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Someone at the New York Times finally gets it?

After completely ignoring the “Occupy Wall Street” protests, finally someone at the New York Times seems to get it (albeit in an opinion piece, not in the regular news):

Indeed, the twin drivers of America’s nascent protest movement against the financial sector are injustice and invisibility, the very grievances that drove the Arab Spring.

In the past month, it has been odd to read Twitter and blog posts from the Middle East taking the Wall Street protests far more seriously than anyone here has. My reflexive response was to explain that they didn’t understand our politics; after all, that is so often what citizens of other countries tell Americans when we opine oh-so-knowingly about their politics.

But in this case, I am beginning to suspect that people abroad with long experience of disenfranchisement and trampling of their dignity may in fact understand the fissures in our society better than we do ourselves.

I’ve been long baffled how our media seemed (or at least claimed) to understand the protests that drove of the Arab Spring, and yet when faced with similar protests at home were completely clueless. In most cases, the media either ignored the protests or ridiculed them.

They covered how the Internet (including things like Twitter and Facebook) fueled the protests in the Middle East that have increased democracy and even overthrown dictators. But they refused to understand how the same things might happen here. Are we really that blind? How else will people react when faced with a dysfunctional political system that makes average people feel powerless and betrayed?

Hopefully, the Democratic Party (including unions) will not be able to co-opt this movement the way the Republican Party (including large corporations) took over the Tea Party movement, because the problem is not a partisan one, it is endemic to our political system.

And it is also clearly the fault of our mainstream media, which can’t recognize the problem because they are part of it.



  1. Patricia wrote:

    I just saw a clip of Ann Coulter opining that the NY protests were “the kind of thing you saw before the French Revlolution and the Russian Revolution . . . ” I wonder if it also occurred to her that she might be Marie Antoinette. These folks are living in a bubble created by their own ill-informed imaginations.

    Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink
  2. oregonbird wrote:

    One of the reasons that Occupy has refused to identify any one or two ‘goals’ – so that those goals could be seized and shaken to pieces by the complicit MSM – is that they are being inclusive, unlike the Tea Party. Every demand made in their first (and I wish only) statement falls into one category – return to a democracy, and give us our voice back.

    TPers are welcome. Unions are welcome. They can speak out for what they want, in particular. But Occupy merely includes those demands – it doesn’t identify itself with them.

    Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink
  3. john wrote:

    With all due respect, the Arab Spring and what I can glean of the Wall Street protests are utterly different.

    Arabs- laying lives down for change, many getting killed, continuing to lay lives down, and achieving wholesale change.

    US-not really sure but no personal danger involved for protesters, nor chance of any change whatsoever. Just opinion expressing.

    Good indeed, but not Arab spring.

    If I am proved wrong on chance of protestors overthrowing US financial sector and causing its meaningful reform, I will be eternally grateful. If I detect any chance I will walk outside and join, even though I work in financial sector -(my employer is innocent and actually admirable. We never wrote knowingly bad loans and sold them or other deranged behavior.)

    I admit the Tea Party got some change from a dubious starting point. But they had cynical Republicans backing them for profit. Who is backing WSPs?

    Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink
  4. effisland wrote:

    Who is ‘backing’ the wall street occupation? Nobody, not financially anyway.

    The original idea came from the alternative magazine Adbusters. I’ve been reading it for years, it’s based in Vancouver Canada and has what most would likely consider radical views. The last few years have focused on contradictions in the global economy, greed and poverty, to name a few topics.

    As to whether there is a financial backer, it’s laughable to consider that possibility. These are disenfranchised youth mainly, with even no clear leader. Sure there are leaders who organize the food etc but the movement is composed of individuals who gathered after the Adbusters campaign earlier this summer.

    Personally I don’t see this gaining much traction for those reasons, and perhaps rightly so. On the other hand, from a purely educational perspective, this group could have a positive impact in raising awareness.

    Dominic Rushe writes:

    Ben Bernanke, Fed chairman, is being quizzed in Washington about the state of the economy and has just been asked Occupy Wall St.

    “I would just say that very generally people are quite unhappy about the state of the economy,” he says and with “some justification.”

