Editorial: Classism and Hypocrisy Invade the Occupy Movement

Over the past few weeks, the “Occupy” movement has caught headlines with locations in over 1,500 cities worldwide. These protests stemmed from Occupy Wall Street which began on September 17th, 2011 in New York City. According to the “unofficial de facto online resource”, OccupyWallSt.org, the Occupy Movement’s goal “is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations.”

One well known demonstration location that made headlines in the past week is the encampment in New York City’s Zuccotti Park. Both the Huffington Post and The Daily Show exposed the irony within the borders of the protest. While the “99%” is fighting against classism and elitism, these very qualities are gradually seeping into its protests. The east-end of the park is filled with, as one “occupier” put it, “college hipsters from Brooklyn that try to rule the park” and the west side is given the title of “the poor peoples’ encampment”.

Each side has distinct qualities: drum circles on the west and a sophisticated library on the east. Some “East End”-ers spend all day surfing the internet on their Apple computers while the “West End”-ers spend time in “spirit circles” and  “private” tents.

Two months into the series of Occupy protests, their message seems to have become convoluted. Rather than select protesters fighting for what they believe in, many join the movement because it is the “in” thing to do.

One occupier interviewed by The Daily Show is a prime example of the uneducated protester.  With a brand new iPad 2 in tow, he states “I am here fighting for a society where everyone has access to the goods of life.” But, when questioned whether he would share his iPad with the west end “bums,” he responds, “No, but I do think we should live in a society where everyone has access to technology and goods that everyone can use.” It makes absolutely no sense that he believes everyone should have equal access, yet he refuses to provide equal access to his precious Apple product.

Furthering the hypocrisy within this Occupy movement, select few protesters meet at 60 Wall Street – the Deutsche Bank building – to make decisions regarding the event’s activities. While these organizers are making “important” decisions about the protests’ future, they fail to realize that they are meeting in a building representing what they are fighting against. In addition, these protests aim to remove the 1% who make decisions for the rest of the country, yet they are allowing a select few individuals to make important choices for their demonstrations.

The hypocrisy displayed by the Occupy movement is laughable. How can a protest be effective when many protesters are unaware, or not fully supportive, of the cause they are supporting? In the words of Gandhi, in order for the Occupy movement to inspire change, they must first “be the change” they want to see in the world.