For several weeks now, a committed group of young men and women have encamped at Zuccotti Park and have been protesting daily on Wall Street. The protests in New York have captured the attention of the entire country and have been duplicated in cities throughout the United States.
Naturally, there are those who are not at all enamored with what these young people are trying to do. The protesters have been accused by conservatives of engaging in class warfare and lawlessness. House majority leader, Eric Cantor, for example, called the protesters "a growing mob." Republican presidential candidate, Herman Cain, labeled them as "anti-American" because they are "anti-capitalism and anti-free market" and just plain jealous of the success of Wall Street tycoons.
The protesters have also been accused of having an intellectually incoherent agenda. Certainly, their cause was not helped by interviews that were aired with bubble-headed neo-hippies, who seemed incapable of explaining why exactly they were on Wall Steet in the first place or who appeared to have agendas that had nothing to do with corporate greed at all.
In fact, most of the protesters are united in a common theme--namely that 99% of the country is being cheated by the richest 1%. Recently, the protesters put out a "Declaration of the Occupation of New York City," which couldn't be clearer in it's critique of corporate practices that have driven the United States to the brink of economic disaster.
For twenty years I've been bemoaning the fact that American youth has been totally apathetic in the face of widespread economic injustice, the concentration of power in the hands of a corporate elite, the co-option of government by these same elites and their enablers in the White House and Congress, and the frightening growth of the military-industrial complex. Now the Millennial Generation finally seems to have found it's mojo and I am damn proud of them for it. The Occupy Wall Street Movement represents what is noblest about the American tradition--the fact that ordinary citizens have the right (and indeed the duty) to speak out against social and economic injustices. The spirit that animates these protests is the same that inspired the Civil Rights and the Anti-War Movements of the 60s and it has the potential to be equally as transformative.
So what can we do to support this important movement. First, read about what the protesters are actually saying, rather than relying on the distorted commentary of the mainstream media. Then, if you live in a city where protest are going on, consider lending your support. Numbers, unfortunately, do count, and if enough Americans register their disgust at the way things are going in this country, our elected official will be forced to take notice.
I, for one, will be taking a group of students this Friday to Zucotti park to find out what's really going on and to interview protesters for this blog. I look forward to sharing my insights in a few days.