November 01, 2011
Squatting. It’s so…European. Like the bidet, squatting as political theater never caught on in America.
Lengthy “vigils” and “tent cities”—such as the Ottawa Peace Camp on Parliament Hill (1983-85) inspired by Greenham Common—tend to be a foreign phenomenon, too.
I’m guessing Americans aren’t as accustomed to everyday austerity as their Euro counterparts. (Being obliged to shove coins into a meter to watch TV might have sparked a second revolution in the land of monster truck races and mega malls.)
That’s the novelty of “Occupy Wall Street” and its offshoots: Protests in the United States don’t normally turn into communal sleepovers. From Haymarket to today, American demonstrations generally last a few hours—the outermost acceptable length of a Hollywood movie.
I wasted enough time in the Reagan/Mulroney’era “No Nukes” movement to accurately predict who’d initially populate my local “Occupy” thingie in Toronto’s St. James Park: dreadlocked Caucasian vegans and neo-punk anarchists, all under 30 and all middle class at minimum. In other words, the same conformist non-conformists who showed up at “Occupy [Your City Here].” All very “Stuff White People Like.”
The other constant was, well, change. Drawn by the free food and smell of cannabis, that demographic shifted a little each day, here and elsewhere. The mix started out as 90% activists/10% street people, the uninstitutionalized mentally ill, and the like—a ratio that is now upside down, and not just here, but at Occupy Oakland and elsewhere.
In my time, homeless guys shuffled along the edges of our marches, bumming smokes and letting out a toothless shout about “the mayor, that bastard,” then went on their way. In 2011, demonstrators made the mistake of standing still. Having welcomed gypsies, tramps, and thieves into their midst, then coming to regret it—real winos aren’t the dignified tramps of The Fisher King—those original “Occupy” activists quietly decamped rather than raise the alarm.
Eventually, not even progressive institutions such as Mother Jones and the Daily Kos could ignore the steady reports of rapes, robberies, and racial “hate crimes” occurring at “Occupations,” although the Daily Kos posted their litany in A Modest Proposal disguise.
Call it the Deadbeat Constant, perhaps, or Conquest’s missing Fourth Law of Politics: “Communities of idealists will be infiltrated and overtaken by criminals sooner rather than later.”
Leftists consider criminals fellow outsiders and support them accordingly—from a safe distance. This misguided and sometimes fatal proclivity is well documented, from Sacco and Vanzetti to Jack Abbott and Mumia. Liberal Hollywood made its billions in part by glamorizing gangsters and murderers, transforming hideous, low-rent bank robbers into the breathtakingly beautiful heroes of 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde (to cite one among thousands of examples).