With Congress into its second or third year of dysfunction, with mainstream media, elected officials and their police enforcers working overtime to discredit the 99 percent movement, there isn’t much to be thankful for in our world at large – except one extraordinary thing:
Let us praise the outstanding contribution of the Occupy protesters. Arrests, beatings, pepper spray, arrogant “let them eat cake” mayors and all, in two months they have changed the national debate, turned it on its head.
Before OWS, the public conversation was about deficits and “shared sacrifice” in which the poor and middle class pay and the rich (“job creators” dontcha know) reap the rewards.
OWS changed that. Now we are talking about mounting inequality, stagnant unemployment, hungry people and the declining middle class.
Two weeks into OWS, the media asked how long it would/could last. They predicted cold winter weather would end it. City officials across the land did their part to fulfill that prophecy by confiscating tents, personal belongings and shutting down encampments – sometimes violently.
And still, OWS continues. Still, the conversation continues to be about social inequality and justice. Glory be, how long has it been since those two words have been uttered seriously in the public square?
That is an astonishing achievement for a bunch of “dirty hippies” who, according to the most Marie Antoinette of them all this week, Newt Gingrich, should take a shower and get one of those non-existent jobs.
But he is wrong to scorn them. Wrong about what and who they are. And on the wrong side of history too. The OWS protesters, mostly young folks, are going to change everything. Oh, not completely (you can never sink the oligarchs, but you can control them a bit until next time) and certainly not quickly.
Or so I predict. What the powers that be gathering their forces against the demonstrators don’t understand is that it has passed a tipping point now. Every photograph of baton-wielding riot police, every injured war veteran demonstrator, every pepper-spray viral video makes every posturing politician denouncing the movement look more ridiculous.
And each one of those instances gains the Occupy movement a few more supporters.
Cold weather and more state-sponsored violence may change the demonstrations, but I don’t believe they will stop. These “kids” have proved their resilience and creativity in face of all attempts to silence them.
So as we sit down to our holiday dinners tomorrow, let us be certain to include in our gratitude lists the OWS protesters. Each one of us and the country at large will all benefit from their work.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Shopping