Byline: Michael Daly
The Wall Street protesters are being called 21st-Century hippies. But their growing outrage is real--and they look a lot like the rest of us.
Media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests in lower Manhattan over the past few weeks might lead you to believe they were merely an excuse for a few hundred dim-witted hippies to make some trouble. There's been some of that. One knucklehead declared the U.S. government a greater evil than Al Qaeda while standing across the street from Ground Zero. An uninformed graduate student said she wasn't worried about the rain because "we have a tarp." (When told that the bailout program was actually called TARP, all she could think to say was, "How ironic.")
But those are the easy stories--the ones that convince us that the protesters are other, lesser people than ourselves. On last Tuesday's "Millionaires March" past the homes of such financial titans as Rupert Murdoch and David Koch, the protesters looked very different. They looked like Americans--ordinary people fed up by the unfairness that has infected our national life in recent years. It's the unfairness of reckless financiers triggering a brutally harsh economic crisis, accepting a government bailout, and then going on to become even richer while everybody else has been left to struggle.
There was a 49-year-old home attendant who has a son with the Army in Afghanistan. He marched with David Parsons, 59, a businessman with a peace symbol affixed to his cap and an American flag in his hand that he bought from a street vendor for a dollar. "It seemed a good investment," he reported.
Behind them came a subway motorman who said that underground suicides are up and that he worries some poor soul will be driven by hard times to jump in front of his train. "It is just a matter of time," he said.
At first it seemed that Marilyn Kosimar, an expensively attired woman wearing red-soled Louboutins, had chanced onto the march as she walked her lap dog. She confirmed that she resides in the tony neighborhood but also declared herself one of the protesters. "The unemployment rate is unacceptable," she said. …