BY CHARLES MEMMINGER – I’ve been keeping tabs the various Occupy Wall Street gatherings across the country, except for in Hawaii, where the “occupiers” seemed to be the same old perennial, graying, retread group of disgruntled left-wing academics and activists, some of whom I recognize from the days when my mother-in-law was a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in the 1960s.
The occupiers of Wall Street, Zuccotti Park and points west are a different breed. The core are true believers that the financial system is messed up and needs to be reformed. They are non-violent, informed, intellectually astute and sincerely mystified at how a great country like the U.S. of A could have let all the corrupt bank managers, mortgage lenders, derivative traders, insider traders and outright Ponzi schemers get away with scooping up billions of dollars out of the American economy and NOBODY GOES TO JAIL!
But as you move outside the core you run into the communists, anarchists, camera whores, sexual predators, drunken louts, Nazis, drug dealers, anti-Semites, public union thugs, serial public defecators and vandalizers. Not to mention rats, roaches, fleas, ticks, scabies, head lice, scurvy, rickets, marthambles, crotch-rotch, halitosis, “po’ circulation” and the heartbreak of psoriasis.
The news media naturally were attracted to the weirder aspects of the spectacle because, well, what’s more interesting entertainment-wise: a middle-aged intellectual with a pony-tail discussing the finer points of wealth distribution or some guy in a ninja outfit throwing a brick through bank window? And every time CNN or FOX (MSNBC never aired anything bad happening) showed a video of some knucklehead doing something knuckleheaded ( i.e. attacking a CCN or FOX cameraman) the core Occupiers would say, “He’s not with us.”
Here are a few observations I have from the past weeks of occupation:
1. The radical activists and anarchists always planned to eventually go violent and attack property and police. That’s what they do. That’s what they’ve done at every global economic summit. (They didn’t do it at the APEC conference in Hawaii because airfares were too high). These idiots sat back while the core group of peaceful occupiers pitched camp and “hippied-out” knowing their time would come. In Oakland, the anarchists wore dark clothing from head to toe and attacked private businesses and fought the police. The peaceful protestors protested said they didn’t know about the trouble-makers. Clue: They’re the ones dressed like Ninjas.
2. The original occupiers tried to for a micro-society based on “consensus.” No one was in charge and every decision was made by the whole, using silly hand-signals. There is nothing in the natural or unnatural world that operates by consensus. There are no countries, clans, tribes, dynasties, federations, cabals, gangs or coteries that function on that principal. There are no animals who live by consensus. They either live by an alpha male or female-dominated pack society or by behavioral rote, fine-tuned by thousands of years practice, like the march of the penguins or butterflies that fly from Mexico to Omaha, Nebraska every year.
3. By attempting to form an organization of people with no rules or leaders, the occupiers created a nice little model of a dysfunctional bureaucracy. What started out a bunch of people hanging out in a park together evolved into a pseudo-society where various collectives and committees emerged … kitchen committee, library committee, sanitation committee, committee on committees, etc. As the society began to devolve socially and hygienically, “security” squads, anti-rape collectives and intelligence-gathering shadow groups developed, mimicking just about everything that is going on in Somalia right now except the piracy on the high seas.
4. As with any well-intentioned dysfunctional and rudderless enterprise, there were plenty of opportunists ready to step in and take control of, influence or claim ownership of the movement. One basic tenant of Occupiers is that they represent the 99 percent of citizens getting hosed by the 1 percent, the filthy rich. Ironically – because irony inevitably rears itself in these kind of situations – the folks who stepped forward to control or associate themselves with the movement WERE the 1 percent. But they were the “cool” one percent. Filthy rich people like Van Jones, Michael Moore, Russell Simmons, Al Sharpton, Robert Redford, Alec Baldwin, Keith Olbermann and Elizabeth Warren. The most shameful examples of this behavior was Baldwin, who actually is a commercial shill for Capital One credit cards and Warren, Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, who tried to take credit for the whole Occupy movement saying “I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do.” It was creepily like when Al Gore said he invented the Internet and Warren eventually weaseled out of her claim.
5. The Occupy movement has been in a schizophrenic dither about the news media, both attacking it and begging for coverage. Their message has been muddled, at best and bizarre at even better. I loved the interviews with the various Occupiers trying to explain what the purpose of protest was about. You had people saying folks should be able to print their own money, others saying government should take over every house in the country and divvy them out fairly to people, you had one lady saying all Jews should leave the country and others who were just incoherent beyond belief but fun to watch. And because all this embarrassing silliness played out on TV, some Occupiers inevitably and predictably said the government should take control of all news media. Hola Hugo Chavez, mi amigo!
6. The dumbest explanation for the formation of the Occupy Movement is that it is an outgrowth of the “Arab Spring” uprisings in Africa and the Middle East. No it isn’t. Those movements had specific goals: Throw the bums out and set up fair elections for a new government. The Occupy Movement will not throw any bums out. The bums allowed them to “occupy” the parks and public property as long as they found it amusing. Then the bums threw them out. The Occupy Wall Street movement can try to overthrow the U.S. government but I doubt President Obama, Hillary Clinton and the NATO Fighter Wing are going to come to their aid.
7. Now, about this 99 percent versus 1 percent thing. The Occupy Movement folks in the U.S. are being a tad myopic. Many of the protestors are not poor. They are college students whose parents are paying their tuition or they’ve taken out loans. They are educated and well cared for. Or they are union members with good jobs and nice homes. They have to realize that compared to the billions of people struggling around the world in China, India , Africa and elsewhere that – globally – the U.S. Occupiers ARE the one percent. They have it better than 99 percent of the rest of the world. And the global 99 percent look at them as the pampered ones. If they understood this, they might not be so agonizingly sanctimonious.