COVERAGE OF OCCUPY WALL STREET. Over the past few weeks, the MSM’s coverage of Occupy Wall Street has gone from neglect to caricature to growing interest. It’s been easy to paint the protesters camping out in Liberty Park as ill-informed and naive. But as anyone who’s been down to Liberty Park can tell you, most of the protesters do not fit these caricatures. As makeshift tent settlements spring up in over 800 cities across the nation, it’s clear that the Occupy Wall Street protesters are like a spark–bringing light and attention to the 99% who’ve been left out of our social contract. Some critics–and even those who support the protesters–have worried about their lack of demands.
As Executive Editor Betsy Reed explains in "Occupy Wall Street: Why So Many Demands for Demands?" it’s precisely the lack of specific demands that warrants our attention. "Occupy Wall Street, as an idea and action," she writes, "is a stroke of brilliance." "It expresses perfectly the outrage that is the appropriate response to the maddening political situation we find ourselves in today. It succeeds as symbolic politics: taking back the square is just what we need to do."
On Thursday night, Nation Columnist Naomi Klein was invited to speak at Occupy Wall Street, her remarks amplified by the hundreds of voices through "the human microphone." In a rousing speech (that appeared in Saturday’s edition of the Occupied Wall Street Journal), Naomi eloquently captured the spirit of the movement. "Let’s treat this beautiful movement as if it is the most important thing in the world," she declared. " Because it is. It really is."
That beauty is best captured in how the protesters attempt to get around the restrictions on amplified sound in public spaces. Lacking microphones, the protesters have adopted an ingeniously simple people-powered method of sound amplification, as Richard Kim explains in "We Are All Human Microphones Now." There is something inherently pluralistic when your words are enthusiastically shouted back at you by hundreds of fellow occupiers, Richard notes. Having witnessed the human microphone in action — the overall effect, can indeed be exhilarating.
For it’s resonance, importance and beauty, the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon is inspiring millions. But, as Nation Contributor Peter Dreier explains in this week’s issue, if Occupy Wall Street links up with those doing the slow, difficult work of movement-building, it will amplify its spark and help bring about systemic change we so desperately need. Stay tuned for more coverage of Occupy Wall Street in days and weeks ahead here at TheNation.com.
TAKING BACK THE AMERICAN DREAM. I was privileged to speak at the Take Back the American Dream Conference in Washington DC last week, where Van Jones of Green For All, MoveOn.org, the Campaign for America’s Future, The Center for Community Change and dozens of other progressive and labor organizations joined hundreds of progressive activists to push for new agenda for America’s beleaguered middle class. Never has the time been more appropriate to call on activists to stand up and speak out, to call for balance and fairness in the news media, and to tell our story. There’s simply too much at stake. Be sure to watch the video of my remarks, available here.
ANITA HILL, THEN AND NOW. As we approach the 20th anniversary of the pivotal Anita Hill hearings, our special forum this week reflects on what has and hasn’t changed in the years since Anita Hill bravely testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee against now Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for charges of sexual harassment. The event was a turning point for gender rights in the workplace and mobilized women like never before. In this special tribute to Anita Hill and her legacy, our forum includes reflections by columnists Patricia Williams, Katha Pollitt and contributors Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Jessica Valenti and Kimberle Williams Crenshaw. They remind us how her Senate testimony made her into a feminist icon, how women no longer shrug off sexual harassment and today feel empowered to speak out, how Hill’s scholarship underscores her enduring career as a professor and writer, and though we’ve come a long way, today with more than half of all high school and college age women report being harassed, we’ve got some distance left to go. The entire forum is available here.
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