Ambivalent about “Occupy”

Roger Ebert, one the country’s most respected film critics, is a prolific writer with many interests, including politics (he is an outspoken liberal.)  Today, he weighed in on the Occupy Wall Street Movement which swept the country this fall. Whereas many liberals and progressives are relieved that a leftist movement has finally captured the public’s imagination during our Great Recession, Ebert is more ambivalent:

My hesitation all along has come with uneasiness about the Occupy tactics. The idea of physically occupying public spaces–parks, plazas, malls and so on–is a questionable strategy. The notion of pitching tents, running kitchens and maintaining libraries on a quasi-permanent basis would have Saul Alinsky tearing his hair out. If you set out to do something that will obviously not work, you’re setting yourself up for inevitable failure. Very few people are mentally or constitutionally able to live in a tent for long, especially with the approach of winter. Young and strong people can. Soldiers do. But the Occupy movement is intended to be populist, and a great many ordinary people have children, families and income requirements that make it inconvenient to camp out.

It was a different matter during the Great Depression, when tent cities named Hoovervilles sprang up on the National Mall and elsewhere. Their inhabitants were actually unemployed and homeless men and women who were forced to such extremes. A few of the Occupiers fit that description. I believe most do not.

His conclusions are well summed up by this cartoon, taken from Politico.  Ebert’s whole post is well worth a read, you’ll find it here.

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