Writing in The Nation, Allison Kilkenny offers an angry rebuttal to Ginia Bellafante's NYT article on the Occupy Wall Street demonstration, which paints the protesters as "scatterbrained, sometimes borderline-psychotic transients." Kilkenny attended the same demonstration, and while she also saw "super-loud and eye-catching" demonstrators, she mostly found herself talking to everyday people who'd lost everything, like Matthew, a 40 year old father of two: "My home has been seized, I’m unemployed, there’s no job prospects on the horizon. I have two children and I don’t see a future for them. This is the only way I see to effect change. This isn’t a progressive issue. This is an American issue."
While the left loses the valuable organizational mechanism of unions, the right has gained corporate masters like the Koch brothers to disseminate millions of dollars into astroturfing campaigns to organize and destroy on their behalf. While the left makes signs, the right has already deployed troupes to scream at town hall events.
These are the kinds of massive oppositional forces activists find themselves facing these days: an incredibly oppressive police state and a corporate cash monster bearing down on them from the right. Meanwhile, their union support army is either in retreat or preoccupied fighting other battles on other fronts in Wisconsin or Ohio, or one of the other forty-eight states where anti-union legislation was introduced this year courtesy of ALEC, a front group that serves as proxy for corporate interests.
Instead of bemoaning the fact that protesters haven’t arrived in matching uniforms with a coherent PowerPoint presentation, these are the issues we should be addressing. Of course the majority of Zuccotti Park occupiers are young, brash and lost. They’d have to be to do something like this, and risk getting hypothermia for the chance to be ignored and belittled by the media. Young people are always the first ones willing to risk comfort and security for the romantic vision of a better tomorrow.