As a group of hundreds march through the streets of New York City in bandanas, fur coats, drums and Apple laptops in hand, the Wall Street businessmen walking by to work once again realize how easy our generation is taken advantage of.
While our college-age cohorts march with the goal to occupy Wall Street using signs revolting against fascism, pollution, capitalism, the combustion engine, taxes, suppression of free speech and sometimes even Wall Street, it is clear that we have the capacity to organize a protest, but we’re not sure why.
If you haven’t heard about it yet, for more than a week a leaderless movement called Occupy Wall Street has camped in New York City’s Zuccotti Park and held protest marches to Union Square.
With an unclear message –– some even protesting the execution of Troy Davis –– and low turnout, the movement has caused much of the nation to scoff at our generation’s inability to form a rebellion.
Ginia Bellafante wrote in the New York Times, “The group’s lack of cohesion and its apparent wish to pantomime progressivism rather than practice it knowledgeably is unsettling in the face of the challenges so many of its generation face.”
And while I can’t help but be embarrassed of the videos I’ve seen of Occupy Wall Street showing something that looks more like an adult day-care rather than a revolt, I feel this “protest” is a good start toward mobilizing our age group.
People like Bellafante and the Wall Street Journal’s Gordon Crovitz were quick to write this off as a small tantrum –– a display of the immaturity and ignorance of a generation.
But they should realize that although OWS has been, for the most part, a failure in achieving anything, it is a step in the right direction.
Following the events in Zuccotti Park, web sites like occupythenation.com and occupytogether.org have joined the original occupywallst.org to gather protests around our country. Since, similar protests have popped up in Denver, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco and other big cities across the country.
While far from perfect, these “occupancies” provide a learning opportunity for our generation.
From OWS and the ensuing movements we’ve learned there is at least a growing unrest within the 20-somethings of America.
While the numbers haven’t been staggering by any means –– a few hundred out of promised thousands –– OWS provided a new portrayal of the age group commonly described as “indifferent.”
Videos of passionate youth giving speeches in the street, getting bloodied and pepper sprayed by police is proof our generation is capable of publicly questioning what they feel are atrocities in our society. The unrest is there, and while this might have been a pathetic display of unrest, maybe it could be the spark that ignites something that truly matters.
OWS also shows that in order to focus this unrest into a successful protest, we need a couple more ingredients: organization, and an image to be taken seriously.
Some were quick to compare OWS to the rebellion in Egypt –– a comparison Crovitz said was not accurate. I agree that OWS draws few parallels to what was seen in Cairo, Alexandra and throughout Egypt, we should still look to it for inspiration.
Egypt had the ingredients for revolution that we don’t have in America: An organized goal and an organized voice.
Weeks before the Egyptian protests in Tahrir Square, Asmaa Mahfouz posted a video that went viral on the Internet asking her people to help her bring down President Hosni Mubarak. Here we have a singular goal, “bring down Mubarak,” and an organized voice in Mahfouz.
These clear statements are nowhere to be found in New York City. It’s a sea of protestors all marching toward Wall Street at their own rhythm. There is no singular voice from the crowd, which gives them no chance to be heard.
From watching the live streams, videos and descriptions of the march, it seems the protesters are more concerned with their own problems than the problems we share as a whole. We need to discover a central ideal to rally behind.
In order to have any revolution here in America, we need to be taken seriously. Occupy Wall Street is simply not a mature expression of pent-up frustration capable of toppling regimes.
We can’t be taken seriously as a group if our idea of social change is standing topless in New York City proclaiming “I can’t afford a shirt,” and we can’t be taken seriously if we can’t decide what it is we don’t like about government –– Wall Street will continue to ignore our occupancy if we don’t have a unified voice.
News Editor Matt Miller is a junior journalism majors. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.