Haters gonna hate - in which I object to some of the arguments against #OccupyWallStreet - Tactical Ninja
Sep. 22nd, 2011
09:39 am - Haters gonna hate - in which I object to some of the arguments against #OccupyWallStreet
Warning up front - this might get long.
Dunno if you've heard but there are some people attempting to occupy Wall Street in New York. There are a few hundred of them and they've been there since Saturday. What they are protesting is broadly the corruption of the system, and more specifically the complete lack of punishment for the instigators of the US financial meltdown, followed by a taxpayer-funded bailout for the same organisations that created it. They intend to stay there until this is acknowledged and actioned by the US government.
You may not have seen much in the news about it. That's because there hasn't been much in the news about it. There has been a little - CNN posted an article on Saturday, Channel 2 news managed to repeat the article yesterday, Al Jazeera has links to various streams of information. But realistically, there hasn't been a lot of news about it and if you weren't actively looking for it, many people wouldn't know it was happening.
Maybe it's because Yahoo was blocking emails that mentioned it. Maybe it's because police turned up and prevented the group from getting into Wall Street on Saturday, and have been using some very creative reasons to suppress the protest by taking away people's shelter, means of generating electricity, and communication. Oh, also arresting them.
Yet they are still there.
You'll note that the articles published in mainstream media seem a little slanted to frame the protestors in a particular way - the CNN one gives space to a police officer talking about the lack of sought permission and the 'safety issues' of allowing the protest, while the next paragraph discusses the yoga and tai chi classes that were going on within the protest. Dunno about you, but if I were some conservative person reading that stuff I'd automatically write the protestors off as a bunch of disorganised hippies.
Yet they are still there. And they have been learning as they go - there is a list online of things the protestors need. Yesterday they managed to buy a generator, and the food fund reached $10,000. People are donating time and money to this. Tim O'Reilly turned up and added his spoke, suggesting on Google Plus that it was the wrong people protesting - scruffy, idealistic young people, too easily dismissed by those in authority.
Unlike the people in his comments, he actually went down there and walked his talk instead of sitting back in his armchair and judging. And I say good on him and everyone else should shut the fuck up.
Because I've heard a whole bunch of hating going on. Everything from 'first world problems' to 'middle class white kids' to 'look at what's going on in Syria why do these privileged people think they have a right to protest?' to 'what's your point?'
And it makes me wild. I've been studying social movements, as you know. One of the first things we learned is that when there's an uprising, it's not the rich who protest, because the rich have other avenues by which they can change things. It's not the poor that protest, because they are too busy trying to survive. It's nearly always the middle classes that have the education, the time, the resources to protest but don't have the political avenues to not need to protest.
So yeah, it's middle class kids who are protesting and that's to be expected. So why is it kids? Like the articles up there say - they are overeducated and underemployed. To put it simply, in the US at the moment if you have a job, you keep going to it no matter what because if you take time off to attend a protest you're likely to lose it to someone who needs it more, and then you'll join the ranks of 'too poor to protest'. Take out the very rich, the very poor and the Need This Job, who do you have left? The unemployed college students and graduates.
And if leaving college with a $40,000 debt into unemployment isn't a valid reason to be pissed off, then please explain to me where the line between valid reasons and non-valid ones is.
As for the Syria argument, I'd direct your attention to Derailing for Dummies, specifically the entry entitled "Don't you have more important issues to think about?". Now while this page is about arguments with marginalised people and maybe the #OccupyWallStreet protestors are not marginalised in the social justice sense of the word, I think that the suggestion that people getting shot at in Syria means that the issues these protestors have are trivial and not worthy of protest fits right into that argument.
The thing is, what they are protesting is not fucking trivial. You can read up on the global financial crisis here. Wonder at how it was caused by a bunch of unregulated financial institutions in the US playing fast and loose with credit! Marvel at the way in which people were used as dupes so that the investment banks could bet against their being able to service loans and thus make more money! Boggle at the govermental response of bailing out the banks at cost to the same taxpayers who'd been pawns in the game!
And be completely unsurprised by the lack of punishment given to those who caused this. Many of these people not only didn't suffer themselves, they walked away with millions. And a lot of them are still in positions of power. You see in the US, lobbying is big business, and those with the money get to influence legislation to allow them to make more money. And to keep their jobs. Still don't believe me? Go watch Inside Job. Spells it out pretty plainly. And if that's not state corruption, I'm not exactly sure what is.
"But... Syria! They have it much worse over there!" Yes, they do. They are being shot at for protesting pretty much the same thing. They do have it worse. Does that mean that people in the US shouldn't protest?
Bearing in mind, that is, that the US financial meltdown led to a global recession. I don't know how the recession affected Syria, but there's stuff out there about how it's affected India, China, and Africa. Yep, when Americans stop buying stuff, people in other countries starve.
So tell me again why the privileged middle class white scruffy kids in Wall Street are doing a bad thing and should be derided for it? And tell me again why those of us who support protesting the corruption and bullshit that's been coming out of the US and how it's affected the rest of the world should shut up because people are being shot in Syria? And tell me again why it's ok for the police to arrest people for wearing a mask on the back of their head.
Because I'm sure we all agree that people in first world countries have nothing to complain about and therefore we should just ignore their protest or suppress it or frame them negatively so we can be ok with not doing anything about it, right?
And yeah, five days later they are still there. How long do they have to stay before their protest becomes valid? I'm gonna leave you with this from the Guardian - Why 'Occupy Wall Street' Makes Sense.
 Was gonna make a new post for this but in light of the Troy Davis killing, I'm keeping this update down here out of respect:
Olbermann Calls Out MSM For "Media Blackout" Of Wall Street Occupation