Although the outbreak of violence at Occupy Wall Street, Oakland Branch, yesterday was distressing, it is the underlying beliefs of the movement that are the greater cause for concern.
After a day of terrorizing shoppers, burning American flags, trashing ATMs (for causing unemployment?), and shutting down the Port of Oakland, this is the assessment of one of the Occupy leaders:
One of the protest leaders, Boots Riley, touted the day as a success, saying "we put together an ideological principle that the mainstream media wouldn't talk about two months ago."
His comments came before a group of demonstrators moved to break into the Travelers Aid building in order to, as some shouting protesters put it, "reclaim the building for the people."
In what sense did the Travelers Aid building ever belong to “the people”? If Travelers Aid were a company in which I had stock, I would be livid. This is what the Occupy movement is all about: laying claim to other people’s property (of course, most of these protesters don’t recognize the right to private property unless it’s their stuff).
But Mr. Riley is right: Occupy has helped make bitter class division in the United States, real or imagined, a hot topic. For some reason I don’t quite understand many commentators are jumping on the bandwagon to proclaim that these brats have "genuine grievances." In promoting the idea of class warfare, Occupy Wall Street merely took up President Obama’s tune and amplified it.
Class hatred has never been a popular cause in the U.S. Victor Davis Hanson has a great piece explaining why it is better to promote a free society in which wealth can be created than it is to orchestrate envy, as the president and Occupy movement are doing:
So do we really want to go down this them-vs.-us road? Using a new financial red line to crudely divide us is a tricky business. Those most likely to fly in corporate jets are precisely the elite who show up at the president’s mega-fundraisers and play golf with him on the world’s most exclusive courses — or visit Martha’s Vineyard and Vail, where the first family sometimes vacations. They don’t all wear pinstripes and Gucci, but may hang out at Occupy Wall Street rallies as actors, rappers, and filmmakers in jeans and baseball caps….
In a larger sense, we should remember a few things about the new orchestrated envy of, and animosity toward, the better-off. Most Americans each day depend on our medical care, our retirement packages, our food, our gas, and our computers from exactly these “few at the top” who seem to enrich rather than prey on society….
In short, a confident, successful society neither idolizes nor demonizes its rich, but instead believes that wealth can be created rather than taken from others. And it simply judges the better-off by the content of their characters, not the size of their wallets.
Oh, and just an addendum: The Oakland City Council still plans to take up today a resolution expressing solidarity with Occupy. So I guess being Occupied is not so bad, unless you're trying to go to work, get goods into the Port of Oakland, or use an ATM.