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Wall Street and The People's Protest
In the news today we see the spread of the “Occupy Wall Street” protest reach its third month with new protests in support springing up in major cities across the United States. These protests, meant to remind us of the famous Vietnam protests of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, feature mostly young people who are fed up with the symbol of American capitalism, the Wall Street Stock market.
As we see these protests spread, there is one commonality that is occurring, the increasing violence of these protests in other cities, particularly in Oakland, California and the different messages that seem to be coming out of the protesters as to exactly why they have chosen to take the streets.
The “tea party” for whatever anyone might think of it, at least had a common voice and specific concerns. And their protests also had a small smattering of fringe groups, but the main message remained clear and unambiguous, the reduction of government spending and reducing the huge national debt.
What’s happening here is an amalgam of fringe groups who have joined what was a grass-roots protest and morphing it into something beyond its original intention. With elements of anti-war voices in New York mixed with scatterings of anti-Semite protest signs in California, the Occupy Wall Street movement is splintering before our eyes, devolving into a mass of different voices that happen to be in the same place rather than a single, unified movement.
The reason for this movement straying from their main message is rather simple, the main message of Occupy Wall Street, the rejection of capitalism through “social justice”, is contradicted by the protesters themselves who carry iPhones, wear clothing made by corporations, and order pizza on their cell phones from corporations. The visual images of protestors clamoring for an end to the “fat cats” so they can have their money simply doesn’t go over well with most Americans who work every day to put food on the table. Most people don’t beg for money and those that do are not looked upon with much sympathy.
Capitalism works, it certainly has its flaws and there will be those who take more money than they should, but the bottom line is that if these “capitalists” commit fraud, they go to jail and lose their money. For the Occupy Wall Street protests to have any resonance beyond the fringe elements, they need a unified message with specifics that can be achieved in order for most Americans to get behind it.
The Vietnam protests were straightforward, get the US out of Vietnam. Such a direct, simple message was unified and had hundreds of thousands protesting en mass. Today, the Occupy Wall Street protesters number a few thousand in New York and every day we hear a different message or one that appears rather vague.
There is much to say about peaceful protests, the examples set by Gandhi and Martin Luther King show the real power of peaceful protesters marching behind a direct, unified cause. This type of protest is not only accepted in America, it is welcomed as a means of expressing social and political change. The Occupy Wall Street movement has degenerated too quickly and has no similar unifying theme for them to succeed.