It's been a long time since I have written a diary here, and there's a chance that some of the people I'm calling out here will read this & know who wrote it. I don't care.
Occupy Wall Street has come to Portland.
First, let me say that everyone here - literally everyone - in this small office of 15 people self-identifies as progressive, liberal, or a forward-thinking individual of some kind. This is why their attitudes - the ones who have spoken up - are abhorrent to me, more so than similar observations that might be made by the middle-class conservatives lost in the backlash as it's been defined by Susan Faludi, Thomas Frank and many others.
I thought I'd share these to see if anyone else has heard such remarks by progressives.
Some additional background. I work in downtown Portland, Oregon, near the riverfront. Today the city is having its own Occupy Wall Street-type rally.
Since I'm stuck at work, I'm unable to join in but I can observe some of the demonstration from an office window. As of 2:30 pm nothing has gone wrong: no reports via social media of violence or discord. Just a peaceful protest by ordinary people - union and non-union workers, mostly - exercising their Constitutional rights and choosing to express publicly the rage and helplessness that too often goes unexpressed.
Next to my computer I keep a notebook and I've been feverishly scribbling these remarks as soon they are made. Of course there's no way for me to prove this to you, but the quotes are accurate. Transcribed at the moment they were made. Granted it's a very small sample size and no larger conclusions can be extrapolated here.
Yes, just because some calls him/herself liberal doesn't make it so. Conversely the label Republican is thrown around like an epithet here. It seems like many of the people I work with lack the self-awareness to realize they're spouting conservative talking points regarding Occupy Wall Street.
Without further adieu:
I think they're protesting rich people. Or Wall Street. Whatever.
Who knows what they're so angry about.
I'm leaving now (this was before the protest started) and working from home to avoid all of this bullshit.
It's Portland. There's always a demonstration going on.
What seems like a snarky and throwaway remark on the surface betrays the hopelessness of the person who said it. The person in question is a true defeatist and needs to mock the demonstrators to feel better about surrendering his own voice to indifference. Sarcasm is the protest of the weak.
I wonder when (the protestors, not the police) and going to turn violent.
Why would one infer this? The protestors are not the ones riding horseback with weapons at the ready.
They're people who look to blame others for their failures.
As if spoken by Rush Limbaugh himself.
If they spent half as much time looking for a job as they did protesting, they'd have a place to go during the day.
Actual employment in Portland is on the order of one in four. It has been for three years. Effort is not the issue. Effort cannot overcome a lack of opportunity. This seems so obvious. Painfully obvious. Yet, maybe not when empathy is in short supply.
What I've detailed above might speak to how much the act of protest has been marginalized and how it's largely ignored by the MSM if not conducted by the Tea Party.
Pundits love to talk about how angry the public is. And when there's a genuine opportunity to explore this anger - you know, as an actual journalist might - the commentariat dismisses and derides those who choose to voice their displeasure with this second Gilded Age, with trying harder and falling further behind.
And yes, protesting can feel extremely futile. Sometimes it absolutely is futile in the case of preventing the Iraq War. But if you're going to call yourself progressive, and mock the Teabaggers as they do, don't parrot the talking points and reinforce the lies they hold as articles of faith.
The rage of these protests is more than justified and, unlike Teabagger animosity, aimed at the correct target. The biggest and most legitimate target, anyway, depending on how one feels about the Obama administration.
Today I lost a little bit of hope in my fellow progressives. I'm not giving up on them. And the next one who speaks up, even if it's my boss, will get a bit of a challenge from me. I wish I'd challenged all of these comments.
Trying to set one co-worker/friend straight is a successful albeit small act of protest. You can't act any more locally than that.
I'm very interested to see if any other community members have had similar experiences.
Thanks for reading.