To paraphrase one of Bob Dylan's songs of youthful protest, "Something's happening here, and you don't know what it is, do you Ms. Bellafante?"
A New York Times writer, Ginia Bellafante, is but one of many establishment reporters and pundits who've been covering the fledgling "Occupy Wall Street " movement — but completely missing the story. Instead of really digging into what's "happening here," they've resorted to fuddy-duddy mockery of an important populist protest that has sprouted right in Wall Street's own neighborhood.
In a September article, Bellafante dismissed the young people's effort as "fractured and airy," calling it a "carnival" in an "intellectual vacuum." Their cause is so "diffuse and leaderless," she wrote, that its purpose is "virtually impossible to decipher." No wonder, she concluded, that participation in the movement is "dwindling."
Whew — so snide! Yet, so wrong.
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While the establishment is befuddled by the plethora of issues and slogans within the protest, confused by the absence of hierarchical order and put off by its festive spirit, that's their problem. The 20- and 30-somethings who are driving this movement know what they're doing and are far more organized (but much differently organized) than their snarky critics seem able to comprehend.
It's silly to say that the protestors' purpose is indecipherable. Hello — they're encamped next door to Wall Street. Isn't that a clue? Their cause is the same as the one boiling in the guts of America's workaday majority: Stop the gross greed of financial and corporate elites, and expel a political class that's so corrupted by the money of those wealthy elites that it has turned its back on the middle class and the poor.
Such movements don't begin with a neat set of solutions pre-packaged for The New York Times, but with roiling outrage focused directly on the plutocratic perpetrators of an unjust economy and an unresponsive politics. The movement will find agreement in due time on specific ideas for stopping the injustice, but now is the time for the passion and creative, nonviolent confrontation that will energize others to stop moaning and join the rebellion.