Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Tale of Two Protests

It’s almost a tale of two cities. Or better, a tale of two protests.

This morning the New York Times and the New York Post both have long articles on Occupy Wall Street. The Times offers a sensible, serious discussion of the protest movement, noting that while bad things have happened and while some of those who live in the neighborhood are unhappy about it all, still, the young idealistic revolutionaries have struck a blow against the system.

The Times piece reads like it was written on West 41st St., miles from the protest. It feels distant and politically sensible. The Times is not going to get down in the dirt because its readers prefer to remain in loftier regions where the air is clean and their ideals can remain unmolested by reality. The notion that gauzy liberal and leftist visions, when implemented, produce what OWS has become would offend the sensibilities of Times readers.

Unfortunately, the article's thoughtful tone also makes it sound completely detached from reality.

As always, the Times is promoting its own political agenda. It is happy to use OWS to that purpose, and it will not allow the growing anarchy on Wall Street to compromise Democratic re-election chances.

More enterprising than the Times, the New York Post sent a young woman journalist down to spend the night among the assembled rabble of Occupy Wall Street.

For having had a direct experience of life at OWS, Post reporter Candice Giove offers us a picture that is wildly at variance with the Times version.

Giove put herself at risk to chronicle a protest movement that has long since ceased to be a protest. It has descended into anarchy.

Predictably, the Times whitewashes the number of incidents of sexual assault and rape, but the occupiers themselves have felt compelled to set up a special “safety” tent where women can sleep protected from the predators who have found OWS to be a happy hunting ground. Giove adds that she heard of two men who were also rape victims.

You know, I know, and we all know that if Tea Party rallies had seen sexual assaults, larceny, violence, and virulent expressions of anti-Semitism, the Times would have been running it over and over again, day after day, on page 1, above the fold. All the news that fits their thinking.

Giove describes the scene: “The parcel is now a sliver of madness, rife with sex attacks, robberies and vigilante justice.

“It’s a leaderless bazaar that’s been divided into state-like camps -- with tents packed together so densely that the only way to add more would be to stack them.

“And despite an NYPD watchtower overhead and the entire north side of Zuccotti lined with police vehicles, it is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous places in New York City.”

As happens with most utopian visions, once they are put into practice it is only a matter of time before they devolve into dystopias.

In Giove’s words: “This spirit of generosity and the naivete of the original OWS protesters is devolving into a state of distrust and paranoia, however.

“They speak of theft, about government infiltrators and tales of Rikers Island castoffs being dropped off to roam and ravage the site.

“From underneath my blanket, I hear allegations of financial corruption and intimidation over sexual orientation.”

Woodstock it’s not. Then again, Woodstock was not really Woodstock either.


SlartiBartfast said...

I recently spoke to a police officer who has been stationed at the park and he told me that Zuccotti Park has become an absolute zoo. It is filthy, people will literal drop their pants and defecate anywhere. There have been numerous rapes that go uninvestigated. The crowd is made up of a large percentage of older people, not the young wide-eyed naifs I thought. He also told of many instances where homeless people have been refused food and blankets by the OWSers. I guess within the confines of the park they have their own 1%

Ms Anthrope said...

"Woodstock its not." Perhaps because Woodstock ended after three days. Look at what happened in Altamont, California, when music promoters tried to re-create Woodstock there.

While I encourage people to be involved in their community and government I am having a hard time believing their presence is really about creating change.