Occupy Wall Street: A Wake-Up Call
Since demonstrators began gathering in the Financial District on September 17, their credibility has been called into question. As the days have passed and their numbers have grown, both supporters and critics have raised their voices.
Most recently, the The New York Post and the Daily News have published editorials mocking the protesters and scoffing at their efforts. The title of the Daily News’ editorial says it all: “Occupy Wall Street protesters are acting like a bunch of spoiled brats.”
The Post was equally disapproving in their commentary on what Occupy Wall Street is calling America’s Arab Spring.
“God created pepper spray to remind overeducated, undermotivated yuppie larvae that when a cop says ‘move on,’ it’s usually best to move on,” they wrote on September 27.
Despite the harsh rhetoric, both tabloids raise valid points. At first glance, the movement appears to be an unorganized swath of disgruntled, unemployed crybabies. No clear demands have been set, and interviews by multiple news sources have shown that a number of the protesters are unsure of what, exactly, the protest is about .
But in their critiques of the demonstrations, both The Post and the Daily News make a detrimental mistake: they take the movement at face value.
Protesters clad in ragged t-shirts paired with dreadlocks and multiple piercings may be the dominant image circulating through the media, but no one seems to evaluate their underlying motivations. The occupation is not merely an opportunity for people to rant about the general injustices of the world. Those who are down in Zuccotti Park, and who have been down there for days, have something very real to say — the state of America’s broken economy and corporation-infested government needs to change.
Our generation came of age in a time of unprecedented economic troubles. Our nation has accrued a $14 trillion debt, secondary education is more expensive than ever before, and corporations receive staggering tax breaks. Over the past decade, we’ve watched as our government wages war on two different fronts and bails out irresponsible banks. Now, it is our generation’s responsibility to fix this. These are the cards we’ve been dealt.
Camping out in a city park won’t necessarily fix all of these problems. But the Wall Street occupation, at the very least, embodies the sentiments that our generation has been experiencing for years.
Our post-9/11 world is a place where protests are no longer seen as effective or taken seriously. While demonstrations do take place, they’re often seen as one-day things, rather than real opportunities for change. During the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War, protests were an important indicator of public opinion. Now, the meaning is drained — we hold protests, but rarely do we expect anything to come out of them.
Maybe Occupy Wall Street has provided more than just a soapbox for disillusioned students. Maybe its an opportunity for our generation to wake up from its hibernated state and finally voice its opinion. Even if the demonstrators aren’t the most eloquent or organized group, at least their actions are spurring a public debate. At least they’ve reminded us all that we can make a difference and we do have voice.