The OWS protesters have more clearly defined their complaints.
Or at least one of them has. This is a specific attack on Goldman Sachs, and a well-deserved one.
I’m a little late to see this post, but Paul Krugman, in a post entitled “Times Square, Earlier Today,” uploaded a photo sent to him by Robin, who I assume is his wife Robin Wells, also an economist.
I’m not sure what the photo is meant to show.
Crowds? A particular sign? Something humorous or out of the ordinary? Something encouraging or ominous? I honestly don’t know. I think he was trying to show how many people were out protesting so early in the morning.
One reader quipped:
President Obama speaking at the MLK Memorial dedication this morning in DC. (Full text here.)
And so at this moment, when our politics appear so sharply polarized, and faith in our institutions so greatly diminished, we need more than ever to take heed of Dr. King’s teachings. He calls on us to stand in the other person’s shoes; to see through their eyes; to understand their pain. He tells us that we have a duty to fight against poverty, even if we are well off; to care about the child in the decrepit school even if our own children are doing fine; to show compassion toward the immigrant family, with the knowledge that most of us are only a few generations removed from similar hardships. (Applause.)
To say that we are bound together as one people, and must constantly strive to see ourselves in one another, is not to argue for a false unity that papers over our differences and ratifies an unjust status quo. As was true 50 years ago, as has been true throughout human history, those with power and privilege will often decry any call for change as “divisive.” They’ll say any challenge to the existing arrangements are unwise and destabilizing. Dr. King understood that peace without justice was no peace at all; that aligning our reality with our ideals often requires the speaking of uncomfortable truths and the creative tension of non-violent protest.
But he also understood that to bring about true and lasting change, there must be the possibility of reconciliation; that any social movement has to channel this tension through the spirit of love and mutuality.
If he were alive today, I believe he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there; that the businessman can enter tough negotiations with his company’s union without vilifying the right to collectively bargain. He would want us to know we can argue fiercely about the proper size and role of government without questioning each other’s love for this country — (applause) — with the knowledge that in this democracy, government is no distant object but is rather an expression of our common commitments to one another. He would call on us to assume the best in each other rather than the worst, and challenge one another in ways that ultimately heal rather than wound.
The Washington Post reported that the speech “at times seemed to link King’s own struggles for civil rights with Obama’s political struggles during the economic downturn.” Is using the speech for these purposes is appropriate or not? Does it cheapen the event, or would King want Obama to use the event as an opportunity for social change? I tend to side with the former. Let the speech just be a commemoration of the great man to whom it is dedicated, and don’t cheapen it by making it more political, at least in such specific terms, i.e. “I believe he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there,” or, “Government is not distant object, but rather an expression of our common commitments to one another.”
Colin Monahan from the NYT reported this morning from the OWS protests in NY for ABC’s “This Week.” In the background was an inverted American flag.
As of this writing, the “Drudge Report” leads with the headline, “Obama Offers More Support to the Protesters.”
Supporting a group, that while possessing the same frustrations as ordinary Americas also has a strong anti-capitalist and anti-American bent, is not smart politics for a president running a reelection campaign. OWS is protesting so their voices are heard. The more their voices are heard – and then what? – the more politicians will have to lend support or offer rebuke. Republicans will welcome disquiet among the Left. It could possibly fracture their vote while offending the moderate middle of the electorate, of whom few support protestors with bandanas across their faces and American flags under their feet. Obama may try to harness this frustration as energy in his campaign, but it is a difficult maneuver. He must use his pulpit to define the narrative of his campaign. “We Are All Frustrated” just doesn’t have the same ring as “Hope and Change.”