A surge of re-energized American citizens positioned in cities across the country are carrying out the grassroots “Occupy Wall Street” movement (or the “99 Percent Movement”) with an intelligent and provoking agenda that invokes real patriotic citizenship – much unlike the backwards Tea Party protests that have done little more than pervert our founding ideals while hidden under the guise of Americanism.
Also unlike the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street is not fueled by corporate dollars or any major television network (aka, Fox News), but by a vast, grassroots network of individuals who have either been negatively affected by the pro-regressive sentiment in the country or by those who have grown disillusioned by the Right wing’s strangle-hold over our country’s future and its catering to corporate citizenship.
The moniker “We are the 99%” is touted proudly by diverse groups of everyday Americans, ranging from teachers and students to firefighters, nurses, construction workers and Marines.
Unfortunately, though – if you listen to many Congressional Republicans, Right wing pundits and Tea Party aficionados – when common citizens across the country representing the vast majority of America peacefully protest in mass numbers against unbridled greed by Wall Street and the banking industry, they are just angry mobs of un-American thugs engaging in anti-capitalist propaganda mongering.
But when corporate-sponsored Tea Partiers protest outside the White House or other public centers (albeit carrying signs promoting bigotry, racism, hatred and/or violence), they are symbolic of the purest form of patriotism in action.
Origins of mythology
To understand the difference between the Tea Party protests and those of Occupy Wall Street (#OWS), one needs to examine where the former came from.
As I stated above, #OWS originated amidst the throes of conflict between the corporate elite minority – whose self-serving methodologies have garnered the affections of the Right wing – and, well, the rest of us; at a time when “corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments.”
But what about the Tea Party?
Perhaps one of the greatest myths about the Tea Party is that it was created due to the backlash of bank and Wall Street bailouts coupled with the fake issue of high taxes (even though taxes are at their lowest level since the 1950s) and irresponsible spending (mostly leftover from the Bush era, but whatever). While this may have rang true for a minority share of original Tea Partiers, the sentiment was quickly co-opted by movement leaders – including radio personalities, TV evangelists and corporate groups – into worshipping the tax-exempt rich while pushing a pro-white, pro-Christian, anti-progressive and anti-worker narrative on the populace that found it much easier to relate to a set of folksy, homespun rhetoric fueled by neo-conservative doublespeak than actually relate facts to accountability or reality to reason.
Set on repeat via a continuous media stream by professional PR folks paid by huge budgets from organizations like Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks – two well-known Republican-funded groups – fake outrage was further stoked by bigoted xenophobia (fear of foreigners) while “news” organizations like Fox News literally spent millions of dollars promoting protests that synergistically supported its own narrative and – of course – ensured high ratings.
Meanwhile, gun-toting, Bible-thumping, supposedly “all-American” protesters were bused in to swell Tea Party numbers at rallies; ill-informed, costumed “activists” posed for cameras while some of the harshest, brazenly violent and disgustingly racist and sexist propaganda was spread virally for the country to see (and the world to laugh at).
And as the Tea Party has been lifted to unimaginable heights by the corporate bonds that support it along with the Right wing media propaganda machine, most critics (like myself) have consistently ridiculed it for its self-induced inclusion of mislead, misinformed, grossly divisive culture; the majority of its ideals being sub-elementary tenets supported by little more than bigoted anti-Americanism of which any educated citizen would immediately recognize.
Fast forward to the past few weeks – as of September 2011 – Occupy Wall Street protesters, in true grassroots fashion, independently formed ranks against what many in this country see as the main detriment to real American freedoms and have since sprouted countless demonstrations across the country.
Arguing against issues like corporate/financial misdeeds, inequality and discrimination in the workplace, workers’ rights, inflated education and health care costs, imperial militarism and political/judicial wrongdoings, the #OWS has taken a positive and well-informed stance on issues the Tea Party would have done well to at least entertain – rather than insist upon would-be non-issues like gun legislation, religion, immigration and “Obamacare.”
