Lack of focus, unintentional satire mark ‘Occupy’ events

The week was a bit anti-climactic for the “Occupy the Planters and Lawn Movement” here in Grand Junction, as tens of people showed up to the Mesa County administrative building. Right off, there seems a bit of a focus issue when you’re protesting capitalism and big business in front of a government building whose occupants are ultimately responsible for social services funding.

We also had a few ‘60s retreads present, who were probably disappointed at the lack of fringed vests and protest songs by Country Joe and the Fish.

One of this tribe was even excited enough to craft a comment on my last column about the sadly nostalgic aspect of these protests, including this revelatory portion: “As for me, I’m getting ready for Saturday by digging out my original edition of the late Chairman Mao’s ‘little red book’ and old ‘Death To The Capitalist Pig Overseers And Their Running Dogs’ T-shirt I wore in Boulder in 1968.”

Well, nothing says progress like a 43-year-old T-shirt and the handbook of a dead homicidal maniac. I appreciate him making my point and hope he found a place to plug in his electric blanket.

As to some of the rest, I’m not sure how their struggle is going against Big Bank and Big Business, but it appeared the fight against Big Ironing was all but won. On Sunday, a bit of boredom set in and a march around the downtown area was initiated with some walkers, bicycle pushers, drum-circle devotees and a couple bull-horn enthusiasts.

I heard that they were stopping at banks to protest the bailout of some of the larger ones. It was sort of interesting, since they appeared to not have stopped at the only bank I’m aware of here in town that received TARP funds.

There’s nothing like trying to make your point about the financial system for the benefit of a confused janitorial staff at a closed downtown bank on a Sunday.

Say what you want, but what our local occupiers lack in originality they make up for by not having any clear, intentional message. Like most places in America that have these sorts of protests going on, it’s difficult for them to articulate a succinct point of view.

There’s a lot of bouncing around of ideas when you listen to the occupiers in any of the cities. Some seem interested in free-trade coffee, a segment want their student loans paid off and others are extremely agitated about something to do with the banking system. There seems to be agreement on the need for liberation of marijuana from the oppression of the justice system.

There is, however, an inadvertent message in many of these — unintended satire.

We have people protesting what they believe are the differing treatment of institutions and persons due to their wealth, while they wish to be treated differently because of their complaints. They want to be allowed to break laws because they are unhappy with their lot in life, while protesting those who seldom break the law and often provide jobs and opportunity.

They protest wealthy CEOs of companies that produce things while idolizing rich entertainers, like rapper Kanye West, who strolls among them with braided gold chains dangling nearly to his waist, and whose whole celebrity existence is the product of multi-national record corporations and publicists.

They push stolen shopping carts to protest corporate theft. I assume it’s still illegal to appropriate shopping carts for one’s personal use. If someone decides to pop down to the store and load one into the pickup to use around the house, let me know how that works out.

The occupiers assume the same sort of entitlement they accuse the wealthy of — the law applied only with Lady Justice peeking under the blindfold, judging the person’s position, not the action.

Our local group has, as of this writing, not seen the propensity for violence that has marrred other, larger and more “sponsored” gatherings, and for that I commend them. They are entitled to have their say.

Nationally, the story has not been so good, with many of the protests turning violent and expensive. The tab is about $80,000 a day in New York City.

At first, I resisted the comparison to these groups as the radical left’s version of the tea party, but now I see that is exactly what they are.

Rick Wagner offers more thoughts on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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