I have been experiencing a growing sense of frustration lately in light of the public backlash against OWS protesters. It seems that anyone who comes out and rocks the boat in respect to the status-quo will, after a while, be attacked relentlessly by the media and the public. I'm not just talking about the OWS movement. Ask anyone who comes out in protest with a non-mainstream opinion. I come from a long line of rabble-rousers for a constellation of causes which span the political spectrum, and I have witnessed how, invariably, protesters are portrayed as nutty, radical weirdos with the unilateral objective of ruining everyone's fun.
My parents have been active in the pro-life movement for 37 years, since Roe v. Wade changed the debate from a state to a national level. One of the yearly rituals in our family was attending a rally on the steps of the Colorado state capital building, followed by a march in the streets to varying locations. Hundreds of people would drive from all over the state to attend and participate in peaceful protest and prayer, standing up in public to defend their decidedly unpopular beliefs. I remember people yelling epithets from passing cars, and literally hissing and spitting at us as we marched. Every year after the rally, the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain news would run a milquetoast blurb, underestimating the numbers and misrepresenting the people. Every year my mom and dad would shake their heads and shrug their shoulders at the lies, and look forward to next year's march.
Over the years I got used to the caricaturization of pro-lifers that had sunk into the public consciousness via the media. The caricature is that of rabid bible thumping yokels, whose real desire is to have the world catapulted back into the Dark Ages. I came to regard such treatment as par for the course in the battle for the minds of the public. So I can't say I'm surprised the the Tea Party became a caricature and now the same thing is happening to OWS. It's your basic model: a bunch of crazy radicals who have scary ideas and tactics and should all just be shooed out of the way so we can all go about our business.
But here's the rub: ask a radical about their pet cause...go ahead, they love to share. What you will find is that pro-lifers are the most informed on the issue of of abortion (Really they are. You would believe me if I told you the same thing about environmentalists so stay with me here). It is the people who hit the streets, the 'scary radicals' that get everyone so up in arms, who are consistently the most informed about whatever their specific issue happens to be.
Which brings me to my point: Eleanor Roosevelt said “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people”. If you have been watching the OWS events through the filter of the usual media outlets, and feel compelled to opine about the appropriateness of the people who are out there exercising their first amendments rights to assembly and speech, are you going to be focusing on the people and how you don't like their fashion sense? Are you going to be focusing on the marches and the camps, and how they inconvenience you and make you uncomfortable? Or are you going to be focusing on their ideas?
By the way, if you're still not sure exactly what ideas the OWS protesters are offering, don't ask the media. It isn't just Fox news that lies. Why not just ask the radicals yourself? It's a lot easier to access OWS protesters than your politicians at the highly orchestrated “town halls”. Why not simply bypass the media filter and come on down and ask a radical face to face what his or her ideas are. You may not agree with our conclusions, but we DO know what we are talking about.