Government & Politics
 

Come on, Buddy! Take my advice or I’m going to occupy Hawaii

Dinnertime at Occupy New Orleans: Nicola Krebill, 31, who works fulltime for the New Orleans Food and Farm Network, has also coordinated the serving of three meals a day to the 50 or so occupiers for the past week. Photo by Matt Davi

Nobody’s listening to me. Presidential candidate Buddy Roemer won’t heed my advice to stage a fight with Occupy Wall Street protesters.  And the local Occupy Nola movement refuses to focus their message, as I suggested. As The Lens’s Matt Davis reported:

[Occupy Nola] protesters meet as a general assembly twice a day to hone their message, which has not narrowed significantly in the past week.

Massage therapist Asher Strunk and unemployed transient Stephanie Visco watched as protesters lined up for dinner. They said they thought the media was looking for a clearer set of reasons behind the protest, but that the breadth of the movement defied such narrow understanding.

In order to increase my narrow understanding of the movement’s breadth, I’ve asked The Lens to send me to Hawaii to cover the Occupy Honolulu protest. Fingers firmly crossed.

In an interview with The Awl website, Sam Brody, a grad student active in the OWS, tries to explain the movement. He says OWS is mainly about “creating a space” for conversation. (Insert eye roll.) Yet, in the next breath Brody cites a query posed by ABC news reporter Jake Tapper to President Obama as one of the movement’s accomplishments:

Anything like [the OWS protest] always has 500 million different goals and other things that it’s going to accomplish without even intending to accomplish them. So for example, one thing that I thought when I saw a reporter ask the President a question about Occupy Wall Street, and he used it as a chance to try to, he tried to say he agreed with the protesters, even though the reporter had framed the question as like, clearly they think you haven’t done enough and are part of the problem, like, just the fact that that interchange took place.

It’s a flippin’ miracle that that interchange took place! It’s a miracle that Tapper asked the question in that way, and helpfully directed the protest movement towards a clearer objective! In my earlier column, I was glad to identify that press conference moment as a valuable signpost for OWS. I hoped they’d use it to formulate an achievable objective, rather than wait and see what random, unexpected political fallout results from their occupation.

But perhaps my “narrow understanding” of the spacious OWS “conversation” hinders my awareness of the totality of their movement’s potentiality. Or something.

To be fair, OccupyNOLA is meeting regularly and making plans. The group announced that they will march each day at noon from their encampment across from City Hall to the Federal Reserve bank at Poydras and St. Charles Avenue. Also, they will hold a “big event” each Saturday beginning at 2pm. For Halloween they’re planning a “big extravaganza… possibly a Corporate Zombie Walk.”

That last idea is pretty creative, and I hope to see more like it.

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  • Mark, my friend, I thought just as you did, and then I read the op-ed by Richard Eskow at “The Huffington Post”:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/heres-occupy-wall-streets_b_992659.html

    ‘Even the sympathizers don’t always get it. I’m sure I get a lot of things wrong too, but here’s one thing I do understand: Change doesn’t begin with policy. It begins with perception. And you don’t change things by asking. You change them by acting.

    But it begins with perception. “All money is a matter of belief,” as someone once said.

    In the New York Times, Nick Kristof shows that he understands the #OccupyWallStreet movement more than most of his peers. “The protesters are dazzling in their Internet skills,” he writes, “and impressive in their organization.”

    But like many other sympathetic observers, he misses their most important point when he says “the movement falters in its demands” because “it doesn’t really have any.”

    As movement participant Nelini Stamp told the Take Back the American Dream conference this morning, “We don’t have demands. If we make demands of Wall Street, we’re saying that Wall Street has the power.”

    But the fact that the movement doesn’t make demands of Wall Street – or Washington, for that matter – doesn’t mean it doesn’t have demands. It does, but they’re not directed at Wall Street, or K Street, or Pennsylvania Avenue. They’re directed at you. And at me, and at every other citizen in this country.
    ….

    But the “one demand” that matters most is directed at our society, not our policymakers, and it’s much more fundamental than these excellent ideas. The demand is this: “Come back to sanity.” That’s the underlying demand that unifies all those items on the #OccupyWallSt website. Our culture is insane today, and they recognize that. Create a transactions tax, and they’ll simply rob us another way – until we restore our society to sanity.
    ….

    But the main point is: This is a song, not a policy platform, and there’s no one composer. Everybody’s making it up as they go along, and everyone else is welcome to join – as long as they don’t lose the beat.’

    Please read the entire long, splendid op-ed at HP.

    The demand: ‘Come back to sanity.’ The main point: ‘This is a song.’

    Forgive the long comment, but I couldn’t think of how to say what I wanted to say in fewer words. Most of the above is taken from an even longer post on my blog.

  • Mark Moseley

    Alright, great to hear from you Grandmère Mimi. Thanks very much for the comment, link and quote. I’ll ponder them, and recommend that everyone visit your Wounded Bird blog.

  • Mark, I didn’t like to blogwhore, but I will now.

    http://thewoundedbird.blogspot.com/2011/10/occupy-new-orleans.html

    And here:

    http://thewoundedbird.blogspot.com/2011/10/message-is-we-are-here.html

    And OccupyNOLA does have demands modeled on the Declaration of Independence. The movement is democratic. Everyone has a say. Occupy NOLA is more like the Greek demos than the Roman republic. It’s messy but non-violent.

    “Occupy NOLA is leaderless non-violent resistance movement composed of people from various sociopolitical and socioeconomic backgrounds. We are all inclusive….”

    See their Facebook site.

    June Butler

  • Correction: Should be ‘Occupy Wall Street does have demands modeled on the Declaration of Independence.’ Occupy NOLA is inspired by OWS.