    “At some level I can’t blame them, 9% unemployment and slow growth is not a good situation.” He says. But don’t expect to see Ben down in Zucotti Park any time soon.

    Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 10:35 am | Permalink
  5. rob wrote:

    I tend to agree with John in that the #occupiers have not been able to pass on their ideas of a sustainable system to replace what there is now.

    We have a similar problem in the UK in that the top 1% (or whatever the % is) don’t feel threatened because they have politicians and the police in their pocket or on the payroll, or their associates in the media have “secret” files on those in power who otherwise would be beyond their control(see hackgate and News Intl).

    Perhaps a combination of occupiers and Tea Party members (unaffiliated to right or left dogma)in the USA could break the cynicism of the rest of us? Time alone will tell, the Hackgate scandal over here is going to last years.

    Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink
  6. Don wrote:

    It doesn’t trouble me that those occupying wall street don’t have a clear set of goals (solutions?) in mind. What is truly important, though, is that they are voicing the very real concerns of a large number of people. I do find it ironic that many of them do appear to be under 30 and have yet to fully experience the downside of our rapidly emerging oligarchic plutocracy.

    Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink
  7. A REGULAR READER wrote:

    A more or less germane snippet from Naomi Klein’s October 6, 2011 interview on Democracy Now:

    “What struck me most is just how hard…the corporate media must be working…to find inarticulate voices, because there are just so many articulate voices… Everybody who you stop and talk to can really give a sermon about what is wrong with this economy and have all kinds of solutions…. It really is a sick cultural ritual…every time there is a new generation of politicized engaged young people…there is this ritual mocking of them; a kind of a hazing, and it’s such a corrupt and corrupting way to welcome [them] into politics, and of course coming from a media culture that has worked so hard to dumb down this society…it’s just enormously ironic when they are mocking these very, very well-informed, educated [people].”

    Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink
  8. Mark wrote:

    MSM media is looking for a way to co-opt the protests … after all, they are working for the corporate entities given life by the SCOTUS.

    It is not surprising that it is an inclusive demonstration… because the ‘class warfare’ is them against us, the super rich 3% and everyone else…

    Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink
  9. Look at all of you, continuing to echo the media’s banging of the “no clear demands” drum.

    When is the last time a massive group of protesters had “clear demands?” This is a phrase invented by the media to take steam away from this situation. If you hadn’t noticed by now, they come up with one for just about everything they wish to crush, and they repeat it over and over again until it’s in your brain and instead of sitting back and saying that it’s ridiculous to expect anything that would satisfy their definition of “clear demands” from a mob protest, you’re sitting back and going, “Oh, seems they don’t have any clear demands, how do I feel about that? Well I suppose I agree that it’s a problem, or maybe I don’t think it’s a problem but I’ll go so far as to admit that it’s a fact.”

    We all know what Occupy Wall Street is about. It’s a message from the 99% to the 1%: “Stop fucking us over.” They shouldn’t have to draft blueprints for an entire philosophical-socioeconomic replacement for capitalism just to get a little respect.

    Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Permalink
  10. oregonbird wrote:

    Anyone claiming that this won’t get traction, or is only about the young – I was in the march the first day of Occupy Portland. And the respectable middle-aged contingent was out in force, as were the young professional families, the elderly were well represented, and every social type – muslim, asian, jewish, mexican, hipster, suit, laborer, alt-lifer – we were ALL there… except our large black community. Not so much there, which I do not understand at all. Still, it’s the young who can HOLD place; I can’t sleep on the sidewalk, they’d need an ambulance in the morning to unpeel me. I’m grateful to the young, who are doing the hard work – all I can do is show up, and split my food budget with them.

    We don’t need to present ‘a sustainable system.’ That’s been *done* – Alan Grayson, and Paul Krugman, and Warren, and dozens of other clever people who have been mocked and ignored by the policy makers – just as they have ignored our voices.

    The demand is very clear – we will not have our voices ignored for the clarion call of money.

    Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Permalink
  11. What really irks me is that OWS is being strawmanned as an “anti-corporate” movement when clearly they are against the things that corporations are currently doing wrong, not the idea of corporations in and of themselves.

    Sunday, October 9, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Permalink