The media are ecstatic over the demonstrators sitting around the parks on Wall Street. They’re cheap to film, since they’re right in front of the headquarters of the major networks, and they’re easy to write about. No heavy thinking involved here. Just lots and lots of pictures and sound bites to fill the space between the GEICO ads. Perfect!
The demonstrations/riots of the 60s and 70s are far enough in the past to have taken on mythic qualities. Like the Freedom Marches and Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights Movement, what actually happened has been replaced by what people want to remember happened. For the political Left, the raggedy assed and stoned hippies that smashed windows and attacked police have become heroic Gandhi figures, oppressed by The Man and motivated by a yearning for peace and justice. Like the touchdown run that memory has changed from 8 yards to 80, many a geezer looks at this freak show on Wall Street and walks down their own memory lane of sideburns and bell bottoms.
OK, enough catchy metaphors. The reality of this so-called “demonstration” is that it’s banal and half a century out of date. The Movement, as it was called, in the 60s and 70s was fueled by a genuine fear of being drafted. Suddenly the thousands of young men raised on John Wayne and the Sands of Iwo Jima matinees were faced with the very real prospect of being sent to a jungle outpost named Viet Nam and getting the crap blown out of them. They were more than willing to chant some Communist slogans and become temporary pacificists if it meant they could avoid the Army.
Obviously the Democrats have tried to gin up some of that ole’ time religion to save Obama’s hide in 2012. They’ve gotten out the faithful street demonstrators we see whenever they want to protest something.
The same 20 something’s beating drums and lugging the same Che’ signs and banners they use for every demonstration. Gays, Socialists of every stripe, and political flat earthers all trying to bring back what their parents nostalgically remember as Woodstock. Except the engine is missing from this train. Resentment of “millionaires and billionaires,” banks, and the arcane issue of “corporate personhood,” is pretty thin motivation compared to a trip to the rice paddies of Southeast Asia.
Expect the media to keep this puffed up for a while. Demonstrations like this are like political stem cells; the observer can make anything out of them they want. If you want depraved hippie wannabes for FOX, there are plenty of them. If you want some left wing talking points for MSNBC than there are nutcases eager to give a sound bite. There’s something for every political taste.
I’ll give the whole thing a couple more weeks. Then Mayor Bloomberg is going to run out of patience and it’ll be time for a little “police brutality.” Someone will have to goad a cop to the point where the cop hits them with their nightstick and some blood flows for the cameras. This will all be accompanied by chants of “the whole world is watching.” That’s supposed to make everybody feel sorry for this martyr to the cause. Except, without Viet Nam in the background, the whole world won’t be watching or caring. The sons and daughters of the Movement will be watching football and grilling hotdogs. The Movement will have moved on.