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November 20, 2011 - 11:55 am
The original Kent State moment

Conservatives misunderstand liberals’ oft-repeated wish that the Occupy Wall Street movement “needs a Kent State moment.” Why would these left-leaning pundits and activists hope for fatalities amongst the protesters?

But that’s not what they’re hoping for. When a normal person hears the words “Kent State,” the immediate association is that fateful day in 1970 when four student protesters were killed by National Guardsmen. But when a leftist hears the words “Kent State,” the immediate association is that fateful day when the media published an iconic photograph of an anti-war martyr that was the final tipping point that convinced the majority of Americans to oppose the war.

So when modern liberal pundits wish for an OWS “Kent State moment,” they’re not wishing for fatalities, but rather for the appearance of that one photograph which will reverberate around the world and forever establish the Occupiers as oppressed victims. It is the photograph, not the shootings, that is the “Kent State moment.”

The original Dorothea Lange moment

So far, they haven’t got it — not for want of trying. For the last several days The San Francisco Chronicle has helpfully featured a slide show of nominees on its Web site to hopefully stir up interest in one or another iconic martyr image, but so far, no Occupy photos have quite caught on, Kent State-style.

However, a new photo has emerged which isn’t OWS’ Kent State moment, but rather its Dorothea Lange moment. Dorothea Lange, as you may remember, was the 1930s photographer whose stark portraits of suffering Americans summarized and epitomized the Depression. One of her photos, shown here, became so famous that it’s now the first picture that comes to mind when people think “The Great Depression.”

This new photo of two young Occupiers taken by photojournalist El Marco in New York’s Zuccotti Park shortly before it was dismantled I think could become the iconic image of Occupy Wall Street – not a newsworthy photo of violence and martyrdom, but rather a thoughtful intimate portrait of two prototypical OWS lovebirds. It doesn’t just capture a moment — it captures an era:

[Click on image to see it full-size, suitable for framing.]

I like to call the picture “Zuccotti Love.”

Photo credit: El Marco. It is published here for the first time, but it will also soon appear in a report on his Web site.

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