On December 1st, hundreds of politically attentive characters flooded into The Michigan Theater to be enamored by one of the few remaining influential, far-left, fire starters. Michigan native, Michael Moore, took the stage with a University of Michigan hat (a change from his Michigan State hat, made famous in his highly acclaimed documentaries including Bowling For Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, and Capitalism: A Love Story). The documentary filmmaker came to the Michigan Theater to promote his new book, “Here Comes Trouble” on the last night of his book tour; Michigan the final, bittersweet stop on his journey. But he did not pay much attention to the book as expected. Instead, Moore focused on a topical passion that is driving Americans further into political involvement and activism: Occupy Wall Street.
Today, average, politically ignorant Americans speak of Occupy Wall Street with the same tone: “There is no leader, it is not organized, and it will fail.” And “It’s a group of bratty, graduate school students who feel like they’re privileged and should be handed jobs.” But what these individuals are missing is the point Occupy Wall Street is trying to make. As Moore put it, “It’s in the fucking name: Occupy! Wall! Street!” As the crowd cheered, I looked around and noticed the majority of individuals in the Michigan Theater were old, politically active liberals who have watched America change throughout their lifetimes.
I thought to myself, “Does my generation feel entitled? Privileged?” This was a group of Americans who watched the Civil Rights Movement take the streets and change the way race is viewed all over the world. This is the same group of Americans who fought for a woman’s right to vote. It seems almost unreal to think our parents and grandparents were involved and watched these events unfold and shape modern America.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is 11 weeks old and has already made a mark in American history. This is one of the first, massive movements in our generation’s history, and a chance to prove our worthiness to the world (I am happy to know there is still a group of America that actively contributes to politics). On the other hand, I have listened in and bitten my tongue as students in discussion sections discredit the protestors and news networks publicize all the negatives happening within the Occupy camps. I have heard students state, “The rich made their money, they deserve to keep it.” Really? I don’t have time to write out the value of taxes and economic stimulation in America, but read one (or two if you’re feeling brave) article on the importance of taxes and how they maintain America, and you will (I can only hope) understand.
Please do not read this blog post as: “We are only Occupying to please our parents and preceding generations.” That is not what I’m saying. To summarize my feelings, I do not think the American youth are taking political activism as seriously as they should. This movement is aimed at a deserving group of pigs who hoard billions of dollars, causing a further expansion of the greatest income gap in American history. I do not think America’s youth has experienced enough systematic oppression as a group to appreciate the value of Occupy Wall Street and movements that have changed America.
Do you think our generation values the right to protest and free speech as much as preceding generations? Do you think our generation is as politically active as preceding generations? Why or why not?