Watching FoxNews, one can’t help but get the impression that the folks who are occupying Wall Street and many other cities across the country are a bunch of unpatriotic, America hating, left wing socialists. Just the other day I saw a two photos put side by side to compare the amount of American flags seen in each picture; one was of a Tea Party rally, the other of Occupy Wall Street. I’m going to let you guess which gathering had more flags. It was also pointed out the amount of people arrested at each gathering and the amount of trash left behind by each group. Since the Tea Partiers are never arrested and pick up their trash they are clearly more patriotic. Way to Go.
I’m reminded of the saying, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and waving a cross.” Why patriotism has somehow become equated with lapel pins, flag waving, and constitutional bus wraps is beyond me. I always liked the saying “dissent is patriotic,” this statement is inclusive enough to allow for the protests of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. Yet now having the gall to suggest that America may not be the best, brightest, and holiest nation in the world is enough to get a person blacklisted. McCarthyism had nothing to do with patriotism in the 50’s and neither does most of what is being hailed as “true patriotism” today.
Looking back at the revolutionaries who helped bring America into being, their actions would be terribly out of place at a Tea Party rally. They refused to wave the flag; the flag of Great Britain. They felt there was a corrupt system which constantly was against them; the British government. They were litterbugs; burning folks in effigy left quite a mess I imagine. They caused all kinds of civil disruptions, with many, many people being incarcerated – heck they started a war! Compared to the revolutionaries these Occupy Wall Street folks are pretty tame; they are not dumping entire loads of ship cargo into the ocean, nor like the Sons of Liberty threatening or participating in acts of violence – the Occupy movement has as a central tenet peaceful, nonviolent protests. The revolutionaries were responding to what they felt was a corrupt system; exactly what the Occupiers are doing today.
The Tea Party folks would like us to believe that the oppressive and corrupt system of today is the government, a system which is always “getting in the way” and hindering the procurement of wealth for all Americans. Problems with America’s government is actually something Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party can sort of agree on, it’s that each sees the problems differently. For the Tea Party it’s the “massive” taxes that are getting in the way of the “Job Creators.” For the Occupier, it’s the idea that the government is in bed with Corporations to such an extent that these corporations pay little or no taxes and are able to contribute vast sums of money to politicians entrusted with keeping the status quo.
Tea Party ideology sounds all well and good until one starts examining the numbers; 50% of U.S. workers earned less than $26,364 last year. The number of people making $1 million or more soared by more than 18% from 2009. There are 5.2 million less jobs available since 2007. Since 1980 roughly 5% of annual national income has shifted from the middle class to the nation’s richest households. Median compensation ($36,959) last year was just 66% of the average income, compared with nearly 72% in 1980.
Say what you want about the Occupy Wall Street movement, but they remind me of our Founding Fathers. With all the “reminiscing” of the Constitutional and “founding principles of America,” I think these Occupy folks should be praised as True American Patriots.
Let’s raise a glass to true American Patriots, whether they lived long ago and protested in Boston harbor or are alive today and Occupy the land of Wall Street – these are true American Patriots!