Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Participation in Occupy, on the streets or otherwise, by “names” doesn’t automatically mean “co-optation.” It can mean support; recognition; OWS successfully getting the message out; and allies for the fight. Yes, you have to be cautious. But you know, Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie, among others, probably “get” what’s happening as well as anyone, and better than many, walking with NYC Occupiers singing, “This little 99, we’re gonna let it shine.” See video here.
Support from people like Alice Walker at Occupy Writers, and Adrienne Rich and Michael McClure at Occupy Wall Street Poetry adds energy. As does that of Willie and Annie Nelson reading their poem “We are the ones with the 99”.
And notice the emergence of Occupy Marines and Occupy Police. And the number of Meetup cites, via Occupy Together , is at 2135 — that’s a correction from an earlier number, and as of about 8:30 this evening. As many have noted, there is now some “occupation” happening on every continent.
The growing movement also comes with more and more “names” in the commentary and analysis world – media, academic, think tank and more – writing “we have to take this movement seriously” pieces. A lot of them are playing catch-up, but that’s not unusual, and a natural part of a movement process.
Of course, the Occupy movement also comes with critics, some thoughtful, some not, also nothing unusual. Among the latter, and at least for me, the worst are adults and almost adults who present themselves in juvenile displays of arrogance. That’s what I see in the photo above (via AlterNet) of the Wall Street 1% hopefuls taking their glasses of champagne out on the balcony as they literally look down on OWS protestors, and in the accompanying photo (via an article at Think Progress) of some of the Wharton School for Business at the University of Pennsylvania’s next generation, again literally looking down on Occupiers. Further revealing their disdain for the little people below them, these guys included taunts of the predictable “Get a job,” and a sign that read: “Get in our bracket.”
All of which reminds me of Ann Richards’ well-known keynote address to the 1988 Democratic National Convention when George H.W. Bush was the Republican nominee: “Poor George. He can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” Of course, “poor George” went on to become a one termer.
But what’s really interesting about Richards’ remarks, in light of all that’s happened since and in particular, in light of what Occupy is revealing, are both differences and similarities to today, as well as a helpful bit of context toward understanding something about the current Democratic / Republican duopoloy, and our political e/de-volving in general. (all emphasis mine)
… Twelve years ago Barbara Jordan, another Texas woman, Barbara made the keynote address to this convention, and two women in a hundred and sixty years is about par for the course. …
I got a letter last week from a young mother in Lorena, Texas, and I wanna read part of it to you. She writes,
‘Our worries go from pay day to pay day, just like millions of others. And we have two fairly decent incomes, but I worry how I’m going to pay the rising car insurance and food. …
Please don’t think me ungrateful. We have jobs and a nice place to live, and we’re healthy. … we plod along trying to make it better for ourselves and our children and our parents. We aren’t vocal any more. I think maybe we’re too tired. I believe that people like us are forgotten in America.’
Well of course you believe you’re forgotten, because you have been.
This Republican Administration (has) … tried to put us into compartments and separate us from each other. Their political theory is ‘divide and conquer.’ …
No wonder we feel isolated and confused. We want answers and their answer is that ‘something is wrong with you.’ …
Now we Democrats believe that America is still the country of fair play …
In 1988, Richards’ convictions that the Democratic Party still believed in “fair play” was defensible. The Bush / Cheney administration made it possible for lots of people to believe, or at least have “hope,” that all we needed in 2008 was a new, charismatic guy in the White House, and we’d stop being treated like “something is wrong with” us.
I don’t pretend to know what Ann Richards would say today, but I’m fairly certain she’d be much closer in agreement with Alice and Pete and Arlo and Willie, and more importantly, with the grassroots Occupiers “beneath” the tiny but powerful “bracket” above them.
Tomorrow I promise to return to more actual updates, because a great deal continues to happen. Today I just felt the need to give the champagne sipping, upper bracket, silver foot in their mouths group an airing. Until then, a few links:
From the Press Herald: “Chemical bomb tossed into Occupy Maine encampment.” Thankfully, no injuries.
Last night, from OWS: “Occupy Chicago Being Dispersed / Arrested By Police Presently.” Later reports indicate about 130 people were arrested.
Remember the Occupy the Boardroom action? Read “9 Angry, Heart-Breaking Messages to Wall Street’s Elites From the 99%,” at AlterNet.
And from the “this shouldn’t surprise me, but still …” category, via TPM: “Gary Bauer: Jared Lee Loughner ‘Would Fit In Well’ With Occupy Wall Street.’”
By the way, if any of you have additional “silver foot in mouth” examples of Occupy critics, please share. For some reason, David Brooks is coming to mind …