May Day has come and gone, and apparently so has the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Trend-watchers will recall that the anti-capitalist movement was all the rage last summer. “Occupy” protests popped up in cities across the country, politicians such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama praised the youthful protesters, adoring media lavished attention on the cause, and celebrities showed up to be photographed at the latest cutting-edge event. The protesters were a pretty cocky bunch back then, with members of the local affiliate assuring us it would be a short time before the “occupiers” had transformed America into some unspecified sort of utopia.
America is not there yet, so far as we can tell, and instead the Occupy movement has been transformed into last summer’s fad. The decline began when some of protests turned violent, the encampments in public spaces turned into eyesores filled with crime, disease, and petty annoyances to the neighborhoods, and the press began reluctantly reporting the problems and the politicians suddenly stopped being so outspokenly supportive. Then the winter came, and even though it was a mild one in most of the country it was sufficiently cold to make the occupiers began occupying homes heated by evil gas and electric companies.
What was left of the movement vowed it would be back in full force when spring arrived, and announced May Day as the official re-launch. The date was chosen not just because it unofficially marks the beginning of spring in much of the country, but because it’s the official commie holiday, a point that might be lost on some of the younger participants but was no doubt in forefront of the organizers’ minds.
Sure enough, the occupiers were back on schedule. Not as many as before, though, and if you measure the effectiveness of a protest by column inches or broadcast time it was a flop. They managed to get a few heckles in at a Mitt Romney appearance in New York City, which isn’t noteworthy, and they smashed some windows in Seattle, which is also getting to be too routine for media attention, but except for the sporadic tear-gassings and a few arrests it generated little attention. By any measure, they fell short of their goal of global disruption of the status quo.
The most widely reported story out of the May Day events was probably the arrest of five men associated with Occupy Cleveland for allegedly plotting to blow up a bridge in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The folks at the Cable News Network noted that the police described the men as “self-described anarchists” and mused whether they could truly be associated with a Occupy movement that seems to crave an ever bigger and more powerful government. We suggest that the folks at CNN have a chat with a few self-described anarchists, who these days retain the violent nihilism of their intellectual forebears but have long since embraced the authoritarian government that anarchism once opposed, or that they simply take another look at the pictures of the suspects and draw their own conclusions.
There’s a always a chance that the movement might become fashionable again, and we’re almost hoping so. The Occupy Wall Street folks have provided plenty of hilarity in their brief time on the public stage, and teach such a clear object lesson about the illogical conclusions of modern liberalism. A nice rowdy riot at one or both of the major party political conventions would also be welcome, as it would give the Republicans a chance to remind voters that the Democrats had once encouraged the movement.
We know at least one local Occupier who’s also hoping to re-create the glorious riots of Chicago in ‘68, and he proudly told us that legendary melee turned the tide of public opinion. As we remember it, those clashes with Mayor Daley’s cops turned the public to Nixon’s law-and-order platform, but we didn’t dare tell him.
– Bud Norman