Saturday, November 12, 2011

Check that mic check

After yet another huge round of huzzahs on the twitter machine, I checked out one of these mic checks the Occupy people have been doing at Republican town halls. I didn't feel like cheering. Frankly, I cringed. Sure it was done with positive intention, and vaguely more respectful, but it reminded me of nothing so much as the Tea Party mobs that disrupted Democratic town halls in the summer of health care reform.

I've been trying to articulate my thoughts on this without sounding like a scoldy schoolmarm, but since he's already done it better, I'm outsourcing my discomfort to Charles P. Pierce:
Which is only part of the reason why I'd recommend that the Occupy people stay away from activities like Thursday's action at Michele Bachmann's speech in South Carolina. In the most pragmatic sense, things like that are useless. They give Bachmann a chance to wax nobly on behalf of everyone's right to free speech, while changing no minds in the hall because there are no minds to change. (Least of all Bachmann's, which you couldn't change with mind-expanding drugs and the cast of The Manchurian Candidate brought out of retirement.) Heckling Michele Bachmann is a pointless waste of breath.

Moreover, the optics are terrible. Part of the reason the Tea Party Movement is as generally unpopular as it has become is that people got sick of seeing every town-hall meeting turned into a geriatric production of West Side Story. And before anyone makes the argument about the 2010 midterms, let's remember that the Tea Party had large-scale corporate logistical power behind it, as well as the unblinking support of one entire television "news" channel, both of which were enough to intimidate "serious" journalists into giving the Tea Party the benefit of vastly unearned doubts. The Occupy movement has none of that. In fact, all that power and influence is pretty much arrayed against it at this point. That makes all the difference. Continuing to interrupt the banal little ceremonies of the 2012 election process is futile and cannot end well.
As Charles points out, the silent witness speaks so much louder than a cacophony of slogans shouted in a crowded room. The tents make a powerful statement without saying a word. Let them speak to the greater issues that threaten to tear civil society to shreds and leave the instant politics of the moment out of it.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

<< Home