Time’s Person of the Year: ‘The Protester’
December 14, 2011 - 8:02 am
Time magazine has named its person of the year, concluding that people who tried to disrupt commerce, who discouraged reporting sexual assault, who pointlessly threw paper airplanes at the New York Stock Exchange, who brandished anti-Semitism, who attacked police and who made public spaces in several US cities n0-go zones for families, deserve the award.
No, Time didn’t explicitly give the award to the occupy protesters alone, but their award was a way of doing that indirectly, while also acknowledging the protesters who are overthrowing secular Middle Eastern tyrants and replacing them with Islamist regimes.
Time goes out of its way, and beyond critical thinking, to link all sorts of “protests” that bore no actual connection to each other or to any kind of shared ideal.
In early August, after police in London shot and killed a young black man they were arresting, riots broke out all over England. Naturally, the rioters’ instantly resorting to violence attracted little sympathy. Yet a new, three-month study by the Guardianand the London School of Economics concluded that these rioters were also protesters, motivated by anger about poverty, unemployment and inequality as well as overaggressive policing.
London’s unrest was less about protest than it was about debauchery and looting for free stuff. Time is perpetuating a fiction in tying August’s London riots to anything political or even coherent.
That’s not to say that Time’s announcement isn’t worth a read. It’s got unintended comedy like this.
At Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Daniel was a philosophy major, lived in his frat house, volunteered for the Obama campaign and co-founded his campus’s chapter of the nonpartisan Americans for Informed Democracy. Since graduating, he’s held various minimum-wage and unpaid jobs and has grown deeply disappointed by how little the Obama Administration has been able to accomplish. In September he was stunned by the breadth and depth of the chatter on his Twitter and Facebook feeds about Occupy Wall Street and decided he wanted to be part of it.
I’m not sure there’s a finer example of the occupiers’ thinking than young Daniel, who spends his time on twitter and facebook and really expected his philosophy degree to translate into a sustainable income. Wait, there is one — remember the puppeteer? He quit a good job teaching in NYC schools to follow his dream of getting an expensive masters degree in puppetry, and was shocked to learn that the market for masters degrees in puppetry isn’t so strong. So off to the “blame others but take no responsibility for my own decisions” occupation movement he went.
Maybe these occupiers should be named Person of the Year after all. They certainly represent the quality of reasoning and planning that brought us the Obama presidency.
Crave more of Time’s unintended comedy? Here goes.
To me, the mainstream Islamist parties in Egypt and Tunisia don’t appear much more fanatically religious than, say, Pat Robertson – esque Evangelicals in the U.S., and unlike the Republican hard-liners, they sound committed to a national consensus that includes secular liberals. “Democracy is a new culture, and we have to get used to it,” says Abdelhamid Jlassi, a Tunisian Islamist leader who spent 17 years as a political prisoner. “Now we have to get used to being hit by eggs.”
Islamists who gave rise to al Qaeda > Pat Robertson. Cluelessness must be a job requirement at that once great magazine.
So who would be my choice for Person of the Year? I don’t really have one in mind, but anyone who leads a small business that’s succeeding despite the awful Obama economy and the trouble that the occupiers are causing them would have been a better choice than “protesters.”