Home > Uncategorized > Left-Wing Takes to Streets, Media Glorifies Them and They End Up Shaping Policy. We Must Stop Them!

Left-Wing Takes to Streets, Media Glorifies Them and They End Up Shaping Policy. We Must Stop Them!

I wish I could take credit for the brilliance that is the title of my new post, but this time I have to give credit where credit is due. Representative Peter King, everybody!!

I am a bit behind in posting this recent blog, but better late then never.  Yes…we have Rep. King to thank for this statement, which is something being supported by many others on the far, far, far right, ever since #OWS (Occupy Wall Street) took to the streets over a month ago.  Peter King (R) New York, became very vocal towards President Obama and those supporting #OWS last Friday (10/7) during an interview by Ms. Ingraham on The Laura Ingraham Show where he declared the “occupiers” and unions involved, thugs.

He went on to say that:

“the fact is, these people are anarchists. They have no idea what they’re doing out there. They have no sense of purpose other than a basically anti-American tone and anti-capitalist — It’s a ragtag mob, basically.

For an instant there I thought he was describing the Tea Party during their protests against the health care debate two years ago. Nah. What he is doing instead, is showing displeasure towards a massive group of people coming together to declare economic inequality and calling out the top 1%.  This is what democracy looks like, Mr. King.

Of course, he isn’t the only one irritated by the growing masses occupying major cities across the globe.  Rep. Eric Cantor, of Virginia (R) who once described the Tea Party as an “organic movement,” is now quoted saying this about #OWS movement:

The one thing I hate to do is compare the #OWS movement with the Tea Party because unlike the racist and bigoted group, the #OWS have legitimate arguments. There is an increasing divide between the rich and the poor in this country, while a middle class faces extinction.  These are facts.  In describing #OccupyWallStreet as irrational and no respect for law and order is insanely hilarious.  I have yet seen these protesters spit on legislators on Capitol Hill, nor have I seen any one of them show up to the protests carrying loaded guns. I will not condone strays that fall out of line from the overall group, but the bottom line is that we’ve seen nothing but peaceful protests, despite the increase of law enforcement at assemblies across the country never before seen at Tea Party protests in the past.

People have the right to assemble in this country.  They have the right to make demands to their civic leaders and voice their concerns and criticisms.  To make disingenuous statements about wide-spread protests across the country is a failure on our part by not upholding our democracy.

The Future of the #OWS Movement

While many claim there is no clear message from the movement as to what their demands are and that this movement will dwindle, is absurd.  It is pretty clear what the message is and what the overall movement is demanding.  But as #OWS progresses, the message will need to become much clearer because while Representative King would hate to see #OWS shape policy, there is a big chance the movement will be called upon to do just that.

My good friend, Rudy Espinoza has written a strong piece at Poverty Insights, demonstrating his concerns about #OWS as it moves forward.  He states:

“Pitching tents and yelling at corporations will only do so much. (yes, I said it) The emerging agenda of the movement should not only have good policy recommendations that facilitate a healthy economy, but it should also outline pathways to create new systems.  We know what we have doesn’t work, so why are we working on changing the same systems?”

Mr. Espinoza goes on to provide insight on the growing number of local initiatives taking place in neighborhoods all across the country, particularly in my old neighborhood of Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, as well as the incredible opportunity we have now to tap into the awesome talent we have within our Latino community.

This piece came at the perfect time because I had just gotten through listening to NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrooke where he spoke with three individuals mobilizing #OWS groups in NYC, Boston and Los Angeles. The interview itself was fascinating, but right away I was captivated by Peter Kuhns, a community organizer from Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. Now, this infatuation with LA-based organizing really does not have to do with the adoration I have for Los Angeles, my second home, but what I will say is that out of the three on the show, Mr. Kuhns said exactly what has been left out of the discussion about #OWS:

“What we’re seeing now is capitalism out of control – clearly.  There are numerous problems, including the high cost of college education, high numbers of foreclosures, and fair taxation. One big question will be how our political leaders will respond to the demonstrations.”  

Yes, it is about changing a system that is obviously not working, but we also have to be practical and realistic and try to fix the issues that exist  in our current system, while we try to change the system.

People of Color and Where We Fit In

As I watch the massive demonstrations taking place all over the country, I can’t help but think about those being represented.  Day in and day out, we have opponents to the movement declaring that, “the protestors camping out are just rich, white kids complaining about the Capitalism that provided them with the Iphone they’re using to organize the movement.”  While yes, there may be lots of Iphones being used to mobilize the movement, what concerns me the most is the mock up of what those demonstrating, look like. Since the beginning, I have been interested in learning more and more about the movement and how it is being portrayed within mainstream media, because I really didn’t think the Left had it in them.  But during my daily dose of #OWS, one thing that I see missing from my news feeds is a lack of participation by people of color.  You look around at the protests and there are very few Latinos, Asian’s and African American’s participating in the overall demonstrations, a question I raise and leaves me very frustrated.  Yes, I believe that #OWS is something that I should support, BUT I’m just not “feelin’ it.”  The people out there look nothing like me or the people that I serve on a day to day basis, all the while the overall goal of the movement is to help those like me. Fortunately, I am not the only one who feels this disconnect from the overall movement and in recent weeks, groups have heard this cry. Occupy the Hood has recently taken shape in the midst of all of these protests and while they do not want to be a separate entity from the overall #OWS, they do want to vocalize the issues that affect people of color that may or may not be part of the discussion at this time. This is huge! I am encouraged by the evolution shaping the movement, especially early on in the game.

However important the inclusion of greater representation is, I do feel that we need to continue to focus on the importance of why people are demonstrating and not get side tracked by internal challenges like this.  While some state that the #OWS, “is not our movement,” that it’s “not our time” I have an even growing frustration with these leaders in our communities making every excuse to not participate.  If it’s not this movement, then which one and when?  #OWS is moving, its got momentum, it’s seeing success in many parts of the country and the rest of the world, more then what I could have ever imagined.  If union leaders, civic organizations and groups working every day to elevate the voices of people of color do not jump on this now, will there be another opportunity to do so in the future?

As I stated previously, #OWS is being attacked on the far right.  Republican’s are coming out of the wood work, with great disdain towards the mass demonstrations, inflicting numerous media attacks on the protestors, and sensationalizing a worthy cause.  For the last three years I have been utterly disillusioned on our side, by the lack of civic engagement and public outcry towards the rich and the right and I am excited about where #OWS is going to take us in the next year as we move into 2012 elections and beyond. Finally!!  The left is pissed off.  But what I worry about though, are these internal challenges facing a mass movement which could cause a massive collapse if it is defeated by the right and not embraced in its entirety by all of us in the 99%.  The time is now to join the movement.  The time is now to embrace the movement for its core principles and engage our communities to do the same.  If the overall movement can’t translate those core principles and fundamentals to our community, then it must be us to do it for them.

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