By Edgar Pagaza
Just when most Americans seem to be losing all hope in the direction this country is heading, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Most of it is due to the Occupy Wall Street movement that is sweeping the nation.
Although the movement has been criticized for not having a coherent message (protesters mostly demand jobs, but others also want to legalize marijuana, end the wars, etc.) it has definitely started garnering the attention of the press nationwide. Although most media chose to ignore it at first, probably due to the fact that corporate America owns most communication outlets, it has sustained enough power that it can no longer be ignored.
Some have also suggested that it is the left answer to the Tea Party movement, but anyone can see the contrast in the crowds at both movements. While the Tea party movement seemed to be a homogenous crowd of white older Americans that wanted to “take back their country” and extricate themselves from other citizens, the Wall Street movement seems a lot more inclusive and it is obvious when one sees every race uniting to ultimately tackle corporate greed in one front.
And is not only young college students who are taking part in these protests, but every age group including senior citizens and even elementary age students who have joined to chant: “We are the 99 percent!”
It also seems fair to notice that even though all these protests have for the most part been non-violent, an exuberant number of protesters have been arrested, including 700 on the October 1st in New York. Something that never occurred at the height of the Tea Party protests.
The media, especially Fox News, has also criminalized the actions of the protesters branding them as “hippies” and “free loaders,” unlike the praise given to the Tea Party movement. But now, even Republican candidates who were dismissive about the movement at first, have chosen to be more sympathetic with the protesters.
Mitt Romney changed his stance from one day to the next, ultimately saying that he understood the frustration of the protesters aimed at Wall Street.
The movement seems to be about breaking barriers, moving forward and uniting. Although many want to pin these movement on “liberal hippies” the fact that Romney, Eric Cantor and others in the Republican Party are starting to “sympathize” with the movement shows how the tide is turning.
The timing couldn’t be better especially as Obama fights to get his jobs bill passed and as immigrants endure the backlash of anti-immigrant propaganda focused on making them the scapegoats of all that is wrong in the country today.
Several states, including Utah, Arizona and Alabama, have focused on criminalizing undocumented immigrants as a way for politicians to gain popularity and find a culprit in the shrinking economy, all of this despite numbers that show that immigration has been on a decline since the recession started.
This type of rhetoric aimed at an immigrant population is nothing new and historically always occurs when times get rough. It is easier to pick on the weak without a voice, yet there are still those reasonable minds that understand that our predicament today is mostly due to the lack of regulation and carelessness of the banking industry.
Those voices are growing in number and they don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
**Edgar Pagaza is editor of Latinocaliforia.com