For weeks, we bent over backward to give the “Occupy” protesters the benefit of the doubt. We assumed, for argument’s sake, that they wanted to address capitalism’s excesses and the troubling imbalance in American wealth. We were with them, as far as that went. We waited for ideas and inspiration that were never forthcoming.
To even get that far, we had to overlook the kookiness at their encampments – and there’s plenty of it, from mindless chanting of speakers’ remarks, to silly hand signs that signal agreement or disagreement, to demands of free college educations, to incomprehensible recitations of their grievances, to ignorant and sophomoric pleas for socialism, or just something other than capitalism. There’s some sophisticated thinking for you!
We also turned away from the most virulent racism you’ve seen on American streets since the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan.
Weeks later, there is no coherent message. There are no discernible demands. There is no one identified in American society to make the demands to. And even if there were, and if that person could deliver the goods to the protesters, there is no one in the movement to deliver it to; in some naïve utopian child-like universe, they believe leaders aren’t necessary. So, if a CEO went down to the Occupiers and self-immolated, that might delight much of the crowd, but others would want something more.
How do they define success, and when to go home, when there’s been no goal set?
In short, to this point it may be the most ambiguous, unintelligible, ineffective protest in human history. It can’t rightfully be called a “movement,” because there is no movement. Nobody can articulate with any authority what they want, whom they want it from or how they propose to apply enough pressure to get it.
Or, again, where to deliver it when it arrives.
The last straw for us was the Oakland, Calif., violence that injured eight and saw, according to one report, “protesters vandalizing properties, lighting bonfires in the street and hurling explosives at officers.” And, of course, the growing evidence that the protesters are actually costing jobs: One café on Wall Street laid off 20 percent of its workforce after the protests cut into business.
The more peaceful portion of the Oakland protest only shut down the fifth-busiest port in America.
If the Occupiers have a point to make, they’re failing utterly – and are hurting others in the process. They have every right to protest. They have no right to damage property, assault law enforcement officers or cost innocent bystanders their jobs.
They’re losing support and taking a torch to any sympathy that remains for them.