I support freedom of speech. I support freedom to assemble. I support standing up to a corrupt system. I support Occupy Wall Street.
That said, Occupy Oakland seriously needs to GTFO.
I tried to be open-minded. After all, I'm a stinking NorCal liberal, right?
|Image via http://www.ericfoster.org/.|
But lately, it's hard to ignore the fact that this situation makes about as much sense as it would for a group of pro-choice activists to camp out indefinitely on the lawn in front of Planned Parenthood, in an effort to protest the religious right's war on Roe v. Wade. What progress would be achieved by campers blocking access to the abortion facility, causing damage to a clinic's property, even using the clinic's electricity and other meager non-profit resources as a means of sustaining their own agenda--an agenda allegedly in place to support the goals of the facility itself? How would pro-lifers be negatively impacted if we begged all family planning clinics to cancel their patients and close their doors for one day? What logic would there be in setting out to effectively shut down Planned Parenthood and its services, in order to somehow empower the organization in the face of a formidable pro-life opponent?
Such a protest would make as much sense as sucking dry a liberal, blue-collar city that has already stripped bare its schools, libraries, parks, police, and fire departments, in an effort to stick it to Wall Street fat cats. It would make as much sense as telling small businesses in a downtrodden city to close their doors for a day, in order to protest the greed of corporate America.
I'm looking at you, Occupy Oakland. Because I have so many beloved friends who have joined and/or expressed their support for your activity here in Oakland, I hesitate to call you what I really want to call you: a parasite. Indeed, I know there are many in your company whose intentions are pure. I am aware that there are some very good people involved in Occupy Oakland who, despite its hefty costs to this struggling, largely poor-to-working-class city (some sources have estimated as much as $250,000 per day), remain resolved in their hearts that they are fighting the good fight for the 99%. I, however, believe they are misguided.
You see, parasite or not, we, the people of Oakland, are by definition your host. And this is not a symbiotic relationship.
So far, the controversy stemming from the Occupy Oakland campsite has pitted residents against visitors. It’s pitted civilians against law enforcement. It’s pitted law enforcement against mayor. It’s pitted businesses against themselves.
Indeed the real tragedy is that, for the most part here in Oakland, we’re all on the same side in the long run. We’re all the 99%. And nearly all of us—even those of us who say it’s time for campers to go home—are typically liberal voters who want to see a change in the system. In my opinion, perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this situation is the division it has created within an overwhelmingly liberal voting base. Remember when John McCain picked a slack-jawed yokel teabagger as his running mate? It strengthened his opponent's base and it caused even some of the most staunch conservatives to switch sides. You see, my friends, such is the power of stupid.
For those of you who think your cries of fury and refusal to vacate Frank Ogawa Plaza is somehow instilling fear and trepidation in the hearts of the Fox News contingent, I suggest you head back to your homes in Martinez and Danville and San Francisco (or wherever else you live, because it's a fact that most of you don't actually hail from Oakland) and turn on the television.
What? Why are you looking at me like that?
Oh, right. I know. Television. But you see, contrary to what the bumper sticker on your Prius says, it's not about killing your television, it's about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. And while it's true that the mainstream media has hesitated to cover much of the Occupy Wall Street protests, those motherfuckers are all over Occupy Oakland like white on supremacist. While you pat yourself on the back for "making history", the 1% that owns the TV networks is counting on you to lend credence to their outrageous claims about liberals being crazy, wasteful, America-hating commies bent on destroying small businesses and bringing crime and filth to our cities.
Every time an ethnically diverse, politically liberal city like Oakland loses a dollar at the hands of its own, Bill O'Reilly does a shot of Bailey's Irish Cream. Right now Sean Hannity's dick is so hard for your counterproductive antics that all we need to do is toss a sheet over it and seven hippies could hold a drum circle inside. Just as the Tea Party weakened the Republican base in 2008 by dividing thinking Republicans like Colin Powell from bible-thumping troglodytes like Christine O'Donnell, Occupy Oakland is causing a rift between liberal Democrats who who want to empower diverse, working-class cities like Oakland, and their vocal, left-wing counterparts who, for some godforsaken reason, seem want to drive us into the ground. And by dividing and weakening our base in places like Oakland, we're only empowering folks like Rupert Murdoch and the rest of the 1%. It's a twisted definition of "winning" even the most tweaked-out Charlie Sheen wouldn't comprehend.
When the Oakland Unified School District voted to close five elementary schools last week, it cited two million dollars in funds that would be saved as justification for those closures.
Two million dollars. That's the approximate cost impacted the city by Occupy Oakland in less than two weeks of camping and protest.
How does this astounding figure affect the campers at Occupy Oakland? Well, let's just say that when this is all over, they will head back to wherever they live (because again, the vast majority do not reside here), leaving the children of Oakland to clean up their mess for decades to come. And speaking of cleaning up, how ironic is it that Oakland Parks and Recreation recently had to discontinue trash removal service to several local parks, yet the city of Oakland continues to play chambermaid to the Frank Ogawa Plaza campsite? It's enough to make me want to call my broker and buy a couple hundred shares of Porta Potty stock.
Never has a resistance begged Pete Seeger's timeless question more: Which side are you on?
Really, though. Which side are you on?
And so, back to the earlier question, do the ends justify the means? I guess that depends on what those ends will be. If Mayor Jean Quan continues her fence-sitting and campers remain on Frank Ogawa Plaza rather than on Wall Street, what does the future hold for Oakland?
I'm no fortune teller, but I'm pretty certain that if things around here don't change soon, the future of Oakland is going to look like this:
And the future of America is going to look like this: