It took a trip to Denmark for me to understand Occupy Wall Street. I was at the GOTO conference in Århus, talking to another attendee from the States about the protests, which were still quite new. I expressed the common concern that the protestors hadn’t defined a win condition. What was their deliverable? What did they hope to gain?
His answer resonated with something I believe Dr. King said about the purpose of passive resistance. It is a kind of meditation, a non-action that could only irritate someone who hates you, intended to bring that hatred to the light of day, to show the world as their hatred washes over you in waves.
The government, he assured me, will demonstrate the contempt it has for its citizens. How eerie that promise seems in hindsight, yet how empowering. It is with memories of batons and pepper spray fresh in our minds that we proffer the next empty protest, a vessel to be filled with hatred.
And fill it they have, as Wikipedia and other sites go dark today to protest the Anti-Internet bills before Congress. Everyone’s favorite new Twitter feature, Dick Costolo, jumped in early to further demonstrate his inability to communicate by calling the idea “foolish.”
Senator-cum-MPAA CEO Chris Dodd stepped up with some nice inflammatory rhetoric, accusing protestors of trying to “punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns” with a protest that “is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals.”
How my heart bleeds for the hardworking men and women of power! When the people who actually do things for a living refuse to do those things because they don’t like the way you treat them, that’s communism isn’t it? If the world’s current and former communist countries are any example, I think we can say that’s the opposite of communism, which is what America is meant to be all about.
I finally got around to watching Ben Kingsley’s epic Ghandhi biopic on a flight back to the Netherlands from Australia, and I reflected on the common misconception that I’ve abandoned the United States, or am some kind of “anti-American socialist.” The truth is, it’s hard to see something when you’re standing on it.