One reason I’ve been writing up some of my experiences here is that so much of what people who have never visited the park think is True is… well… Not.
And I am sick of people saying Blah Blah Blah is true, ISN’T IT? In this “gotcha” voice they learned from watching reruns of Perry Mason.
I grant you there are shades of grey, but that’s normal life.
Most true-but-unpleasant things that people grab onto can be answered with “The 99% contains douche bags, too.” They/we have never claimed they/we are perfect or even better-than-you—-how could that be possible, when they/we are actively lumping them/ourselves in with Everyone who makes less than $400,000/year? They/we are just trying something different, which they/we hope might serve their/our needs better than the current corrupt systems.
But there are some inaccurate stories that are sticking, so I’m going to make this post about refuting these… misinterpretations of the truth… I expect I will get to add to it on a regular basis, since the stories that the mainstream media tell tend to be so much more thrilling than what’s actually happening/happened.
I do not expect to do it with as much wit and sagacity as the Snopes people, but consider them my inspiration:
The Occupiers hate Jews
OccupyJudaism is an active tweeter on Twitter, with over 1600 followers.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unk6jjgzTS8 (Shabbat services held at Occupy Wall Street, the 14th night of the occupation)
Personally, I have seen a pop-up sukhah at Wall Street—it was one of the first tents that went up after the medical tent was rescued by Jesse Jackson (did you see that story? He linked arms with the protestors who had put their bodies between it and the police. Awesomeness: http://animalnewyork.com/2011/10/jesse-jackson-occupies-medical-tent-saves-it-from-being-evicted-by-nypd/)
The Roots of this story probably lie in some of the crazy guys with crazy posters who wander the periphery of the park. If you are familiar with NYC, you know that we have more than our fair share of crazy. The other side of the story is—and more than one occupier told me this story, which isn’t corroboration but it’s good enough for me for now—that the most egregious guy actually got chased out of the park by one of the scrappier protestors.
I am declaring this universal statement False.
The Occupiers hate The Tea Party
In an essay on the early organizers of the occupation, the author mentioned one vocal person who blocked every attempt to reach out to unions because they were afraid that would scare off Tea Partiers, who she saw as a natural ally.
The Roots of this probably lie in the stereotypes: since The Official Image of the Tea Partier was an old white guy with a gun who hated Obama, and the Official Image of the Occupation is a twenty-something dreadlocked person who eschews violence and loves everybody, yeah—there’s going to be tension there. (See my post called “Tension” on what I think about that.)
My interpretation is that we’ve got some natural suspicion of each other, but—as the article above points out—there are several major issues that we all agree are problems.
Here, look at the pretty picture:
The Occupiers hate the homeless
Ok, so I need some help with this one. First the media sniffs that the Occupiers are a bunch of drug-addicted homeless people who are too dirty to get a job.
Then they scream that the Occupiers are marginalizing and ignoring the drug-addicted and homeless people who are too dirty to get a job.
I can’t refute it until we work out which argument we’re arguing.
Second, let me remind my gentle reader that, strictly numerically speaking, the 99% includes everyone who makes less than approximately $400,000 a year. So, it includes homeless people, drug addicts, and me. Oh, and douche bags. Mustn’t forget the douche bags! They get everywhere…
Third, I was there one night when protestors were starting to complain that there was a large ex-convict population suddenly and they thought the cops were encouraging them to come here to Liberty Park. A tall, bright-eyed woman said, “Great, let’s go meet the buses from Riker’s Island! When they get off the bus, let’s sit them down and teach them what we’re about!” She seemed to be positively gleeful at the idea of messing with the expected order of things.
I think the roots of this lie in a deeply misconstrued attempt by the kitchen to slow down one long weekend so that they could re-organize. Before the protest started, the Occupied Kitchen bought lots of peanut butter and jelly and bread. That’s what they expected to live on, along with some judicious dumpster diving.
They didn’t expect me (Ha!) and all the other people around the world who would be showering them with home-cooked food and Occu-pies from Liberattos’ pizza parlor. (Where he had to hire two more cooks to cover all the orders) They weren’t set up for that.
So, several weeks into the occupation they—with enough warning that folks who needed more/other than peanut butter and jelly could try and find other sources of food—slowed down. Regrouped. And then, bang on schedule, went right back to being the biggest soup kitchen in the area serving up hot vegetarian and vegan food to the masses.
Show me the hate, there.
The Occupiers hate cops! They don’t include cops in the 99%!
http://i.imgur.com/K1sTv.jpg (Captain Ray Lewis, formerly of the Philadelphia police)
OccupyPolice has over 4700 followers on twitter.
Well, cops certainly seem to include themselves with the occupiers.
Not all of them… but hey, there are douche bags everywhere.
Here, for instance… http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2011/nov/18/occupy-oakland-veteran-beaten-police-video
My personal experience: I was nervously unpacking the back of the taxi in front of a parked police car. It was the Friday before the unseasonal snow was forecast, and so I had gone to Costco and bought hats and gloves and wool socks and Hot Pockets in bulk.
We were a little frantic—my driver was very unhappy with the heavy police presence—and the cop leans out of his car and says, “Don’t panic. It’s ok. You need to keep those guys warm!”
And, in all the marches I’ve been a part of, whenever we chant “We are the 99%!” several of us start adding, “And so are you!” as we point to tourists, office workers, and cops.
“We’re here for your pensions!” is also a common phrase.
That’s all I’ve got at the moment. In general, ”Remember the douche bags!” and keep yourself occupied in making the world around you a better, more loving place.
I love you.
Edited to add:
...this is useful, too...
...and this one!... clearly lots of us had similar brainstorms at the same time. :*)
Edited to add:
So, there's also a meme about the protestors being just a bunch of white guys, and there's "If you aren't a bunch of racists, why do you need a People of Color Caucus?" leading question. My current answer is: hello, racist culture that we are currently living in And Trying To Change.
I mean, it's good that we've got a PoC caucus and a Women's Caucus and so very many working groups whose sole purpose is to make the movement-- and hopefully the world we're moving towards-- a safer space.The problems that some people have the privilege not to notice are being noticed and attempts are being made to solve them.
As a white girl, I don't feel I have the credentials to comment much more than that, but I really like this post about some of it.