Gerding: Occupy movement’s message on a path to clarification

It’s unfortunate that too much focus on the Occupy protest is on what the people look like or their lack of appropriate etiquette.

It’s unfortunate that too much focus on the Occupy protest movement spreading across North America is spent on what the people look like or their lack of appropriate etiquette.

Those of us passing on those disparaging comments need to spend a little more time understanding what is at stake.

In Kelowna, the incident at city hall on Monday was a prime example Occupy protesters were vilified as conspirators, complainers and agitators because of their actions and appearance. But these people are but a fragment of a larger movement that has not yet found its political voice, and that’s because politicians, particularly in the U.S., are scared to give the movement one.

Why? Because it’s an election year down south and the conservative vs. liberal fight to see who can be the most irrational, ignorant voter base is currently in full rage.

U.S. radio commentator Rush Limbaugh called the New York City protesters “human debris.” Might the conservative hotliner use the same words to describe his beloved Tea Party supporters who wear sidearms to a public meeting? Not likely.

My guess is that ultimately President Barack Obama will embrace the message that people are protesting about, because he already knows that real change on many different levels is needed to save their country from economic suicide.

But with both the Democrat and Republican political parties beholden to corporate campaign fundraising interests, finding a noble path in a corrupt forest can be hard to come by.

But when that does happen, a clearer consensus on what the Occupy movement stands for will emerge.

Those who can remember the 1960s will recall that it is was young people who bucked the establishment in the U.S. to bring about civil rights and to expose the Vietnam war for the sham that it was.

Their message back then was also openly disparaged, equated to being nothing more than a bunch of pot smoking, long-haired hippies who should stop protesting and get a job. Sounds familiar.

But that generation lit a fire under the U.S. establishment that transformed their country.

That same opportunity exists again, with the enemy this time not being the Communists or racial bigotry, but a nation’s own economic expectations.

Such a vague protest target extends to many branches of U.S. society, hence that lack of a cohesive message. But that will come.

The 24-hour media hype newscycle may have a hard time waiting for that to develop, but they need to focus more on the why of the Occupy movement and a little less on the who.

To put all this angst in some perspective consider this: Apple Computers is one of the most successful companies in the world, a corporate American icon, and yet it employs more people in China than it does in the U.S. Once again, we are so fortunate to live in Canada.



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