« November 2011 »

Memo to Michael Bloomberg: YOU SUCK.

Well, the crackdown I hoped I wasn't predicting at the end of October has happened, and a couple of days later, it's looking like New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has struck a considerable blow against Occupy Wall Street.

And, as I suspected, he took important lessons from the failed Oakland crackdown. First, he made damn sure there wasn't any real footage of the crackdown. Oh, there were reports of tear gas and bulldozers, some pictures of belligerent cops, but nothing like the video that turned the public against Oakland. Bloomberg did this by using the police to keep all media away from Zuccotti Park, going so far as to interdict the airspace above the park so that news helicopters couldn't watch.

So, really, it was a press and assembly two-fer. All he had to do was lead a public prayer to Jesus after clearing out the camp and he'd have picked up the First Amendment spare.

But he did one other thing. He waited. He waited a few more weeks for the propaganda machine to finish doing its job. Remember how I said the media coverage of the Oakland incident would be what really decided the fate of Occupy Wall Street? Well, the coverage was mixed. So Bloomberg waited, almost an entire month, to let people like Rep. Peter King to do the work necessary to make Bloomberg's power play palpable to the peons. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"First of all, you try to listen to them and they make almost no sense," King said. "These are people who were living in dirt, these were people who were involved with drugs, there was violence, there was rape. You're talking about a small number of people -- you could probably get more people in a Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Sunday than you've got in Zuccotti Park." - King, to Bloomberg (yes, same Bloomberg) Television.

That's how they operate. They spread these stories around. Dirty. Druggies. Rapists. Violence. Things nobody likes. Associate the protesters with these ideas, regardless of truth or proportionality, and nobody complains too loudly when you take their tents, throw out their books, and tear gas them. They weren't quite there when Oakland made its move, but three weeks later, it seems to have worked.

Cynical? Yes. Wrong? No. They're already trying to pin the White House shooter to the Occupy DC movement. And Jean Quan, mayor of Oakland, shitty Democrat, and author of last month's dry run, admitted on the radio that there was a recent conference call between 18 mayors - including Oakland and New York - discussing how to deal with the protests. Which isn't automatically sinister per se, but when you consider the crackdowns started shortly thereafter, and seem to have avoided the minor firestorm Oakland's first crackdown caused... well, my batting average for assuming the worst is well over .900 at this point.

So what now? Well, I'm going to violate my charter for a second, because there's actually something I can do, and you can do, and all of us on our side of the political spectrum can do, to support the Occupy movement. And that's to stop making fun of drum circles.

I KNOW. They're funny. And their weird idealist voting system is funny, and a lot of it is the kind of hippie bullshit you get when you mix idealists and copious free time. But you're not out there. I'm not out there. I'm too old and too comfortable and too gainfully employed to occupy a damn thing, even if the Minnesota contingent were particularly vital and even if they weren't, for reasons largely of convenience, occupying the lawn of one of the buildings I work at. Also? WINTER.

The point is, I don't give a shit if some of them have dreadlocks and read battered copies of Chomsky and fulfill every negative stereotype you can think of when you think of protest marches. They're out there for us. They're out there in our stead. Even the freaks, which is all the news is going to focus on anyway. The least we can do is not add to the general public's xenophobia by laughing amongst ourselves at what freaks they are.

Plus, during the Tea Party protests, did you ever see anyone on Fox saying "I agree with their core message, but man, I wish they'd stop wearing tricorner hats and misspelling their signs"? No, you did not. Let's try to be at least as smart as Fox News, shall we?