Occupy Wall Street has been successful at making the news and getting attention, but it still lacks widespread support. On MSNBC, Donny Deutsch said that Occupy Wall Street needs a “Kent State moment.” That was pretty shocking, because you really expect fantasies about hippies being massacred to be more of a Fox News thing. Still, I bet many people have gone by the OWS protests and thought, “It sure would be great if the National Guard opened fire on these idiots” — it’s just that most people know to keep that sort of thought to themselves. So leave it to MSNBC to be groundbreaking again.
Deutsch did clarify that he didn’t necessarily mean that hippies need to be shot and killed to help their cause, but that they need some iconic image like that of the dead students from Kent State — something that really shows the class warfare they’re up against. So maybe a photo of a millionaire using a bag of his money to beat a homeless man to death. That would be some powerful imagery; actually, I might draw that.
The only problem with Deutsch’s Kent State idea — which is otherwise a great, flawless idea — is that I don’t think OWS is quite to the “getting killed on camera” stage yet. OWS protestors really need to do a bit more work building up the movement before they think about getting slaughtered as a viable strategy to build their movement. Here’s some advice for the OWS protesters of things to do before their Kent State moment arrives:
Have a coherent message. I know pretty much everyone has been harping on you OWS protesters about this, but it really can’t be overemphasized. If you want people to take action, it kind of helps to at least be able to specify the action — or at least what thing you think requires action.
Everyone understood the Kent State protest was about the Vietnam War. They weren’t protesting something vague like “conflict” or “fighting”; they were against a very specific war. With OWS, you guys are afraid millionaires are going to millionaire you or something; who knows what in the world you’re afraid of? All anyone knows is that you’re against greed… as is pretty much everyone, and obviously greed doesn’t lead to any specific action. If right now you OWS protesters had something outrageous happen to you, people would be like, “I won’t stand for this! I’m going to support those hippies in… um… their… um… something about Wall Street, I guess?” So it’s just good advice to make sure people know what you’re getting massacred over before you get massacred.
Have a cause people can get behind. Where being more clear about your goals can actually hurt you is if your message is awful and people don’t like it. I mean, what’s your biggest triumph so far? Keeping Zuccotti Park from being cleaned? People are upset about a lot of things right now, but I don’t think one of them is that there are too many clean parks.
You guys really need to aim for causes that are a bit more popular. So far, the few somewhat coherent people in your movement are the ones pushing ideas like socialism and talking about how much they hate America and want violent conflict — basically the same ideas of the people our military usually shoots. So be at least a little to the right of America’s enemies if you want to make your movement popular. If the people at Kent State had been protesting that America didn’t have enough people rounded up in gulags, it probably would have been considered less tragic when they were shot.
Have people actually affected by the problems be part of your protest. Once you have a coherent message that people can get behind, try to have people in your protest who are actually affected by the problem. Right now, OWS seems to consist of mainly white college students — i.e., people without any actual problems whatsoever. The most they can complain about is having huge college loans they can’t pay — which is more their fault and the fault of the college that sold them a worthless product. The banks that made those low interest loans are actually kind of the victims in this.
With Kent State, the students protesting were those who would be at risk of being drafted after college if the war continued, so they had things to be upset about that actually affected them, which made them more sympathetic than those yelling about stuff because they have nothing better to do (i.e., hippies).
Be less… weird. What’s with all the arrests? And I read that someone defecated on a cop car? And your human microphone and your “twinkles” and “down twinkles” hand signs? To most Americans, you’re like a bunch of weird aliens. The worst case scenario is that National Guard opens fire on you and everyone is like, “Oh. Good. Finally.” You don’t have to have all the values of average Americans to gain their sympathy, but at least try to act like you’re of the same species as them.
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So those are my tips. Once you follow them, then you’ll be ready to try to gain the country’s sympathy by getting the National Guard to shoot you. There really is no better way to gain popular support than to die for your cause, and while you’re facing down those guns, just know that there are people like Deutsch sitting in newsrooms supporting your sacrifice. So once your movement is ready, cause enough ruckus to get the National Guard to respond and then throw some rocks at them and hope for the best/worst. What do you have to lose?