Thursday, October 13, 2011

Warren and Occupy Catch-22

As new as both are to public consciousness, the judgments of Elizabeth and Occupy Wall St. are rampant...and particularly hostile. I've avoided mentioning them because there's already so much in electrons and ink on each.

Though a common factor is that the open hostility is evident even among allegedly left-leaning media, including blogs. The desire to see Warren and OWS failures includes denials of their essences.

Warren.  Up here in the Boston area, her many detractors trip all over their tropes. Temporally alone, their arguments for her unworthiness leave her no winnable option. She's been here too long and simultaneously too short.

As in most provincial locales, the too-short argument starts with, "She's not from here." True enough, Warren's birthplace is Oklahoma. I don't find that in itself damning, perhaps because mine is as well. In her case, she went through high school there before getting degrees in public universities in several states.

Somehow the inference in not-born-here is she can't be one of us, can't understand us or our problems, and is an outsider trying to take a political job that should belong to a born-in-Boston-damn-it local.

At the same time, winger media and blogs are full of elitist slurs. Here, time factors as well, but on the other end of the seesaw of illogic. Because she and her husband have lived in Cambridge and taught at Harvard Law for 17 years, she's been there too long.

While there are those who might dare to say they want a Senator who is provably smart, Somehow, teaching at Harvard is supposed to disqualify Warren...from something unspecified.

Less than a lifetime here is not long enough. More than a few years at Harvard is too long.

OWS/Occupy Boston.  I was going to limit any comments about the Occupy folk to a couple of Left Ahead podcasts. The loonies just won't let it be though.

Go to literally any newspaper or broadcast outlet in the past couple of weeks to get the gist. A very informal and originally inchoate protest action emanating from pissed off far more than corporate apologists and extremists on the right.

Here the Catch-22 is that the nascent, truly grassroots protest was not credible simply because it was not a highly organized, well stratified one with a list of specific demands and goals — think a major political party's platform after the convention process. Again, again and yet again, I'd read or hear the dismissive assertion that a formal structure and clearly agreed to position, OWS was chaotic, impotent and dilettantish.

That crazy talk is toning down considerably now, and not because there is an OWS manifesto held up by an elected leadership. Instead, there's an Occupy Boston and over 100 other similar protests. Suddenly it has become plain that this set of mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-anymore folk are in fact a movement.

This long overdue reaction to the abuses of financial and other large business corporations is not aimless, formless and ephemeral. As it became increasingly clear that the protesters were not all young trust-fund types, rather veterans and seniors joined them, the inane dismissals dwindle. The Catch-22 folk are having to find other spurious claims to denigrate it.

One might think that the Tea Party folk, libertarians and others who assert paternal and interventionist government policies are evil incarnate would grok OWS. One would be wrong. That in part is likely due to NIH, not-invented-here, syndrome.

Likewise, one would suppose that those often self-righteous agitators would actively support OWS free speech and increasingly focused protest points. That should be singularly true in Boston, of the pre-Revolutionary War rabble-rousers like the Adams boys. Instead, our Mayor Tom Menino says he agrees with many of the OWS and Occupy Boston aims, but he still worked with the police to arrest and roust the encampment here with flaccid reasoning about costing the city money, hurting the Greenway plantings, and the mythical bugbears of a century ago, anarchists, plotting in the camps. Cut us a very thin slice of that baloney.

Fresh Noise

If you want real news, you apparently have to wait for the media, including most bloggers, to rouse themselves and begin thinking. The galumphing herd eager to smear Warren and the Occupiers has been terribly influential.

As Warren speaks in those debate-like performances of 60-second answers to clich├ęd and cutesy queries, we are hearing the unheard of — problems identified with solutions advanced. Likewise, as OWS and its dandelion-like spouts from its many seeds flourish, we hear with increasing clarity what is wrong and what will right it.

This has been a shameful period for the news, which became the noise. Let us hope that the press in all its forms emerges chastened a bit. Let us hope the papers, talking heads, and we feeble if vain bloggers are more observant after these stumbles.

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