Thoughts on Occupy Wall Street

First, I haven’t been myself. I feel guilty about this, but the reality is, I am lucky to have a job, and health benefits for me and my spouse, and I need to maintain that.

But I’ve been following. Closely. In news reports, from first hand accounts of people who have attended both in Boston and in New York. My initial reaction was, thank G-d. Thank G-d there are people out there as frustrated with the corporate control of our politics and income disparity in this country. After watching people react in ANGER to Obama’s fairly moderate proposals and accomplishments of the past three years, I was starting to worry. All we heard from was the people who were outraged that he would be trying to provide health care for all citizens, and protect our social safety net, and ask the wealthiest citizens to pay a little more to keep this country going. Where were my people – the people who believe in all that Obama has started and much, much more?

But now, I read articles like this one, which is a rebuttal to an attack on Occupy Wall Street, and I worry. I am deeply disturbed by the accusations of anti-Semitism at OWS. I don’t really believe it is going on – I have assurances first hand that any actual anti-Semitism was dismissed from the movement very quickly. OWS has from the very start been incredibly democratic and inclusive. I suspect that the “anti-Semitism” charges is coming from the fact that at many OWS protests, in the words of one organizer: “you will find very strong criticism of the state of Israel and their military policy. Equally as strong as the criticism of US military policy.” (Michael Oman-Reagan, Facebook message, 10/16/11) And this has long been a problem – confusing criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. What makes it difficult is that SOMETIMES they are conflated. But not always. And I believe corporate apologists are exploiting this to try and divide the country against OWS, and divide OWS supporters themselves.

And this is my point. At this point, OWS has become a global movement. It is fucking AMAZING that they have gotten people all across the country and world talking about economic justice and capitalism. There are always going to be disagreements, especially the larger the movement grows. I hope that OWS stays focused on their economic message, and doesn’t allow itself to be distracted by foreign policy issues, or divided by the forces that want desperately to divide it. Can they withstand the winter – physically in the cold and emotionally in the face of hostile resistance? Will they allow the movement to be co-opted by people who have other agendas? I hope not. I hope they keep the pressure on us, as a country, to continue to have this dialogue about what will make this country better for all people. Not just the wealthiest 1%, or 40%, or whatever other number you want to throw around.

I leave you with a quote from the same source I cited earlier:

It’s three things: a movement, a performance and a process. Movement: spreading the message that the performance and process …work and teaching people how to start. Performance: Think of the Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-ins, it’s theater to draw attention to a problem, not to solve it through the act. Process: The General Assembly process is a non-hierarchical, leaderless form of participatory democracy that can be used to discuss any issue and include all voices. Dissent, infighting, disagreement and confusion are all natural results of this – of course how they’re handled is a test of how well the people at any given occupation are putting the process into practice, but doesn’t say anything about the movement as a whole because there is no central authority coordinating what’s going on.” (Michael Oman-Reagan, Facebook, 10/19/11)

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~ by realsupergirl on October 19, 2011.

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