Certainly some of the issues raises by the ongoing protests at Wall Street and various cities across America are worthy of serious discussion and debate: the disparity between economic classes, the government bailouts to the financial industry and cushy severance packages to failed CEO’s vs the majority of those who can barely scrape by month-to-month, or might have lost their jobs (and homes, and savings) with no such financial safety net (a discussion of such here with Rod Dreher).
If you want serious analysis of the events, I recommend this excellent coverage by Robert David Graham (Errata Security), providing the quality coverage lacking in the mainstream media.
At the same time, it’s hard not to see the whole gamut of political-ideological factions — anarchist, marxist, libertarian, “tea party” (although the latter are branded as infiltrators wishing to “co-opt” the demonstration) — assemble to voice to their righteous indignation, and observe the moments of unintentional comedy and occasional irony that result . . . if not for which we might take their message just a little more seriously:
- The amusing phenomenon of the “human microphone” to circumvent New York City’s requirement for an “amplified sound permit.”
- The transformation in the space of a week to a tourist hotspot, receiving a string of celebrities and academics including union-busting millionaire filmmaker Michael Moore — whose anti-establishment documentaries are themselves funded by the very corporations he protests (but he’s a man of the people, right?).
- John Lewis, a veteran of the 1960’s civil rights movement, follower of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, a participant in local sit-in’s and a supporter of the Montgomery bus boycott — denied his right to address an “Occupy Atlanta” crowd by their inability to establish a “consensus” as to whether he was worth listening to.
- The local retailers (and neighborhood residents) quickly tiring of the “occupation” of their businesses, proclaiming themselves entitled to the use of their facilities regardless of whether they make a purchase. Stacey Tzortzatos of Panini & Co. Cafe quickly became an “enemy of the people” by installing a lock on her bathroom door, after finding the sink ripped off ( New York Times October 7, 2011).
- From Reason – Remy’s Occupy Wall Street Protest Song and Occupy Wall Street: A Manifesto.
- Lastly, Tom Beaudoin (of the Jesuit weekly America) has been thus inspired:
While participating in the “Occupy Wall Street” protests in lower Manhattan, I have begun to wonder what would happen if Catholics took this model and applied it to their passion for and grievances with their own church.
Imagine a group of Catholics whose deep care for the future of their church is matched by their sense of responsibility to name, protest and change what is intolerable about that church today: in the form of nonviolent physical occupation of spaces, in the form — necessarily imperfect and unruly — of democratic organization, in the form of continued open-ended articulations of visions of a different Catholic Church, without prematurely forcing the movement to take on a specific agenda. And yes, in the form of consciousness-raising and of direct action. This would be the Catholic version of the Arab Spring, to combat the long Catholic Winter.
(Spare us, Oh Lord).