By Jim Koury, Editor, Diversity Rules Magazine
© Diversity Rules Magazine, 2011. All rights reserved.
I feel compelled to chime in on the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement and its relation to the queer community. At first glance, one would think these two movements would find peace and harmony with each other; fighting for the downtrodden, the oppressed and those that are living less than meaningful lives due to those in control of the economic and political structures of our country.
In many respects, the goals(?) of the OWS protests do serve as a coalescing force to unite the voices of the 99 percent together, of which the Queer community is part. Minorities are inherently discriminated against by those in the top 1 percent. They most times are the ones who support the economic and political systems that generally protect those with wealth and power, through tax breaks, corporate loopholes and other neat little tricks that most in the 99 percent cannot partake. When the political powers that be at every turn, pass legislation protecting the privileged class in America, how can anyone expect a minority person to have a fair shot at a piece of the economic pie.
With that said, and while I share a certain degree of empathy for the OWS movement, after a fair amount of thought and reflection I must arrive at the conclusion that it would behoove the Queer community to steer clear of a movement that is fast becoming an anarchistic entity, with no central voice or clear set of objectives toward which to achieve. Additionally, I have been asked a number of times to consider mobilizing the local queer community around the OWS movement as an expression of solidarity and support toward common goals. However, after listening to many of the protesters on TV, reading stories on the Internet and observing a recent controversy related to the local OWS group (which I innocently put myself in the middle of by trying to make light of an emotional situation), I am finding it increasingly more difficult to even provide moral support to the cause.
In order to solidify my position, let me relate to you a picture I recently saw on Facebook posted by an OWS advocate that said, “Vote for Nobody. Nobody tells the truth.” To me this epitomizes the OWS’ biggest flaw and what I see to be the ultimate downfall of this movement. I would like to think this was just a metaphorical play on words related to the uselessness of our current breed of politician in Washington, DC. But after engaging conversation in a long string on a OWS supporter’s Facebook page, I realized that this was much more than a metaphor! These people (or at least the group of OWS people I was conversing with) were advocating that we simply stay home and not vote because everyone is corrupt and by voting it simply perpetuates the corruptness of our system. What a callous and quite honestly, foolish position to take.
In the midterm elections of 2010, too many people did stay home and did not vote. They chose to abdicate their civic duty in protest of the economic malaise that is gripping the country. What did we get for doing so? We got a House of Representatives dominated by far right wing Tea Party and religious zealots who are not representing, least of all the American people, and are solely advocating for their own petty interests and have chosen to hold the country hostage. They refuse to participate in the art of compromise and legislate for the common good of all Americans.
The queer community has been one of the targets of the House GOP’s war on the middle class, minorities and those who do not emblazon God on their shirt sleeves. The queer community can ill afford to hitch itself to the OWS movement that advocates that people should stay home and just not vote. The queer community has been so successful in achieving equal rights throughout the country due to having a unified, cohesive voice with a clear set of goals and objectives and translating them into policy due to going to the voting booth. Hitching itself to a movement that does not have the desire to advocate an agenda through a cohesive voice and chooses to be “leaderless” is essentially committing political suicide and would jeopardize all that the queer community has worked hard to achieve.
No, do not stay home and not vote! Do you think the right wing zealots will stay home and not vote? Hardly! They will continue to mobilize their forces to get to the ballot box to elect the same class of despicable representation that took control of the House of Representatives in 2010. While we can certainly have empathy for the overall premise being set forth by the OWS movement, we cannot allow ourselves to be duped into thinking that by not voting it will bring effective change. It will only perpetuate the control that the 1 percent has on this country and will ultimately put at risk the achievements of those of us who have worked diligently and aggressively toward equal treatment for all.
5 thoughts on “Occupy What?”
"A response to Jim Koury’s blog entry on ‘Diversity Rules” (November 27th, 2011)(Part 1)
December 1, 2011
Firstly, I think some basic coalesced ‘wants’ of the OWS, 1-They want ‘big money’ out of politics, 2- create a more equal distribution of wealth “ 10% of US citizens own 70.9% of all US assets”(http://www.dailypaul.com/111232/us-wealth-distribution-10-of-us-citizens-own-709-of-all-us-assets), this from a RonPaul sight, the ‘Daily Paul’, ‘free market’ proponents. 3- hold those corporations and CEO’s of the 2008 ‘meltdown’ responsible, meaning, prosecutions where necessary, 4- No cuts, to social programs, (as we spend over 1 Trillion dollars a YEAR on Military spending, still have troops, ‘contractors’ (?), in two wars and over 90 countries) We can surely do better than cutting the social programs that the poor, and the soon to be the poorer rely upon, 5- Reverse the ‘Corporations are People’ Citizens United supreme court decision, and many more.
"A response to Jim Koury’s blog entry on ‘Diversity Rules” (November 27th, 2011)(Part 2)
Mr. Koury, you stated the following after conversing online Facebook with some an OWS member(s). “These people were advocating that we simply stay home and not vote because everyone is corrupt and by voting it simply perpetua#OCCUPYWALLSTREET is a leaderless people powered movement for democracy that began in America on September 17 with an encampment in the financial district of New York City. Inspired by the Egyptian Tahrir Square uprising and the Spanish acampadas, we vow to end the monied corruption of our democracy … join your local #OCCUPY! We're now in DAY 76. tes the corruptness of our system. What a callous and quite honestly, foolish position to take.”…
Please go down to some encampment (before they are all raided) and speak to the people there, and not just the one holding the ‘Socialist Workers of America’ sign. I have been down to Zuccotti park, twice before the Eviction on the Nov. 15th, and once since then with a group of Seniors, and elder Unionists, with a panel of some of the NYC Occupy members, and most every one of the Senior members, like myself , stated that this is the movement, ‘they have been waiting for’. Well, what does that mean? Mayor Jason West, (yes, the infamous same sex marrying before it was legal in NYS mayor), stated in one video I took of some of the Occupy Poughkeepsie group, and protestors in New Paltz in October, ‘it was not so much a movement, as an awakening’.
"A response to Jim Koury’s blog entry on ‘Diversity Rules” (November 27th, 2011)(Part 3)
Already, the national conversation has been enlightened and changed, in that the income inequality, the Criminal activities of Wall Street ‘thugs’, and the Millionare/Billionaire CEO’s, and on and on, is now being discussed, acted on and has become the ‘Conversation’. Already, OWS has done what it meant to do, in my humble estimation. Are they all ‘coherent’?, are they all ‘making sense’?, does, ‘End the Fed’ mean anything? Does , ‘No cuts, Jobs!’ on a sign held by marchers, protestors, of which I saw many , of all backgrounds, gay, straight, black, white, asian, hispanic, & more, marching together on October 5th, NYC. Also of late the Mass rally on November 17th, which was the Second month anniversary, reignited by the brutal Eviction at Zuccotti Park, or ‘Liberty Square’, as it is called.
"A response to Jim Koury’s blog entry on ‘Diversity Rules” (November 27th, 2011)(Part 4)
As per the ‘vote for no one’ expression above, well, that’s one person, that’s the anger over the complicity of both our ‘two party’ systems in the corruption corporate ownership, yes, as you said. But, I met so many viewpoints in my communications with the Movement. On my first real visit to ‘Liberty Square’, I walked all around the encampment, took pictures, talked with many protestors. They had a zillion’ different signs and opnions, but were there, all together, ‘Occupying’, meaning, I surmise, ‘we are here, we are not going away until these concerns are dealt with’…. I talked with the ‘gay’ groups, the ‘librarians’ (I am a librarian and brought them down some books to add to their Library), I drummed with the drum circles, and just talked with many different folk.. Of all the differing opinions, viewpoints, etc., the important thing is the UNITY, the statement, that ‘Something has to be done’. You state again and again, your seeming anger over this one person’s lack of interest in voting. “The queer community can ill afford to hitch itself to the OWS movement that advocates that people should stay home and just not vote.” You note the ‘leaderless ness’ of the movement, which I understand can be, at times, exasperating. But, I have attended and participated in their ‘GA’s’ or General Assemblies’ at the Occupy Poughkeepsie site, and listened to many more online, and streaming on the Internet. They have created a totally ‘democratic’ system, with differing ‘working groups’ to deal with different problems, issues, actions (meaning planning protests against certain places & issues at different times). Not always so well put together, yes, not always so coherent, but what they created is almost awe inspiring, in its simplicity while being complicated. But, isn’t Democracy supposed to be said, by many, to be ‘messy’? I urge you to give another listen, talk to several actual people , with other viewpoints. As I write, this is on the official OWS site today,
“#OCCUPYWALLSTREET is a leaderless people powered movement for democracy that began in America on September 17 with an encampment in the financial district of New York City. Inspired by the Egyptian Tahrir Square uprising and the Spanish acampadas, we vow to end the monied corruption of our democracy … join your local #OCCUPY! We're now in DAY 76.” Maybe you never read that.
"A response to Jim Koury’s blog entry on ‘Diversity Rules” (November 27th, 2011)(Part 5)
In ending, many different ‘progressive’ groups, including the Moveon chapters or councils that I am a member of, and Unions of all types, have ‘hitched’ themselves to the movement, at least in the aspect of vocal and actual support (the two marches I attended on Oct. 5, and Nov. 17, NYC). The ‘Awakening’ is just the beginning. The “Contract for the American Dream” (official site: http://contract.rebuildthedream.com/), the “99 Percent Declaration” (official site: https://sites.google.com/site/the99percentdeclaration/), some having existed before the OWS movement, and some created since, have ‘hitched’ themselves to the ‘Zeitgeist’ of the movement. Not ‘co opting’ it, but became ‘radicalized’ by the movement
You further state, “While we can certainly have empathy for the overall premise being set forth by the OWS movement, we cannot allow ourselves to be duped into thinking that by not voting it will bring effective change”
Again, I have met with, talked with, attended their GA meetings and never heard once anything about ‘not voting’. There were and are many viewpoints on what to do, where do they go from here. Some Ron Paul supporters, some wanting to create a ‘third party’, some wanting to have a ‘revolution’ of some sort. But, all of this is trumped by, in my opinion and many of those seniors last week, who met with OWS members and then marched to Zuccotti park, and demonstrated for ‘No cutes to Social security, Medicare, Medicaid’, the fact that, to some/many, ‘this is what we have been waitingfor’. There have been an enormous amount of LGBT groups created in response to the OWS movement, ‘OccupyEquality’, ‘Let’s reach 1 Million People Campaign… (LGBT Equality)’, and so many more I haven’t found half of them.
In your blog or evaluation, you seem to harp unneeded on this one incident, one person, one view. The Movement has many views, as I remember the early Gay Rights movement had, including ‘Act up’ and others. The importance of this movement will be validated, and has been already. Whether the ‘official’ LGBT groups vocally support the movement, some of which have, we cannot sit this one out. To me and to thousands and maybe millions, including, representatives from the Tahrir Square protests in Eqypt, this is going to change things. Whether we win in the end, I don’t know. But, as I watched those seniors and union leaders, almost breathless overwhelmed, say that, ‘this is what we have been waiting for’… I urge you to reconsider, educate yourself, listen to more than one person’s damn Facebook chatter. Visit them for yourself. It will change your mind.