Movement Made Up Of Fools

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A protester in New York hoists a flag featuring corporate emblems in place of stars.

The so-called “Occupy” movement is difficult to quantify. They’re outraged, but over what: general opposition to American governance? The large population of Obama supporters belies that conclusion. Perhaps the movement is a “youthquake,” as a rising generation asserts its growing power? But the sizeable proportion of middle-aged ne’er-do-wells speaks to a simple rehashing of aging complainants. And a call for racial equity is out, given that the movement is about as racially diverse as the Kennedy compound.

Some seem to despise the wealthy and their perceived sway over politics. The influence of fascist billionaire George Soros and the presence of Jeff Immelt in the White House lend their outrage credence. Unfortunately, Democratic battalions including the Soros-controlled Moveon.org and the union thugs have co-opted what might have been a valuable voice against the increasingly imperial Presidency and its attendant excesses. The corporate media has toiled to offer the “occupiers” the grassroots legitimacy they denied the significantly more philosophically honest Tea Party. Ultimately, the so-called “Occupy” movement is fairly rote. Leftists and far leftists shrieking at the top of their lungs over the fact that life has failed to meet their expectations.

I considered catching local press reports and basing an analysis thereon. However, I’m not Jayson Blair, and this isn’t The New York Times. So I ventured downtown to the park in which the local chapter of this slacker revolution set up shop. I expected the same retro hippies endlessly searching for the second coming of Jerry Garcia, the pseudo-anarchists with their designer-label black clothing and made-in-China “Che” T-shirts and college students, ignorant of the harsh realities of life outside the dormitories, whipped into a partisan frenzy by ivory tower academics who have spent their lives similarly disconnected from the travails of normal existence. I was not disappointed by the confirmation which awaited me; although, I did experience a bit of a letdown over the meager attendance. While massive throngs attend rallies nationwide, the local “Occupy” chapter couldn’t manage to occupy more than the edge of the city park it chose as a base. A father and son merrily tossed a football on the grass within first down yardage of the assemblage.

As I approached down a side street, a group of eager youngsters stepped out of a Land Rover, signs in hand. The irony of arriving at a protest over economic distress and perceived oligarchy in America in a $50,000 car which can’t achieve 20 mpg off a cliff in a tornado evidently was lost on all.

Wandering through the “crowd,” I noted that all the protesters wore identical red bandannas, presumably to differentiate each other from the much larger number of tourists who were trying to take photos of the historic setting.

I observed one fellow toting a flip camera mounted to a tripod walking from protester to protester, demanding on-camera statements. Actually, he walked from young female protester to young female protester and gathered mostly giggles. I suppressed the urge to tell him that reacquainting himself with deodorant and a razor might improve his odds.

Another college-aged protester held up a hand-lettered and incredibly verbose sign proclaiming something about banks, but the combination of poor handwriting on his part and disinterest on mine left it unreadable and unread.

A number of the signs read: “Somos Uno,” although everyone in attendance spoke English. The protesters cheered each time a passerby honked his horn, blissfully unaware that at least half of the honkers were merely warning them to get back on the sidewalk.

A number of signs featured the slogan “war is not the answer,” alongside the logo of the “Friends Committee on National Legislation.” I have no issue with Quakers, although I thought it odd that a group dedicated to “legislation” was associated with a movement which has nothing to do with it.

I didn’t catch many of those ubiquitous “99%” signs. Perhaps someone clued the occupiers into the fact that they hardly represent 99 percent of anything other than Mother Jones subscribers. Either that, or someone noticed that the reviled 1 percent pay close to 40 percent of income taxes. I somehow doubt both scenarios, actually.

As I was leaving, I encountered a man wearing mismatched fatigues who was headed toward the occupiers in decidedly non-martial gait. I asked him if he had served.

“I was a Marine,” he said.

“So, you went through basic nearby,” I said.

“Oh yeah, Fort Stewart, man,” he replied.

Marines start Corps life at Parris Island, S.C. — Fort Stewart is the home of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.

Next time, I’m staying home.

–Ben Crystal

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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