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I’ve been trying to respond to each of The Oklahoman editorials, published on NewsOK.com, that criticize that Occupy Wall Street movement to highlight the sheer inanity and cluelessness of perhaps the most conservative newspaper in the country.
The newspaper, which is now owned by Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz, doesn’t “get” the Occupy movement, and it has undoubtedly spent thousands of words proving it. But what the newspaper lacks in basic cultural understanding it makes up for in ad hominem, demeaning attacks on people who basically want a decent economic future for themselves.
The newspaper’s lastest inane offering (“Occupy protests to the contrary, bigger isn’t always badder,” Jan. 17, 2012) essentially argues that monopoly companies such as Walmart are good for the country, and it’s only a “naive and sometimes stupid strain of populism,” i.e. the Occupy Movement, that would dare criticize them.
Here’s the telling paragraph in the commentary:
A local gadfly, speaking at an Occupy OKC rally late last year, evoked this idiocy in urging his audience to shop only at small, locally owned businesses “and stay out of big box stores that feed the 1 percent and wreck local economies.”
Note the words “gadfly” and “idiocy” and the previously cited “stupid strain of populism,” which shows the editorial must rely on name-calling and demeaning language in an effort to make a point, which is obviously strained. In the end, the editorial’s argument is archaic in its simplicity: Walmart good, protesters bad. The words in italic are a mimic of the editorial’s ending, which goes “Two stores good, 400 better.”
The criticism of Walmart has a long history, and I won’t spend much time rehashing the complaints, which center around the monopoly’s impact on communities around the country. The basic narrative, given by the company’s detractors, is that Walmart pushes out independent businesses in communities and pays extremely low wages. A good source of information for this type of criticism, which has cultural validity and is remarkable for its contemporary importance, is Walmart Watch. Here’s an example of the arguments presented on the site:
From small businesses to major chains, all grocery and retail establishments that compete with Walmart are impacted by the company. Competitors are often forced to lower wages and standards. By using a model based on low-wages, high-efficiency transportation, and imported goods, Walmart has a history of destroying once thriving downtowns across rural America.
That the local editorial didn’t refer significantly to the huge, historical body of Walmart criticism is fairly typical because the fallacy of omission is one of the newspaper’s best weapons in protecting the wealthiest 1 percent from any critique. But, once again, the newspaper misses the most salient point of the Occupy Movement, which is 99 percent of the country is essentially enslaved politically and economically by the top 1 percent. That’s an argument that’s been made here and across the country, and not just among Occupy protesters. The great wealth disparity in this country threatens democracy, and, paradoxically, capitalism itself.
So, given what the movement is really about, here’s some information unlikely to be found on The Oklahoman editorial page when it criticizes the “idiocy” of the “naïve” protesters and their “stupid strain of populism.” According to Wikipedia, the three children of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, using 2011 numbers, are worth the following: Alice Walton, $20.9 billion, S. Robson Walton, $21 billion and Jim Walton, $21.3 billion.
As of 2010, Anschutz, the new owner of The Oklahoman, is worth $7 billion, according to the site.