I’m not sure what Occupy Wall Street did to Bill Maher – someone typically sympathetic to left-leaning causes like OWS – but he’s not happy.
“As I watch them on the news now, I find myself almost in agreement with Newt Gingrich, like, ‘You know what, get a job.’ Only because the people who originally started it, I think they went home. Now it’s just these anarchists stragglers. And this is the problem when your movement involves sleeping over in the park. You wind up attracting the people who were sleeping over in the park anyway. And I think this is where we are with the ‘Occupy movement’” Maher said.
“They did a great job of bringing up the issue of income inequality to the floor, but now it’s just a bunch of douchebags who think throwing a chair through the Starbucks window is going to bring on the revolution,” he continued.
Now, this is obviously a dickish thing to say, but peel back the hyperbole and there is some merit here.
Maher thinks the movement is just leftovers now. A once-honorable movement that brought the issue of income inequality to light devolved into douchebaggery.
The real problem isn’t that the OWS folks were against the wrong things – it’s that they were simply against things rather than evolving; that they couldn’t push past the tent-city model is a problem. Whether it’s just stragglers left over is harder to say. But the worst of the bunch will inevitably get the most attention.
Of course, I find myself in some disagreement with many in the Occupy scene over the proper role of markets and government, so perhaps I’m just biased. A sharp, clear focus on improving access to healthcare, fixing the tax code by simplifying it and making it more progressive, and working toward a less interventionist military would have been far better than the perpetually ad hoc OWS movement. Hell, I would have been happy if Occupy had morphed into a civil libertarian movement, concerned more with the plight of non-violent drug offenders (mostly minorities) locked away in our bulging prisons rather than the focus on student loan debt. (I mean – really? Student loan debt is the hill we’re going to die on here?)
(Okay, I’m being snarky here, and I realize there’s more to it than this, but still.)
I’m not a big fan of Maher, whose antipathy toward the many groups he disagrees with departs from being funny rather quickly and ends up looking like, well, douchebaggery as far as I’m concerned. But I do agree that Occupy outwore its welcome long ago, for lack of evolution. I don’t think OWS should give up, I just think that they should grow.
P.S. It is ironic that Maher would say “Get a job!” when OWS is basically complaining about a serious lack of jobs in this economy. And not ironic in a good way. I just think that the OWS model of protest, tent-cities, and so forth is seriously flawed, basically guaranteeing that the loudest and most alienating voices in the movement will have the largest megaphones.