Monday, September 17, 2012

Screaming At Giants Doesn't Work

While there may be a thread that ties together all of today's different major events, there isn't necessarily some kind of worldwide conspiracy. There is a pattern though, one of working together - or refusing to.

To start with, today marks the one year anniversary of the Occupy Movement. They began by shutting down parts of Wall Street, and in the process yanked the national discussion away from the unserious discussion of debt and towards the serious and significant awareness of income inequality.

Today, while income inequality is still on the increase, the Occupy movement has effectively faded as a political force, as journalist Joe Nocera noted this weekend. Unlike the Tea Party, Nocera comments, the Occupiers refused to "engage with the larger world" on its terms. The Tea Party may have sold out to wealthy corporatists like the Koch Brothers, but "Two years ago, 87 new Tea Party-elected candidates showed up in Washington. Much as you or I may not like it, they have largely succeeded throwing sand in the wheels of government. That was their goal."

While there are more Occupy protests scheduled in various U.S. cities today, including New York - where the NYPD already appears to have begun using questionable methods to target protest leaders - Nocera's point is still valid. As a political force, Occupy has moved a message, but not the policies behind the message.

In another major event today, while overseas protests galvanized by an offensive anti-Islamic movie made in America appeared to be dying down over the weekend, it now appears Islamic extremists are attempting to fan the flames once again. While the protests were made to appear much bigger than they really were by multiple media outlets desperate for ratings, the fact is there are some extremist elements in places like Libya that insist democratic ideals like free speech are incompatible with their particular faction of religion. For all the bluster and pictures on television, the fact remains that the extremist Christian who created the film, and the extremist Muslims who are protesting in the streets, won't likely have any more significant effect on the policies of major nations than the Occupy movement has had in implementing it's policies in the U.S.

The third major event today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It seems somewhat odd that the holiday most Jews associate with forgiveness is happening just as the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, is attempting to push the United States and other Western powers into attacking Iran - a nation Mr. Netanyahu can't seem to forgive, on any level. While we hope that Mr. Netanyahu is wise enough not to start World War III, we think it's likely that his bluster is much like that of the other groups we've mentioned today: anger and invective without any thoughtful, serious, long-term effort to make things better.

In all three cases, the groups raising the alarms are not getting what they want, when they want it. The chances for them to make things better only get smaller over time because the antagonists aren't actually working within the systems. From the Occupiers, to the angry religious extremists, to the Prime Minister of Israel, they've all simply yelling at a giant who refuses to hear them.

The solution to each issue isn't an extremist refusal to negotiate. The solution is to work within the system, accept a just and fair compromise, and enforce it firmly. Speaking softly and carrying a big stick really can wake up those who might otherwise ignore you.

No comments:

Post a Comment