the past few months I've had a lot of mixed feelings when it came to
the Occupy Wall Street Movement. On one hand, it was a breath of fresh
air to see people interested in making a difference and wanting to
change things that they don't like happening in America. In fact, it was
only a handful of months ago where I was watching a documentary on the
band Nirvana and there was an interview with Curt Cobain talking
passionately about certain issues he had with media, politics etc., and
it made me realize that there weren't many people like that anymore.
Nobody seemed to give a damn in this day and age. With the economy in
the shape it was in, everybody seemed to be more concerned about
financial survival and holding on for dear life to what was left of the
American Dream. Saving the world wasn't anywhere close to being on their
list of priorities; indifference and apathy seemed to be rampant;
dissent and discourse seemed to be dead. But then the Occupy Wall Street
movement happened and it reminded me that there are, indeed, still
people out there who want to save the world. It rekindled some of my
hope in humanity.
That all being said, I didn't necessarily feel
the need to join the movement myself. I feel like I protest in my own
ways (mainly through writing) and going to an organized protest for me
would be like a spiritual person feeling the need to attend Church for
no other practical reason than to show off his spirituality. But I can
understand why others would want to go to the protest. And it gives
Washington, Wall Street, corporate America and the wealthy "one-percent"
a good wake-up call - basically, that Americans apparently aren't as
complacent as previously thought. They're not going to just allow Wall
Street to get away with stealing billions of dollars from taxpayers in
bailouts, run their shady credit default swap schemes, purposely destroy
the economy to eliminate the middle class etc.
One thing I've
found most fascinating (and frightening) about the Occupy movement is
how the 'elite' have been responding to the protesters. The first thing
they tried to do was demean the people by painting them as bums,
misfits, menaces and outright criminals. I was recently watching an
interview on TV where Newt Gingrich said - with the signature Republican
smirk - that the protesters needed to "get a job and take a bath".
Frankly, I can't believe that anybody would ever take a politician
seriously who makes such childish, immature, negative and hateful
remarks. What kind of America are we living in when protesters embracing
their American right to change things and make a difference are made to
feel like absolute shit? Bullying leaders like Gingrich are about as
anti-American and unpatriotic as they come. At some point in his life,
Gingrich made the cowardly choice NOT to be free and - out of sheer
insecurity - he's now ridiculing those who actually choose to be free.
This is a man who is a bigger "enemy of freedom" than any terrorist out
there in the world.
But demeaning the protesters ultimately
proved ineffective, so Gingrich and the rest of the elite then tried to
lay a guilt trip on them. They started scolding the protesters because
all the police presence at the protests was supposedly costing the
taxpayers millions of dollars. This may very well be true but it's
important to remember why the protesters are there in the first place.
Maybe if Wall Street didn't swindle the American people out of billions
of dollars in bailouts, run their Ponzi schemes, hand out all their
bogus loans, bet against these loans in the futures market and generally
fuck up the economy in an inexcusably malicious way, the protesters
wouldn't have to be on Wall Street to begin with. Besides, what kind of
America are we living in when protesters are made to feel guilty for
simply wanting to change things and make a difference? A true America
cannot exist if protesting is depicted as being something that's too
costly. That's basically like saying freedom is too costly so you better
shut up no matter what's going on, be complacent and save the
taxpayers' money. If there's anything the taxpayers SHOULD be funneling
money into it's freedom, not into "bailouts" for banks that are
supposedly "too big to fail".
I guess the point I'm trying to
make here is that true freedom is something being battled against by the
ruling powers, whether it be Wall Street, Washington, corporate America
or the wealthy one-percent. With the help of the media, they constantly
chant "Never Forget 9/11!" and remind us about Al Qaeda and Bin Laden
and Zawahiri and underwear bombers and "homegrown terrorists" and "lone
wolves" to take attention away from themselves and their own hatred of
freedom. The truth is that the only "homegrown terrorists" we really
need to be afraid of are morons like Newt Gingrich who ridicule people
for simply being free, tell them to get a job and take a shower etc.
Gingrich talks a big game about loving freedom, but the truth is that
the only kind of freedom people like him love is the kind that secures
his position as rich and powerful while the other ninety-nine percent
struggles every month to pay its bills. He is part of a larger movement
to essentially redefine freedom as something that only serves the
wealthy elite, destroys the middle class and prolongs a society where
wealth is distributed in an absurdly disproportionate manner.
you're for the Occupy movement or against it, one thing we can
hopefully all agree on is that protest and dissent are essential to a
society that is going to be truly free. Once we become hostile towards
this kind of freedom or try to guilt-trip those who embrace it, we might
as well be living in 1930s Germany.