What follows is a journalistic piece by Neferiu’s own Jonathan Stoddart AKA Ricca Razor Sharp on his recent/current trip to New York to learn more about the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Fear and Loathing on Wall Street
by Jonathan Stoddart
Episode 4: Reflections
11:02 AM Eastern Time, Tuesday October 18, 2011.
My hostel, Brooklyn New York
My name is Jonathan Stoddart, and I am an independent journalist, based out of Calgary, AB, Canada. This is the fourth and final installment in a series of pieces I am submitting documenting my trip to New York City to cover the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ (OWS) demonstrations.
For episode 1, 2 or 3 click below:
Activist or Tourist?
It is Tuesday, October 18, and I am soon to head to Newark Airport and return to Calgary, Canada. No matter, the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators remain strong, and claim to be ready to see this thing through for the long haul. As I return to my normal life, I can say that I have been there, done that, and yes, if you’re wondering, I bought the t-shirt. I guess I exist somewhere in the spectrum between activist and tourist. The occupiers are used to this. New York City teems with visitors, and the amount of hand waving and pic snapping these demonstrators are subject to would probably turn Britney Spear’s flash-tanned skin an extra shade of red.
A Means or an End?
If this particular demonstration is to be lasting, it will require the participation of long termers, those who will remain as the weather turns. Just as they have watched their story rise from the margins to the front page, they must retain resolve as it sinks back down the list, behind whatever celebrity scandal or international dust-up steals our attention tomorrow. The prognosis for their survival is not as bleak as one might imagine. We are not just talking about a couple of bleeding hearts here, but a varied group of dedicated New Yorkers. People in this city are not used to taking no for an answer. None of them are soft.
I have always felt that demonstrations are not an end to themselves, but a means to an end. What shall it gain these people if they inhabit this square permanently, only to see their ideas and dreams continue to go ignored? They will become but another Big Apple side show, like Rupert G’s ‘Hello Deli’ or Central Park’s ‘Naked Cowboy’. For this whole thing to be a success, their ideas must be co-opted by people far and wide, ultimately leading to their institution into first public consciousness, and then public policy.
And what, exactly, are those ideas? Isn’t that what I came down here to find out? As I mentioned in episode 3, they are varied, even, occasionally, contradictory. If I were to spend an hour walking around Zuccotti Park, asking 100 people to each offer me one political idea they represent, I would suppose that I would ‘click’ agree or strongly agree about 65-70 times. This is a number I feel comfortable with. I don’t like it when people agree with 100% of something. Seems like something a sheep would do. I would not be comfortable with these exact people replacing the government of the United States of America (Although a few of them wouldn’t hurt). But I would be gratified to see the people of America, and indeed the world, standing up and listening to their ideas, running them through the filter of individual judgment, and then demanding their representatives to include them in common sense policies designed to reflect the wishes of the citizens of their nations.
A good idea can come from anywhere, and those who know me understand that I do not judge books by their covers. But I can also tell you this: Mainstream America is not ready to have it’s economic or foreign policy dictated to them verbatim by any one citizen, especially if that citizen has a miniature leather jacket for their pit-bull. Ideals are created by the idealistic. The slightly more articulate mold them into ideas. The ideas are then sold to middle America by the more polished proponents, and ultimately Main Street demands Washington to act. Wall Street should not be dictators, but dictated to. This is probably the very best scenario that could result from this occupation. This is what democracy looks like.
Kick Em Out?
Some of those in power, both locally and nationally, would no doubt like to see the demonstrators go away. As keeping a police presence at the demonstration continues to cost New York City millions of dollars in overtime, you can almost hear at least one voice at the table advocating the ‘crushing of skulls’. But not only would this be unconstitutional, it would, at present time, be downright embarrassing. As some of America’s least favorite rulers fell victim to popular uprisings in this, the Arab Spring, the US government gladly watched and cheered, readily pontificating on the necessity of ‘acknowledging the will of one’s people.’ And now, as law abiding American citizens occupy Wall Street, the ball is in their court. Political powers from Moscow to Beijing, and throughout the middle east, would love nothing more than to bombard their people with footage of American forces bloodying their own peaceful protestors. They are, as the saying goes, painted into a corner.
As I left Zuccotti Park for the final time on Monday afternoon, I turned to pay one final gaze over the whole big beautiful spectacle. Its very existence is a tribute to liberty. Maybe America still is the land of the free and the home of the brave. I shall see you, my brave friends, on the news.
Jonathan Stoddart is a freelance journalist slash market research analyst currently based out of Calgary, AB. He also performs hip-hop music under the name ‘Ricca Razor Sharp’. People wishing to repost this blog are encouraged to do so. Publications interested in potentially using this material can contact the author via Facebook or at email@example.com
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