Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Occupy Baltimore: The Good, The Bad, and The Callow

Over the past month, I’ve been spending a lot of time down at the Occupy Baltimore protest down in McKeldin Square, across the street from the Inner Harbor. Several days out of each week in October, I was at the protest: participating, observing, and often inadvertently irritating the thin-skinned leaders of the local leaderless occupation. Like the Revolting Protester shown here, I risked, if not life and limb and unwanted back touching, then at least being called a dirty hippie by someone. I endured outrageous demands to “Get a fucking job,” although I have no experience in the sex industry.

The Revolting Protester (image credit: dorothyadele)

I support the general spirit of what’s happening nationwide, the movement that began with Occupy Wall Street in New York. It’s long overdue to see Americans getting out in the street to protest the sale of our democracy to corporate interests, and the hijacking of our government by the wealthy elite that the Occupy movement is calling the 1%.

Banks receiving government bailouts, while ordinary Americans are losing their homes in record numbers, is simply wrong. From that standpoint, I applaud everyone who has taken to the streets as part of this movement. I sincerely do.

The local Occupy Baltimore protest, however, has often been a cogent real life example of how NOT to seek consensus, how NOT to get people involved, how NOT to relate to the media, and how NOT to present a coherent message about anything. At times there have even been moments of clarity and sanity, in spite of the local movement’s callow self-appointed leadership.

In the coming days, I’ll examine a bit of what went wrong, and what sometimes, almost accidentally, went right.

Click here for part 2.
Click here for part 3.

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