By Elizabeth Willoughby on
The tenacious Occupy Wall Street movement that began on September 17 may have been ignored by mainstream media, but it caught the attention of many celebrities who have visited the New York city protest camp. Film maker Michael Moore and actor Susan Sarandon were in there early and, more recently, actor John Cusack and musicians Kanye West and Russell Simmons have lent their support.
Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello, who performed on the ground for protestors last week, explained his participation: “Do people have control over what their lives and their world are like beyond voting once every four years for someone they cross their fingers and hope is going to do the best job? It’s not a choice between the lesser of two evils; it’s often the choice of the evil of two lessers. The blinders are off. We’re on our own. We’ve got to figure this out for ourselves. As Ghandi said, first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win.”
“There’s a hopelessness that’s descended upon people,” said Mark Ruffalo, joining the protest in New York. “That hopelessness crushes dignity, and there’s only so far that human dignity can actually be crushed before it says ’That’s enough’. We’re reaching that point. We’re seeing it happen all over the world.”
US media found the only way to save face was to stop ignoring the protest and start reporting on it. Thanks to the movement’s lack of violence, media have been forced to focus on its message. Ever resistant, media say this is the problem – there is no unified message.
Not so says Alan Grayson, a former representative (D-FL). The so-called 99 percent is very easy to understand he said on the October 7 Bill Maher show:
“They’re complaining about the fact that Wall Street wrecked the economy three years ago and nobody’s held responsible for that. Not a single person has been indicted or convicted for destroying 20 percent of our national net worth accumulated over the course of two centuries. They’re upset about the fact that Wall Street has iron control over the economic policies of this country and that one party is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street and the other party caters to them as well. If I am spokesman for all the people who think that we should not have 24 million people in this country who can’t find a full time job, that we should not have 50 million people in this country who can’t see a doctor when they’re sick, that we shouldn’t have 47 million people in this country who need government help in order to feed themselves, and we shouldn’t have 15 million families who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home, okay, I’ll be that spokesman.”
Last weekend, the movement crossed its northern border into Canada where the idea for ‘a peaceful occupation of Wall Street to protest big business’ influence on governments and democracy’ originated (Vancouver-based magazine Adbusters’ July issue). Inspired by NYC, more than a dozen cities across Canada staged demonstrations before many of the protestors began settling into parks and tents.
Although the particulars of what the Canadians are protesting might be different than that of their American neighbours, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore” might encapsulate the general sentiment.
Whatever “it” is depends on the demonstrator, but “peaceful” protest is the common mantra of the movement that mainstream media can no longer pretend is insignificant.
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