One of the intriguing things about the commentary by the media and political operatives on OccupyWallStreet is how often they try to denigrate it, usually via ridicule and attacks on the appearance or presumed demographics of the participants. The underlying message is that the protestors are slovenly unproductive losers and hence have nothing in common with respectable middle class people. That flies in the face of the evidence on the ground, where the crowd in Zuccotti Park has gotten to be both older and more mixed ethnically than it was at its inception, and many of the Occupy demonstrations in other cities have solid representation of the middle aged and retirees.
Indeed, seniors are logical allies of OWS: they’ve been hurt by financial-elite-favoring policies, like the gutting of pensions to boost stock prices and CEO pay and near zero percent interest rates which are a transfer from savers to banks. They are also old enough to have lived through the heyday of the American middle class, the 50s and 60s (many remember the Depression) and know that they were well served by the New Deal social contract that has been dismantled over the last 30 years.
The efforts to discredit OWS are intriguing and reveal a deep seated sense of vulnerability among the powers that be. Despite the high level of press coverage, relatively few people have yet to participate in these gatherings. But this effort is applying pressure on the deepest fault line in American society, is not going away and continues to gain ground. Even if OWS does not mature into a political force, it is already having an impact, by shifting the nature of discourse and unearthing rotting corpses that the top 1% and their allies in the chattering classes hoped to keep buried: the fact that ordinary citizens have been on the wrong side of the greatest transfer of wealth in history, and virtually all of their supposed protectors stood by or had their hands in the till. No wonder those at the top of the food chain feel so threatened.
Alan Grayson does an effective job of kneecapping one of these typical attacks, this one from P.J. O”Rourke: