True to the times, this revolution is being televised.
What I’m talking about is the Occupy movement and the increasingly draconian response.
After ignoring the movement for a long as possible, The Powers That Be and the media started paying attention only once it was clear this wasn’t going to just go away. Now most of the coverage in the media focuses on what appears to be excessive force being used to break up the protest efforts.
At the University of California, Berkeley, the police union said a video showing officers jabbing demonstrators with batons in early November as they clashed with campus protesters defending the tents they had pitched as part of an Occupy-related demonstration against university budget cuts is misleading and did not show officers being pushed and threatened. The matter is under investigation.
Meanwhile, on the UC Davis campus, police became infamous with the emergence of video showing an officer pepper spraying peaceful protesters. The officer walked up and down the line of seated, still protesters spraying them down with pepper spray with a look and manner as casual as if he were hosing off his car.
Officials on the Davis campus said violent events sometimes associated with Occupy demonstrations in downtown Oakland and Berkeley prompted them to head off the establishment of tents and encampments on campus that might draw people who were not students. Police defended the response and school officials have said it was more than intended.
That’s not to mention how aggressively the protest encampments were broken up in Oakland, New York City and most recently Los Angeles where 1,400 policemen broke up the Occupy camp and arrested some 200 people.
I’m not surprised by the strong use of force. The Powers That Be have reason to be concerned.
My guess is that part of the reason for the friction between The Powers That Be and protesters is the fact that the nation is seeing something it has seen in over 40 years and doesn’t know how to handle — sustained protest. Not since the civil rights movement of the 1960s have we seen protesters not just take to the street to march, but taking up position in commons areas to draw attention to the wrongs of society with no intention of leaving until their concerns are addressed.
But while the revolution is being televised, the problem is that most people don’t really know what they’re watching.
Partly that’s because each time a reporter asks a protester why he or she is there they give their unique reason. The point that is being missed is that all of the answers revolve around their lack of power and the indifference of the system to their needs and situation.
Maybe that’s why the media isn’t calling this what it really is: a revolution — and as much of a revolution as what has been seen in parts of Africa and the Middle East.
Opponents have dismissed the Occupy movement as a bunch of whiners, malcontents and hippies (Hippies?! Really? I thought they only still existed in old movies), but the truth is the occupiers are angry because their futures are being stolen and they know it.
By nature I’m inclined to sympathize and empathize with the participants. Forty years ago similar arguments and tactics were being used by opponents to dismiss, minimize and attempt to break the civil rights movement.
And like that movement was largely successful, this one will be too. First and most importantly, the occupiers are right. They may have varied grievances but the bottom line is these people are our nation’s fast-vanishing middle class. They see their salaries being suppressed as they take on more and more debt to get an education and their dreams of owning a home and retiring comfortable being pushed out of reach.
Right now, the protesters are raging against anything and everything – though it is ultimately largely against corporate greed. But eventually they will focus and the truth is that what the protesters are really angry about is their fast-fading position as the nation’s middle class. The middle class in America is like the beef at a wedding reception – sliced thin and getting thinner and thinner with each cut.
The rich think they are the backbone of our nation. They aren’t. It has been and will always be the middle class. The middle class has been the foundation for our economy and where most people were happy to end up. There’s a reason why people used to talk about having ‘middle class values.’ When people have traditionally talked about ‘the American dream’ it hasn’t been to be among the rich but to be comfortably middle class. The middle class has been the goal that we have all aspired to and been the buffer that kept the poor from being outraged by the excesses and greed of the rich. Without them and their work and their economic contributions the economy will grind to, at best, anemic growth.
And if you don’t believe that then believe this: no thriving nation succeeds without a strong middle class. Period!!!
Once the Occupy movement has zoomed in on its issue and found its voice it will be clear to all that this is the rising up of what is left of the middle class, the former middle class and those who would have been middle class and they are fighting for what was theirs and is being loss and/or taken.
I am stunned every time I see police acting so aggressively toward largely nonviolent protesters. What can make the power structure flex so hard against a movement that had until recently been so largely ignored? I say it’s the fact that this movement is real and legitimate.
The Tea Party is basically the most radicalized segment of the Republican Party, and their heavy financing and the story of their creation proves it. What frightens the status quo about the Occupy movement is that it really and truly is a grassroots uprising in opposition to what is going on in the country today.
Put your money on the Occupiers.
Middle class movements have historically succeeded in this country in large part because they are basically from the center of the nation and reflect its core values. Exhibits A and B is the women’s suffrage movement early in the 20th Century and the Civil Rights Movement later in the century.
Middle class people also tend to have the education to plan and organize their effort and to articulate their desires. Most importantly with this effort is the fact that the movement is not limited to America but is worldwide. The middle class of the world is on the verge of uniting.
The status quo is used to squelching protest by dispersing opponents. They don’t realize that in the age of the internet they are making a huge mistake. As we have seen in Egypt and Libya, technology connects in a way never seen before.
Pushing the occupy movement out of the parks and off of the campus walkways is only going to make it go viral and force participants to focus their thinking and message.
The question will then be what these protesters are going to do about it.
My guess is that is when they will finally turn their attention to a corrupt political system that has rewarded greed while selling out their middle class status and future. Then they are going to start a push to take back government from corporate interest.
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