Occupy Wall Street was a pig pen of unorganized chatter and protesting that resulted in violence, photo ops, and good joke material for Bill Maher. I am glad that some Americans decided to wake up and smell the unemployment and the injustice, but all it really did was emphasize the obvious scale of the problem we are facing in this country: the 99% versus the 1%.
For a brief moment OWS was something respectable. We were like the Egyptians, Tunisians, Bahrainis, Syrians, and Yemenis who decided to use the streets to mobilize their campaign for justice. Okay, so what do bongos and lectures about the good ol’ days of orgies have to do with the economy?
That is what I encountered down at Zuccotti Park: a woman who was preaching about the benefits of orgies. I saw some strung out teenagers attempting to sing a protest song (Pete Seeger would be ashamed of you). I saw people taking photos of the giant spectacle that overtook New York City. Where was the organization? Who was the leader?
The Egyptian protests were not covered just for their violence, they were aired on television stations throughout the world because they ended a thirty-year, authoritarian regime. I remember television stations weighing in on the united efforts of Christians and Muslims in putting an end to Mubarak’s presidency.
Tahrir Square was full of individuals who mobilized the youth, whether in university campuses, community centers, or in the streets of Cairo. Wael Ghonim is one of those Egyptians who brought together people under a common cause and directed them in an organized fashion to achieve an objective: end the reign of Hosni Mubarak. Occupy Wall Street did not have a Wael Ghonim.
In regards to President Obama’s reflection on Occupy Wall Street, such recognition did take place. “I think that it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel,” stated President Obama in early October during a press conference. “The protestors are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works,” Obama concluded.
And that is certainly what OWS has managed to do: they have repeatedly grunted their angst about the failure of the American financial system. I am not quite sure how the President could provide more detailed commentary or constructive criticism about the Occupy Wall Street movement when such a large majority of the American public have shared the same overwhelming view: stop peeing on the streets, stop playing your bongos, we get the clue, go back to work, and if you really want to change something, organize the cause.
Violence or no violence, the cause was forgotten. It fizzled out when everyone realized that they were reliving some nostalgic, hippie daydream. Don’t blame it on Obama, don’t compare this to the Arab Spring, and don’t try to give OWS more air-time. Their fifteen minutes of fame are up. Let’s leave the stage for the next act.
-Mehgan Abdelmassih, Editor & Blog Writer