(My friend Patrick over at The Lost Ogle has a post up showing how a spokesperson for Occupy OKC was recently charged with domestic assault and battery. I agree with TLO’s position that the local crew should vet its leaders more carefully, but, as I’ve written, this is a protest in progress.)
If they want to know what they’re up against locally, the Occupy OKC protesters need to look no further than a recent scathing editorial in The Oklahoman that labeled them “idiots.”
Of course, you can also read the editorial as a collective expression of deep fear among the local, corporate oligarchy, and in that sense it serves as a form of flattery, showing the protests are working on some level. The rhetorical attack, coming from one of the most conservative newspapers in the country, indicates the entire “Occupy” movement has the richest 1 percent of people throughout the world unnerved.
In a Wednesday editorial (“Occupy Wall Street movement: Raging against what exactly?,” Oct. 12, 2011), The Oklahoman plays on the term “useful idiots” in describing the protesters here and across the nation and then makes these mocking, outlandish claims:
Today on the streets of New York, and elsewhere, useful idiots are marching (actually sitting around, mostly) in a rage against the machine of commerce. The professional left is manipulating these disgruntled and/or idle protesters, who fancy themselves as an American version of the Arab Spring. This ignores the fact that no tanks have their well-fed bellies in the crosshairs.
Here are a couple of points to make: (1) The idea that the “professional left” (whatever that encompasses in the mind of an editorial writer at The Oklahoman) is behind the movement is ludicrous. Left-leaning politicians and labor unions didn’t even begin supporting the movement until days after it began. (2) How in the world does The Oklahoman know the protesters have “well-fed bellies?” Are its writers checking out the food supply at Kerr Park in downtown Oklahoma City or at Zuccotti Park in New York? It’s highly doubtful the protesters are dining at five-star restaurants in between marches.
The editorial also makes the point that Kerr Park was “paid for by and named after a company that exemplifies . . . free-market capitalism,” which only makes the case for the protesters, none of whom most likely have the resources to build a downtown park with fountains to enhance their images. Kerr McGee, an energy company, was sold in 2006 to a Houston company and is no longer part of the city’s business community, a reminder of the transitory nature of the energy business. When the oil and gas dries up here in Oklahoma down the road, don’t expect the big corporations to stick around and build a bunch of parks.
News 9 anchor Kelly Ogle also mocked the Occupy OKC protesters Wednesday in a My 2 Cents piece, saying he “chuckled” when he heard about the protest and called it “class envy.”
Compare The Oklahoman editorial and Ogle’s piece to this insightful commentary by Thomas L. Friedman at the New York Times. Friedman sees the protests here and across the world as something that needs defining, and cites authors who argue that world is facing a great deal of change that has been described as “The Great Disruption” and “The Big Shift.” He views the protests in a larger context and doesn’t mock anyone.
But out here on the prairie, this is what passes for intellectual thought in The Oklahoman:
The 2011 presidential candidate most identified with the movement could pay a price. The useful among us, as distinguished from the useful idiots, still put a premium on law, order and working for a living rather than singin’ songs and carryin’ signs.
As I’ve written before, the “Occupy” movement may or may not last in its current form, but it’s difficult to not to see it in the larger context of widespread discontent among many Americans, who know they’re not getting a fair deal when it comes to employment and opportunity. It’s shameful to mock these people.