So I made it down to Wall Street to join the occupation on Saturday, and I’d like to share my impressions of what I saw.
The first thing that I noticed is that there was no main stream media presence present. I saw a local ABC affiliate there, a well as NY1, also a local network. At this point, I’m going to take a moment to comment on the main stream media’s coverage of Occupy Wall Street. If they’re covering it at all, they’re covering it for the purpose of deriding, dismissing, and diminishing it.
Check out this article published in that bastion of liberalism, The New York Times. I’m having a hard time deciding on where to begin pointing out how big of an asshat Andrew Ross Sorkin is, but I’m feeling particularly bitchy today, so let’s give it a shot. Let’s start with the reason why Sorkin covered the protest at all; he went to go check it out when he was told to, by a CEO of a Wall Street bank. Let me get this straight; your job is to cover events as they pertain to Wall Street and you ignored a nearly three week long protest on Wall Street until you were ordered to do so, by someone that was the subject of the protest? ASSHAT! And when you did finally go down there, you went for the purpose of determining if the subjects of the protest had to worry about their safety? ASSHAT! Talk about being disconnected with average Americans and their concerns! Let me tip you off to something that you may not be aware of, Andrew. When hundreds of people gather anywhere to make a statement, they’re representative of hundreds of thousands, or possibly millions. If someone has an opinion, any opinion, there are other people out there that share that opinion. Whether those opinions are shared by 1% or 99% of a society is something that you, as a reporter should investigate. But to assume that those opinions are contained within the number of people in that protest is asinine, you fucking douchebag. There are several other digs at the protesters in the story, buy you can easily spot those on your own, so I’m going to move on.
To be fair, I have some criticism of the coverage from the left. Randi Rhodes spent two weeks diminishing the protesters because they’re not focused enough for her. How about instead of slamming this movement, you work to help them focus their message since they’re actually doing something? Oh, and stop referring to them as kids. A person in their 20s isn’t a child. I love you Citizen Radio, but your disdain for people that show up wearing expensive clothes is just stupid. I purposefully showed up carrying a very large Chanel bag. My patent leather designer bag is shiny, but it hasn’t blinded me to what’s going on in this country. I am fully cognizant of how lucky I am to be in the financial position that I’m in. I’m the opposite of an asshole for advocating that everyone have the opportunities that I’ve had. I made the calculation to not look poor at the protest in order to demonstrate that everyone has a horse in this race. Showing disdain for supporters that obviously aren’t poor is dickish and counterproductive because it demonstrates a kind of anti-capitalism that most people simply don’t share. Some of us are very much for capitalism. We’re just fighting for the kind of fair capitalism that puts more people on a level playing field. I’m not against rich people. And I’m definitely not against people getting rich. I’m fighting so that more people can get rich. What are you fighting for, Citizen Radioites?
This video clip from the Young Turks talks about some asshattiness from Erin Burnett;
Ben pretty thoroughly espoused my thoughts on her comments, but I want to add one thing. If Erin Burnett genuinely can’t figure out what Occupy Wall Street is all about, she seriously needs to reconsider her career in the information dissemination business. Perhaps professional trade show booth bitch might be a career more in line with her talents?
I wasn’t able to make it down to the protest for the first three weeks that they were going on, although I was following them closely. I get updates and photographs from the protests from 400 people all around the world on my G+ stream, so I felt like I had a pretty good grip on the situation. Over and over again, the main stream media has criticized the protesters for lacking focus. Before I actually went down to the protest, I was of the opinion that this criticism was unfounded and mostly out there as a way to dismiss the protesters. That opinion changed after I actually saw what was happening for myself. There is an obvious lack of focus going on in Zuccotti Park. I saw signs advocating the legalization of marijuana. I saw signs and petitions to stop fracking. I saw anti-war signs. I saw people with a myriad of different agendas down there. While I agree with most of the causes being espoused, I can see that the diversity of thought down there is muddling the message. That lack of clarity is, in my opinion, the biggest liability of this protest.
Let me describe Zuccotti Park for those of you that don’t know the area. It’s not really a park as much as a very small public square. It’s a whole block, but blocks downtown are very small. They’re not at all what you think of as a city block in New York. You can walk the length of the block in about 50 paces, and the width in 20 paces. To get into the park, you have to walk down a small set of 3 steps, so it’s somewhat enclosed. If that park were filled to maximum capacity, it would hold maybe 400 people. The park is physically located about 3 blocks south of Wall Street, and 3 blocks east of The World Trade Center. Several blocks east of that is Battery Park, where you can take ferries to The Statue Of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Staten Island.
It’s a high traffic area for tourists since they have to walk past that park to get to a lot of the attractions in lower Manhattan. I tell you all of this because I saw hundreds of tourists stopping to see what was going on in that park. With the wide swath of messages being espoused in that park, I’m not sure that many of those passers-by walked away with an understanding of what it’s all about. The fact that I had a better grip on the message before I went down to the protest, than I did after I saw it for myself is a huge problem. To the “free hugs” people, I want to say, I love you but you need to FOCUS.
In my opinion, the single most important issue that needs to be addressed in America, is the corrosive effect that money has had on our politics. No other issue can be addressed until we get the money completely out of the system. Wall Street is the quintessential symbol of that corruptive force. The fact that the protesters chose Wall Street as the location for this movement tells me that they get it. They just need to focus their message so that the disengaged masses also get it. Until they do that, they’re missing an opportunity to educate and recruit more people into the cause.
Dylan Ratigan is laser focused on the money issue. I agree with him on almost nothing, but he’s dead on correct when he talks about the money being the root of all of our problems. He’s been down to Zuccotti Park, and he seems to be getting increasingly more interested in what’s going on down there. I hope that he can help to focus the troops.
That criticism aside, let me tell you what else I saw. I saw an incredibly diverse group of people that included every race that you can think of. The ages of the protesters ranged from teenagers to the elderly. I saw whole families with small children there. There were protest signs written in Arabic. There was a table dedicated to Hispanic outreach. They have a media center. Yes, an actual media center. There’s an information desk. They have several tables filled with food for anyone to eat. They don’t care if you’re homeless or just passing by for a free meal. The assumption is that if you’re taking the food, you’re in need so no one is going to stop you. How disgustingly fucking socialist! To summarize, they’ve created a self sufficient community.
I’m going to keep going down there as often as possible to watch the evolution of this protest. I believe that they’re off to a good start. If you’re not in the area and want to help, here’s a link with resources. Winter is coming, so I’m guessing that they will need winter clothes, blankets, and propane heaters.
Here are a few pictures I took while I was down there: