Have the efforts of the Occupy Wall Street protesters reached a turning point? Author Michael Chorost, says yes. In an article published two days ago in Psychology Today, Chorost says the moral courage that was displayed by the OCW Davis students - while being pepper sprayed by campus police - demonstrated a moment of moral clarity that has created a turning point in the fight against government corruption.
This event is powerfully symbolic. It is about contempt from those in power and the wanton use of force against the powerless.
We have seen similar things over and over again in the past few years. We have seen it in banks lobbying for public handouts and then denying relief to millions of exploited homeowners. We have seen it in tax breaks and bonuses for the rich while millions of Americans are out of work. We have seen it in church and university officers abusing children and then covering it up. We have seen it in the censorship of climate science performed in the public interest. We have seen it in the absurd declaration that corporations are "people" and entitled to spend billions of dollars to elect representatives that they will then own. We have seen it everywhere we turn.
The police officer is Congress. Our banks. Our clerics.
The students are us.
If I had to sum up the attitude of America's governing classes in one word, I would say: contempt.
We are seeing the beginning of a worldwide movement to fight for dignity and intelligent, collective governance. It is remarkable, the parallels between what we see in Tunisia, in Cairo, in Rome, in Zucotti Park, in Oakland, California, and now at UC Davis.
A growing number of authors are using the term "moral" to describe the efforts of the protesters, which is a stark contrast to the memes that have been presented by FOX News and other right wing outlets.
Occupy Wall Street’s Moral Ground
Much of the Occupy movement’s power comes from a simple moral message: It’s wrong to wreck the world. It’s wrong to wreck the health and hopes of others.
by Kathleen Moore
The Occupy Wall Street Movements are connecting the dots on a map of dysfunction and injustice. Climate change. Toxic neighborhoods. Financial recklessness. Jobs despair. Concentrated wealth. Pointless war. The dots all connect to one central social pathology, which is funding (one might say, buying and selling) of elections (and of the elected) by powerful centers of wealth—mostly corporations, mostly destructive and extractive corporations. Our erstwhile democracy has now developed a futures market in politicians. This has created a situation where the government is fundamentally controlled by those who would risk or wreck the (name your favorite: economy, environment, children’s futures) for their own short-term gain.
The consequence is, of course, that the destructive few now control the regulatory agencies and potential regulations that might have limited their recklessness and greed. They have the consequent power to close off options for resolving the environmental and economic emergencies. They have the power to block federal actions that might prevent injustices. They have the power to bulldoze the natural systems that sustain our lives.
Along the straining fault lines of our civilization, we feel the forces building for justice, sanity, and lasting ecological and cultural thriving.
This is what demonstrators' homemade signs are saying: Get the money out of politics (and politicians' pockets), so we can be a democracy again, so we can enact the measures that will save us from personal and global catastrophe. Self-created environmental catastrophe has taken down many civilizations before ours. But this time, the self-inflicted catastrophe of climate change will take down also the hydrological cycles and relative climate stability that have allowed the evolution of the world as we know and love it. We can draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide to livable levels. But not until we draw down the power of those who are enriched by destroying the conditions of human and ecological thriving.
We are all in this together. The lines that connect climate change to jobs to the environment to education to health to justice are strong and undeniable. The time has passed for an environmental movement. The time has passed for a climate change movement. The time has passed for isolated grassroots movements. We stand on ground that trembles with tectonic movement. Along the straining fault lines of our civilization, we feel the forces building for justice, sanity, and lasting ecological and cultural thriving. This, finally, is The Big One—the coming together of all of us who care about the future and do not want to gamble it away. The Big One will shake the world.
Compare that to the derogatory comments written by By Eli Saslow and Colum Lynch in the November 15th issue of the Washington Post:
Is this an occupation or an infestation?
Democracy has rarely looked so messy.
The dinosaurs in the mainstream media seem terribly out of touch with the warm wind that is sweeping our nation: the entire world. In an article that was published in the Guardian UK, Henry Porter makes the claim that 2011 is a year of rebirth
Odd as it may seem, 2011 is proving to be a year of rebirth
Something deep and impressive is going on in the new generation who have an innate sense of justice and fairness
The Age of Downfalls, inaugurated when the 74-year-old President Ben Ali of Tunisia flew into exile and a coma, has claimed a surprising number of his generation. And it's not just the toppling of tyrants such as Ben Ali, the 83-year-old former President Mubarak of Egypt, or the 69-year-old Muammar Gaddafi, but also the demise of such men as Silvio Berlusconi (75), the former head of the IMF Dominique Strauss Khan (62) and the variety of threats faced by many Middle Eastern leaders, Rupert Murdoch (80) and the president of Fifa, Sepp Blatter (75).
Obviously, the same forces are not responsible for each man's troubles, but a year ago each of them seemed bombproof. We had no inkling that the world was about to be remade in such astonishingly short order; that history would decide, for whatever reason, that these men have had their time and the pathetic fiction of the dictator's hair dye would no longer work. If neutrinos can travel the length of Italy faster than the speed of light, calling into question our most fundamental assumptions about the universe, just about anything can happen.
That is the vital point: millions are calling not just for fairness and justice, but a reform of the institutions that will guard against the crimes and corruption of the few against the many. This is an amazingly important step for humanity and it is one of the reasons that despite the sense of impending crisis, I take heart from the Age of Downfalls.
I think the winds of change are sweeping our nation.
10:20 AM PT: This is interesting:
CNN's Howard Kurtz is calling for New York City and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to apologize for the way the media was censored, roughed up and arrested during the recent eviction of Occupy Wall Street activists in Zuccotti Park.
"New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered a post-midnight raid to clear the protesters from a lower Manhattan park," Kurtz explained Sunday. "Some reporters were pushed away and barred from covering the confrontation. About two dozen journalists from outlets such as the AP and The New York Daily News were arrested. Bloomberg says the city was trying to -- quote -- 'prevent a situation from getting worse and protect members of the press.' Except police later shoved and roughed up a number of reporters and photographers."
"This is quite simply an outrage, that police haul off journalists trying to do their jobs and push the press corps away from a legitimate news event," Kurtz declared. "That is nothing less than censorship and the city owes these journalist and the rest of us an apology."
Maybe we've reached a turning point for the press.
11:36 AM PT: I think the breaking news of the resignation of the military government in Egypt supports Henry Porter's claim that 2011 is a year of rebirth:
Egypt's state television says the Cabinet has submitted its resignation to the ruling military council but will stay on to run the nation's day-to-day affairs until a decision is made.
The resignation of the Cabinet on Monday came amid widening protests against the ruling military. Protesters are demanding that the military quickly announce a date for the handover of power to a civilian government. At least 24 protesters have been killed in the past three days.
1:54 PM PT: Susie Madrak of Crooks and Liars is reporting that 170 economists have signed a statement supporting Occupy Wall Street:
We are economists who oppose ideological cleansing in the economics profession. Equally we oppose political cleansing in the vital debate over the causes and consequences of our current economic crisis.
We support the efforts of the Occupy Wall Street movement across the country and across the globe to liberate the economy from the short-term greed of the rich and powerful “one percent”.