The Magazine

Lords of Finance vs. Lord of the Flies

Nov 28, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 11 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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If you’re not already sitting down, you may want to steady yourself before reading further. Recent polls show that the Occupy Wall Street movement is unpopular with voters! Not only that, it appears—gasp—that the Tea Party is actually more popular than Occupy Wall Street. 

Lords of Finance vs. Lord of the Flies

Liberal bloggers think they have figured out why. Blogger Digby, a perennial source of quotes for the New York Times’s Paul Krugman, is outraged by the media’s portrayal of the movement, especially that of the New York Post and other outlets said to toe the conservative line: “It’s always gratifying to see the press defend the right of the authorities to restrict the First Amendment. The right wing has been pushing this theme of the occupy people being anti-social sub-humans defecating on the sidewalks from the beginning.”

We seem to recall that there’s another newspaper aside from the Post in New York, and it’s considered a bit more influential. Just last week, the New York Times ran an article by famous Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs proclaiming Occupy Wall Street as the birth of a new progressive movement.

However, if the public is more inclined to see Occupy Wall Street as a bunch of antisocial people defecating on sidewalks than effective champions of the downtrodden and oppressed, that’s not because they’re being misinformed. It might be because the occupiers are actually defecating in public (video findable by Google, if you have a strong stomach and a masochistic streak). Despite what the occupiers would have you believe, there are precious few issues on which you will find “99 percent” aligned in agreement, but condemnation of dropping trou in public remains one of them.

Now imagine how the public feels about the accompanying murder, riots, arson, suicide, overdoses, lice and tuberculosis outbreaks, and, perhaps most damning, the shockingly high incidence of sexual assault. The dreaded New York Post reported last week that one woman at Occupy Wall Street was the victim of two separate incidents of sexual assault over the last two months. Who knew protests that proudly advertise rape-free zones and encourage victims of sexual assault not to go to the police would prove so uncongenial to the wider public? When it comes to rape, again, we find 99 percent of America is down twinkles. 

Then came word last week that a disturbed man who fired bullets into the White House may have been hiding out at the Occupy D.C. encampment. While it’s unfair to say that one mentally ill man with an itchy trigger finger is the personification of the Occupy Wall Street movement, dare we suggest it was not a stroke of public relations genius for Occupy San Diego to hold a moment of silence on behalf of the deranged would-be assassin after his arrest? 

Finally, we would note that the police crackdowns on various Occupy movement encampments last week were not exactly at the behest of right-wing Übermenschen. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Portland mayor Sam Adams, and Oakland mayor Jean Quan are among the most liberal elected officials in the country—and even they had finally had enough of being occupied and belatedly called on police to clear out their respective city parks.

The lesson here is not that Americans are easily misled by a yellow press into dismissing populist uprisings so the Lords of Finance can continue purchasing solid gold sock garters. The moral of the story is much simpler than that: If you don’t want people to think you’re a bunch of antisocial subhumans, do something about the criminals in your midst and learn to occupy a toilet stall.

Occupy Tehran

As the NYPD moved to dismantle the Zuccotti Park tent city last week, a few tears may have been shed in the Islamic Republic of Iran. After all, if some of Occupy Wall Street’s organizers and cheerleaders see the two-month-long protest movement/street theater as the testing ground for new political and cultural forms, the Iranians have dared to dream even bigger: Officials in Tehran believe the Occupy movement portends the demise of the Great Satan.

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