Hijacking a Movement

I like protests. Really, I do.

Now, I don’t like the ones that destroy downtown areas or personal property. Nothing is worse than seeing a mom-and-pop store disintegrate in a fire caused by an errant molotov cocktail. Violence does nothing but create unnecessary animosity, and that hurts (often irreparably) the ideas behind the movement.

The protests I’m talking about are the peaceful ones, where a group communicates its stance in a manner that is both clear and hard to ignore. As with anything, there are ones I like more than others (and there are many I’d rather not see), but I appreciate the fact that we have the freedom to communicate our thoughts openly, in a group, and in a public setting. No matter how unpopular the opinions may be, I appreciate the right to do so.

Protests and movements give us permission to question the status quo and think about things that, previously, we hadn’t considered. They show us that the rosy smell we thought was the scent of a well-tuned country is really nothing more than a well-placed government (and/or corporate) air freshener. That’s great.

I appreciate the Occupy Wall Street gatherings. I don’t think the movement has fully matured yet, and I am curious as to its ultimate direction. So far, it started with some well-grounded, intelligent ideas. That’s good, but I’m worried.

I’m worried about the movement being hijacked by those who neither understand nor are able to effectively communicate its central message and significant themes. At that point, a movement loses momentum and becomes an amusing footnote in history.

I liked the initial premise of the tea party. It was progressive. It was edgy. Then, somehow, it was hijacked by right-wing conservatives who are the antithesis of the original 1700s tea party–comprised largely of drunken pranksters.

The environmental movement (movements?) had some great, scientifically-backed themes. Then, it became nothing more than a hangout for 20-somethings looking to join the cool crowd–all with names like Tucker and Dakota. Suddenly, the central theme changed to “Dude, the environment needs to be saved.” When asked to clarify, the response is something like “Nature and the environment is so cool, and we need to keep it for our children.” It makes me hope that they spare us the indignity of their producing children.

See, each of these movements was overrun by individuals who didn’t understand, for many reasons, the central themes, the logical reasoning, and the intended outcomes. Often, smart people devised these at the onset, but the information became lost at some point.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has some wonderful points, and, more than anything, it begs the average person to educate themselves, demand government accountability to the people, and an immediate erosion of excessive corporate influence. Sounds good.

What I fear, however, are the potential hijacking attempts. Already, I’ve seen the seeds–to include one individual who advocated a complete abolition of all big (even down to small) business, complete destruction of the banking industry, government takeover of all production and large-scale operations, and government employment for almost everyone. He even advocated that every American be provided with certain luxury goods at government expense. He claimed this would produce a revenue stream and economic prosperity of unparalleled dimensions. His stance is a radical departure from the relatively moderate original themes of OWS.

While I seriously doubt that any of the intellectual leaders of the OWS movement are reading this, I hope they plan appropriately for unknowing joiners and radicals. Oh, keep a few around, they’re great for amusement and an occasional run to WhatABurger, As you can see, however, they do little to add value to a movement.