The Contrarian: Know Your Enemy

Last Thursday was the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement and I was surprised to realize that I had no idea it had been that long. This “Day of Action,” organized and planned weeks prior to this, shall we say, commemorative gathering, called to attention nearly 1,000 people that allotted police officers were wholly prepared to arrest if necessary (if even possible). Protests were staged at more than a dozen NY subway stations and in proximity of the New York Stock exchange, where the police were at the ready with metal barricades and other deterrents such as fists and pepper spray as protesters marched up in resolution to shut down the New York Stock Exchange.

That is what the goal is here, right? RIGHT?! I dunno, just checking. I know I’m not the only one who can honestly say that they are more or less unsure of the movement’s ultimate aim.

Two days prior, slumbering/resisting in their tents and sleeping bags, the occupants of Zuccotti Park, the unofficial central headquarters for the movement, were cleared out of their stead by a raid by police at 1 a.m. that morning after an ultimatum was made just past that midnight. Personal belongings left behind in haste were collected and thrown into waiting garbage trucks. These included (but are not limited to) tents, bicycles, tarps and uncollected children…

…I totally made that last part up, but imagine the media outrage! It would certainly aid OWS’s political clout, which has been somewhat buttressed by public disgust at the injuries sustained by what have been identified as protesters demonstrating in a peaceful manner or especially undeserving of ill-treatment by police.

For example, an 84-year-old woman was pepper sprayed in the face at an Occupy Seattle protest last week, and several members of the armed forces have been injured at the hands of law enforcement, namely 24-year-old Scott Olsen, former Marine and Iraq War veteran, who sustained a fractured skull and remains hospitalized as a result of being shot with a rubber bullet during one of these protests.

The public perception of this movement, one of the most visible revolutionary bodies the United States has seen in years, is everything. The fact that the very aim and achievements of the organization are questionable by the public, the media and, assumedly, even the protesters themselves, makes this perception the only weapon to wield against whatever it is they claim to be fighting against.

Going back to the raid on Zuccotti Park last Tuesday night. I will admit, my first reaction to this development was that I found it comparable to the Battle of Trenton during the American Revolutionary War where the Hessians, full on feasting, most likely drunk, and contently sleeping on Christmas night, lost their ground due to the element of surprise and U.S. troops taking advantage of them in a most vulnerable state.

In mind I had the image of tents upon tents of sleepy, innocent protesters, comfortable and unaware in their sleeping bags, being pulled from sleep by the police raid, like the Jews accosted from hiding by the Gestapo. As mentioned earlier, this was not exactly the case, as the protesters had ample warning and advance to evacuate and those who remained in the park following instruction were demonstrating conscious resistance to the promise the police ultimately kept.

Nevertheless, I had the initial belief that the more dramatic scenario was how it went down, and with conscience I attribute this opinion to the event’s portrayal by the media. Again, I’m sure I’m not the only one.

By end of day Thursday, the “Day of Action,” hundreds of protesters were taken into custody and dozens injured, reflecting the violence that has turned so many members of the movement into martyrs.

And what revolution can do without martyrs? They can’t. But the question here is, for what?

Adolf Hilter once said, “The efficiency of the truly national leader consists primarily in preventing the division of the attention of a people, and always in concentrating it on a single enemy.”

In this ideological protest against a plainly suffering economy, high unemployment, social and economic inequality, and the purportedly undeserving influence of corporations and the “boys with the big guns,” Occupy Wall Street means to represent, to lead, the 99 percent, the common American, in a battle against the 1 percent of people who hold the greatest concentration of wealth. It’s “Us” verses “Them,” the good, hard-working people of this nation against the corrupt and the greedy.

But who are the “Them?” Is it really Wall Street? Perhaps the United States Government? Maybe Scott Olsen staged the whole thing for the glory. The answer to that is as definitive as the idea that the government is being “transparent” with us; it isn’t at all. The one thing that we as Americans can be sure of is that something isn’t right, hasn’t been, and the enemy may not, and is most likely not, a single, or even discernible, enemy.

The systems we perpetuate are, in the greatest sense, the oppressors in this situation. Those enemies that OWS ostensibly targets are scapegoats at best. However, this movement is making more visible, unavoidable, the flaws in our institutions. Flaws that we as a nation must take incentive to improve and correct.

So even without a black and white aim, this makes the Occupy Wall Street movement more than necessary.