They rally together on all fronts for the American people to emerge from behind the machinations of the media and reject the purposely manufactured direction that is/was the Tea Party.
But it seems as though every time a pundit like Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly or a politician pulls the “un-American” card, it’s on an issue that fundamentally IS American; like protests, civil disobedience, exercising basic rights afforded in the Constitution, etc.
It’s just mind-boggling how some people’s view of “American” vs. “un-American” is the complete opposite of the fundamental spirit of this country.
Republican presidential wannabe Herman Cain recently accused the Occupy Wall Street activists as simply being jealous Americans who “play the victim card” and want to “take somebody else’s” Cadillac. Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) referred to them as angry “mobs” who have pitted “Americans against Americans.”
“I didn’t hear him say anything when the Tea Party was out demonstrating, actually spitting on members of Congress right here in the Capitol,” Pelosi said on ABC’s This Week. “And he and his colleagues were putting signs in the windows encouraging them.”
According to Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace – who arguably is employed by the Republican party’s media arm – the “99 Percent Movement” was getting far more coverage “than it deserves.”
It should be noted that Wallace – along with the majority of other network hosts currently and formerly on Fox’s roster – served (and continues to serve) as one of the Tea Party’s almost-official spokespersons since 2009; willfully pushing a horrendous double standard and injustice to journalistic integrity by attempting to de-legitimize the 99 Percent Movement by misrepresenting it as misguided and anti-American while promoting and embracing the Tea Party as a fresh, patriotic, populist cure for the nation’s woes.
To Republican Congressman Peter King, Occupy Wall Street protesters are merely a mob of lawless, “anti-capitalist anarchists” who have “no idea what they’re doing.”
“The fact is these people are anarchists,” he said. “They have no idea what they’re doing out there…They have no sense of purpose other than a basically anti-American tone and anti-capitalist. It’s a ragtag mob basically…[W]e have to be careful not to allow this to get any legitimacy.”
“I’m taking this seriously in that I’m old enough to remember what happened in the 1960s when the Left-wing took to the streets and somehow the media glorified them and it ended up shaping policy…We can’t allow that to happen.”
Ah yes, the 60s – when the dastardly un-American “Left wing” – with its civil rights and sexual equality – “shaped policy” movements that transformed American culture by way of monumental progression; when leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. urged Americans to band together for a common good. When feminism liberated women and girls with the promise of a better life. When American youth rose up against military imperialism. When environmentalism dawned and American workers found a voice in unity.
Oh, the injustice. How dare anyone attempt to invoke the sensibilities of a majority of which go against the interests of a ruling minority of rich, white males?
What are Republicans like King so damn afraid of? Perhaps they fear democracy itself – or rather, the consequences of a direct democracy in which multi-national corporations are not viewed as human citizens and the ruling elite are held accountable.
Perhaps they fear a complete upending of political power structures in which the “99 percent” actually holds more power than the remaining 1 percent.
Today, government on both sides of the aisle can buy and sell elections – a factor that has become so definitive within our political system that the very suggestion to abolish corporate person-hood and eradicate the influence of the wealthiest 1% on global trade, politics and finance is ironically contrived – or at least, portayed – as being anti-American.
Our modern day American culture has devolved since our humble beginnings in the late 18th century to cultivate pure, self-interest while systematically suppressing altruistic, patriotic behavior. The Tea Party – in direct contradiction to the origins of its name – never addressed this; instead emboldening the self-serve mentality and left many in the country to consider true, empowered patriotism to be on par with socialism.
But now, as is evident with the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, the American people – scorned and tattered by an economy in shambles and a Congress sold to the highest bidder – are (hopefully) opening to a new, enlightened unity that not only empowers the fundamentals of American freedoms but also reignites some of the basic principals on which the country was founded.
- Joe Ascanio
Based out of Greater New York, Joe Ascanio is a full time web designer, developer and marketing guy working in the online technology marketplace. OneWhiteDuck.com is a semi-personal blog devoted to opinionated rantings over current events, politics and pop culture as they relate to our modern-day society.