog for Arkansas Times. He can be contacted at: email@example.com
Click here to read the response by Mike Landry, with a view from the Right.